Download Festival: Day Two

With Rage Against The Machine
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Taking Dawn do a decent job of amalgamating the last decade of metal into their swaggering cock rock repertoire. The guitar solo’s reek heavily of Avenged Sevenfold and they undeniably plunder the back catalogues of Bon Jovi, yet its still as likeable as their unblemished cherubic faces. With legs firmly astride, their sheer young arrogance makes them a real one-to-watch. Urban Voodoo Machine spin their tales of debauchery and depravity alongside Gogol Bordello-esque folk-punk-blues melodies. They’re haphazardly comic performance wins over the ever increasing crowds with every verse.

Every festival needs some true sleaze and Hell Yeah bring their filth-infested anthems to the main stage with a gathering that could almost rival AC/DC. Their dirt-rock is as far from their original incarnations (Mudvayne, Damageplan and Pantera) as possible, but songs like the raucous ‘alcohol and ass’ keep the crowds tanked and pumped. Atreyu get a bad rap for being stale, generic and unmoving. Yet as Alex Varkatzas stalks the stage like a lion on heat it’s a real shame the music press has taken against them. Oldies like ‘Bleeding Mascara’ and ‘Ain't Love Grand’ truly slay and show a band that stayed true to its metalcore roots in the face of adversity. Whatever the case, nobody covers a stage quite the way Atreyu do and as the words ‘live, love, burn, die’ ring out across Donington, it's evident why their fan base is still so strong. Flyleaf plod through their heavier material in a desperate bid to win over the hearts of the metal throng. As they end with ‘I’m So Sick’ their best track to date, they’re evidently the one trick pony that needs to be put out of its misery and me out of mine.

You know it’s Cancer Bats when the words ‘Hail Destroyer’ ring across skies. Their full-pelt, audio assault singles them out as one of the best rock bands out there, never compromising hooks for superfluous heaviness or integrity for record sales. The Canadian trio play like it’s their last and songs like 'Lucifer’s Rocking Chair' are full of pelvis-grinding fragmented riffs that are impossible to scale back. An epic cover of Beastie Boys' classic 'Sabotage' means they could sing Little Bo Peep dressed like clowns and still have enough bile to truly rip. A strident Dave Mustaine takes to the stage, looking to be on top rock idiot form and ready to spout off whatever comes into his tiny redneck mind. And yet, by the time Megadeth get to 'Sweating Bullets' and 'Symphony of Destruction' it’s as droll as their appearance in 2005 without so much as a an inarticulate quip.

Leave it to the Deftones to be the band of the weekend so far. It’s often the case that their intricate soundscapes get lost at festivals with crosswinds parting the levels of noise, but for tonight as the sun goes down, it’s as close to sonic heaven as can be. As a slim line Chino Moreno steps onto the stage there can be no discussion that you’re in the presence of absolute greatness. 'Be Quiet and Drive' seem effortless and pour through Chino’s mouth as if he were capable of doing nothing else but deliver unrelenting audio bliss. He moves from blood rasping screams to glorious serenity in nothing more than a glare of his luminous eyes. By the time they get to 'Shove It', it’s evident that something subhuman and defies the ordinary levels of brilliance just took place at Donington. So leave it to HIM, a band you’d normally count on to consistently bring their doom laden Goth anthems with ease and guile, to disappoint. Ville Valo’s stage presence remained in hiding or presumably nipped to the bar along with every single sound engineer. Tracks like 'Wings of a Butterfly' and 'Right Here in my Arms' lying slain in cold blooded musical massacre with wobbly sound levels and ropey vocals. They’re infinitely better in intimate spaces, but wouldn’t win over any new fans over to the dark side with their efforts tonight.

Its not that Zach De La Rocha is an unlikable chap, but his arrogance and mission to save us all from the ills of the corporate world rings a little stale. Considering Rage Against The Machine played their ‘Last (gasp) Show’ at Reading a few years back, it seems less like a musical revolution and more like milking the ever ready corporate cash cow. Except you can’t really blame them when people are this ready to lap up every last self indulgent drop. 'Sleep Now in the Fire' and 'Killing in the Name Of', both stake their claim as rock anthems and deservedly so in days go by, but Rage seem to reek of wholehearted insincerity in the harsh light of day. What are they rebelling against, what do they believe in anymore? Zach stays resoundingly quiet, so perhaps that’s an affirmative fuck all.

Words by Anna Brown

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