Download 2015: In Flames and Lamb Of God
Venue: Download Festival, Donington
Things get seriously heavy over on the second stage at Download
When it gets to this stage of a festival, when everyone's knackered and covered in mud, it falls to the veterans to keep energy levels in the red. In Flames  may not be at heavy music's cutting edge anymore, but they're still razor sharp and armed with an arseload of hits from their largely brilliant catalogue.
From a pounding Only For The Weak onwards, this feels like a reassertion of prowess from a band that have underperformed slightly on record in recent times, and even the Swedes' newest material packs an invigorating punch. Anders Friden is in a buoyant mood, congratulating us for our rain-sodden stoicism and generally roaring like a cornered wolverine. If the modern media's obsession with the new, as opposed to the excellent, continues as it has been then In Flames could easily slip down bills like this, but on this evidence they have plenty of fuel in the tank and no intention of letting a younger generation claim and misinterpret the melo-death blueprint. A strong showing, as is so often the case.
The faint sound of Motley Crue crucifying a Sex Pistols song is wafting over the hill, so the arrival of Lamb Of God  comes as a welcome relief for anyone that likes their metal to be, you know, heavy. Randy Blythe is back to his best today, too... a blur of limbs, dreads and screams, he has somehow become so much more than just a metal frontman over the last few years and yet seeing him in his natural habitat is still a thrill. In fact, the whole band are more animated and bug-eyed than they've been for some years, with new songs 512 and Still Echoes providing great evidence that a nightmarish few years have had a unifying and empowering effect. Walk With Me In Hell and Ruin both sound somehow nastier and more ferocious than they did the last time LOG were on our shores, and as if to prove that the fans can match the band blow-for-blow, the insanely huge pit that opens up during Redneck just looks dangerous and stupid (and all the better for it). The closing _Black Lab_el delivers the killer uppercut, as always, and one of the very greatest metal bands of the modern era leave the stage to howls and roars of approval and adoration. Which is just as it should be. Roll on the next UK tour! Download just got its arse kicked.