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Download 2016: Day One Review

Mud, mud, glorious mud. And music, music, glorious music. Let the battle commence...

Whoever is this weekend’s Minister In Charge Of Weather needs to have a word with themselves. After days of glorious sunshine, the thousands of people streaming through the gates of Download 2016 on its opening day find themselves greeted with the sort of downpour that would make Noah blanch. Hopefully tonight’s headliners Rammstein’s pyrotechnical blitzkrieg will go some way to drying out the sodden field, but for now… well a spot of rain – well, a deluge – can’t quite dampen Download’s up-for-it spirit.

Maverick stage openers Puppy draw a fair number of confused looks from those that have wandered in unfamiliar with their metallic riffing and college rock mash up. By the end though, those who remain are seduced by their uniqueness, personality and strength of songs. They're a band well worth keeping tabs on. (SH)

Babymetal have conquered plenty of arenas but today is a battle against the elements as the Fox God's charges endeavour to keep people smiling while the rain absolutely shits down in a manner unseen since Noah hopped on the ark. Fortunately, there's really no arguing with the effervescent appeal of Gimme Chocolate!!, Karate and a particularly triumphant Road Of Resistance and there are an astonishing number of Babymetal shirts visible in the giant circle pit that Su-Metal cheerily demands. Next time they come here they will be much higher up the bill and, with any luck, not at risk of being washed away on a mud tsunami. (DL)

Over on the Maverick stage, the riffs are as sludgy as the ground underfoot as Heck unleash their wild-eyed brand of hardcore on the crowd. Singer Johnny Hall thanks the “rain gods” and “Babymetal for being a novelty act that no one wants to watch” for bringing the crowd into the tent. They sound as disjointed and dirty as you'd expect, and despite having built up a fanbase in dingy dive bars, they make a valiant effort at putting a show on in a huge tent, with Johnny leaping into the crowd accompanied by ominous, booming bass notes. (TDG)

Even in utterly disgusting weather Killswitch Engage are a band built to slay festival main stages, and today a couple more songs are added to their already impressive live arsenal. With opener Strength Of The Mind detonating the soggy hordes, KSE plough through a greatest hits set that culminates with My Last Serenade, The Rose Of Sharyn, The End Of Heartache, My Curse and In Due Time. With all that in the tank, could they ever really fail? (SH)

The Amity Affliction do the kind of melodic, ambient, consistent metalcore that would perfectly soundtrack a sunny day by the beach, but is somehow made all the more dreary by the miserable weather. Requests to crowd surf and roll around in the mud fall on deaf ears, and although it isn't a bad set, it's certainly not mind-blowing. (TDG)

No one really knows what to expect from today's tribute to Lemmy. In the end, a touching and respectful video featuring performances from previous Motörhead shows at Download, interspersed with interviews with Metallica, Priest, Dave Grohl and many other rock and metal notables, does a decent job of occupying the slot that the late, great man was originally due to fill. It's a little puzzling that Download couldn't muster an all-star band to bash out Ace Of Spades and the absence of any actual live music does seem weird for a tribute to a man who cared about little else, but there really is no perfect way to replace the irreplaceable and Motörhead on tape is still better than most things. (DL)

It's not entirely obvious why, but Korn seem more laidback and, as a result, much more fun as they trundle into their third decade as one of metal's most enduring bands. Today they are a monstrous, hit-hurling joy, with everything from wonky curio Y'all Want A Single through to heavyweights like Blind and Freak On A Leash sounding vital and far more pertinent to heavy music in 2016 than perhaps even the band themselves were hoping. Jonathan Davies is on particularly great form, bagpipes and all, and his slightly camp dad dancing is a wonder to behold, as ever. They even scare the rain off, bless them. (DL)

It’s tough being a Glassjaw fan. Due to whatever Machiavellian legal matters troubling the band, they’ve not released a full-length album since returning from a lengthy break in 2008. They’ve released the EPs Our Color Green and the rare-as-sunshine follow-up Coloring Book, as well a handful of songs online. Over the years, updates on their album’s progress were infrequent and vague at best. And to perhaps test their fans patience and loyalty, they’d cultivated an annoying habit of playing to each other on stage, leaving the frustrated crowd to rubberneck at their jam session. Today’s set, however gives the faithful something to believe in. Despite the pissing rain, the New York foursome – now with Glass Cloud drummer Chad Hasty and bassist Travis Sykes in tow – play like they give an actual shit. The sprawling Elvis Costello hardcore crunch of Mu Empire and the gargantuan Jesus Glue are set highlights, with Justin Beck reminding us why he’s one of the most inventive guitarists to come from the often insular New York hardcore scene. And, based on his stellar vocal performance, we’ll even forgive Daryl Palumbo’s MC Hammer gym gear, too – which is a big ask, given anyone’s standards. (SY)

It’s been raining for so long now that a moat of mud surrounds The Maverick Stage. It doesn’t matter: no-one has any intention of leaving while The Wildhearts are on. Anyone expecting a set of eight-minute-long noodlefests hung on enormous concepts about globalisation, space travel and underground armies of elves has, uh, clearly come to the wrong place. The Wildhearts are fast becoming a Ramones for the 21st century. Just as Da Bruddas were a mad, dependable blast of a night out to anyone gig-going in the 80s, uniting ages and (punk-metal) tribes, Ginger and co. have picked up that baton and been running with it for years now. The greatest hits are played hard and fast, choruses are sung, Lemmy is toasted and the turf inside is pogoed into mush. That’s a real earth Vs The Wildhearts for ya. (SR)

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Hailing from the Scottish lowlands, Twin Atlantic are no strangers to sideways rain and looming charcoal clouds. The Glasgow four-piece been quiet of late, busy working on GLA, the follow-up 2014 album Great Divide. Opening with the decidedly heavy new song Gold Elephant: Cherry Alligator, they plough through a set made for massive settings such as this; their biggest hits Free, Brothers & Sisters and Heart And Soul end a set drenched in victory and cold, cold, Leicestershire rain. Did we mention the weather? (SY)

Gutterdämmerung is that rarest of things at a rock festival: something you haven’t seen before. A movie, written and directed by Swedish photographer and creative director Bjorn Tagemose, the film throws a rock’n’roll cast (Lemmy, Iggy Pop, Josh Homme, Tom Araya, Grace Jones, Jesse Hughes) into a film that roars through genres – spaghetti western, war movie, epic myth, musical theatre, old-school horror – with flair. So it’s just a movie? No: while the film is playing, a band plays behind and sometimes in front of the screen. Bombs go off. Lemmy drives a tank. Henry Rollins appears on screen *and* onstage to play the part of a maniacal preacher, and the band roar into War Pigs and a slew of rock and metal classics. The only weakness is the story (a hackneyed battle between good and evil over “the guitar” – who will win the guitar? Is it a force for good or evil? etc) but when everyone concerned is having this much fun, it probably doesn’t matter. (SR)

When you're competing with a headliner like Rammstein on the main stage, you've got to pull out the stops. All Time Low do just that, and they've even brought pyro. Pulling Kids In The Dark out early in the set ensures the atmosphere - sodden and despondent in the unrelenting rain - immediately picks up. Dancing With A Wolf is full of attitude, with the raw edge in Alex Gaskarth's voice driving the chorus. This is self-assured pop punk done with sass. (TDG)

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All Time Low gallery: Marie Korner

Rammstein know what we want. We want massive, pounding riffs, tons of explosions and fire and, as is traditional, the public humiliation of poor old Flake. We get all of that, of course, but also a sense that the Germans are back in business and ready to recommence their fiery dominance. Some of the expected pyro is audacious in design and execution, but it's the overall, sustained, eye-popping spectacle that will linger in the memory: a band of gleeful eccentrics, led by the increasingly (and brilliantly) ludicrous Till Lindemann, blasting out songs in a foreign language that only a few here today will truly understand but that somehow seem to transcend that barrier and forge a powerful connection with everyone here. An unexpected acoustic reading of Ohne Dich is a particularly nice, disarming touch. If you didn't lose your eyebrows, this was an unequivocal triumph. (DL)

Gallery

Rammstein Gallery: Kevin Nixon

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