It is Saturday. The foolish youths who insisted on tearing through the campsite until the sun rose in the east are now either passed out on the grass or stumbling towards food stalls to consume vast amounts of liquid energy drinks, forcing their already wrecked bodies to endure another day of alcohol fuelled abuse. What else are metal festivals about?!
Oh yes; music, sorry! Back in the arena, many more hung over beings have crawled out of their beds, past the security gates and onto the now soiled grass in the centre of Donnington race track, attempting to catch a few more precious moments of shut eye amongst the pizza crusts and empty beer cups. Annoyingly for such individuals, the first band of the day are intent on waking everyone with hearing distance; and then some.
Turasis play a form of metal that is rarely ever taken seriously, and much less understood; Battle Metal. The confusion is somewhat understandable when you consider how bewildering the spectacle of a Swedish septet doused in face paint, leather breeches and medieval battle regalia metal can be for your average music fan on a Saturday morning. By the start of the creatively titled closer, Battle Metal; the whole of the conscious audience is on their feet, posing in necro fashion, loving every chord and just wishing that they had face paint on too.
And now for something completely different! Hellyeah, (otherwise known as Vinny Paul’s come back project) is an absolute and utter sham. Alas, this doesn’t stop Donnington park loving every minute of their Stetson wearing, pot bellied, fouled mouthed set; complete with song titles as brazen as ‘Alcohol and Ass’. The raised fists and painfully clich’d ‘Hell Yeahs’ from the audience prove that while our vocabulary might not contain an English equivalent for the word redneck; we certainly still breed plenty of them in places like the Midlands.
Shadows Fall are a brilliant change from the unintended novelty of Hellyeah, and catch the attention of many a dozing beer drinker. The strength of Brian Fair’s on record melody is perhaps somewhat lost on such a large stage (and lets face it, everyone’s marvelling over his dreadlocks anyway’.). Nevertheless, Redemption from their latest effort Threads of Life is a brilliant bit of metal.
Aiden arrive with less make up than I had been expecting, and as equally little support as anyone who’s got half a brain has headed over to the Dimebag stage for the blistering succession of Bring Me the Horizon followed by As I Lay Dying.
It would appear that the aforementioned San Diego metallers have (perhaps unwillingly) enlisted the support of every ‘new-hardcore’ kid on site who mistake chugging metal for their bland acrobatics inducing, three chord driven, fight music. Still, this makes for an interesting pit as the energetic younglings are struck aside by tribal tattoo sporting marine types in much the same way that those little gophers get flattened by a mallet at funfair amusements. Apart from the bustling crowd, AILD play a blinding set, with Meaning in Tragedy and closer Forever proving just why their fanbase swells so greatly every time they visit these shores.
Across at the Tuborg stage, Panic Cell are reviving old school metal one gig at a time, with guitars that snarl at any blokes with the audacity to have a fringe cut into their barnet and vocals of that ooze more beef than oxo gravy. Away From Here is by far their finest moment, and with their headline tour in October, you’d be wise to catch them and witness British metal in its purest form.
The on stage banter of a pop punk band would usually be much welcomed in the baking Midlands sunshine, but there’s no mistaking the brooding, anxiety in the air across the main stage crowd. We all know who’s on next and the clock watching and foot tapping begins well before Bowling for Soup remove their inflatable sheep from the stage. As soon as this is done however, an exodus of biblical proportions begins; Metalheads bulldozer-ing into the pit, rabid in anticipation of Machine Head. Simultaneously, mild mannered teens who are sheepishly seeking their parent’s watchful eye from the rear of the arena tip toe out of the vicinity, which will shortly become a scene of utter devastation.
While many of the hype chasers and scene kids have dissapeared to digest The Gallows manic offering over on the Dimebag stage, it’s metallers old and young who await the appearance of their 90′s heroes. It only takes the first few notes of Clenching the Fists of Descent to rouse a deafening roar from the crowd; a minute and a half later, the pits kick in and those who stumbled in here by mistake are sent fleeing (with or without their shoes, caps, or other assorted items that will shortly be trampled into the floor.) Despite the constant opening up of the mosh for the flailing of limbs and circle pits, it is the most intense experience thus far.
Imperium is followed by Take my scars, which separates the newbie fans from the veterans, both in terms of age and stamina. As the pits open wider and fists swing more freely Aesthetics of Hate invokes just that, before Davidian forces even the deck chair crew on the hill to jump up screaming the chorus till their hoarse.
As the multitudes of sweating bodies leave the crush to feed and water their battered bodies, Slayer do what they have been doing for over two decades; appearing at every festival across the planet, year in year out, without fail. South of Heaven and Mandatory Suicide are as heavy as ever, but those who’ve been participating fully to this point have either fallen asleep or gone to restock on Red Bull in an effort to make it though the remains of the day.
Marilyn Manson has a new album out, a new line of make up on his face and some more drab rock songs about his dark and twisted existence to share with us. His arrogance oozes from the stage with every contorted face he pulls, but despite his diva like approach to performance, it’s the classics that people are here to digest.
Thus, its only really during songs that he had nothing to do with creating; Sweet Dreams and Tainted Love that the further reaches of Donnington are mouthing along or bothering to applaud the dark, cross dressing queen who is tonight little more than a Goth karaoke act. It’s a similar story over on the Dimebag stage where Motley Crue, a reformed band of ageing rockers who should have stayed in retirement, look and sound, well; much like a group of ageing rockers who should have stayed in retirement.
I had been waiting for my predictions of Linkin Park to be proved right all day. As I watched the bottles flying prior to Chester and Co.’s appearance, I was secretly hoping they’d flop; go down in flames and march off in Axl Rose like disgust at the abuse just so I could chuckle as I wrote about it afterwards. But alas, I was to be proven wrong. Very wrong.
From the moment the PA music stopped and the lights came on, it was blatantly apparent that despite the poor press, the name calling, the bottle throwing and the all ridicule they endure; an overwhelming majority of the crowd think Linkin Park create damn fine music and were here to celebrate that in earnest. It doesn’t matter who you are either; standing on a slope and watching over 50,000 people mouthing along every single word of One Step Closer as the sun sets and jumbo jets come in to land overhead is an amazing experience, rivalled by few others.
Of course, there were weak moments, such as Chester and Mike’s mellow song interludes which dragged on far too long, but hits like Somewhere I Belong and In The End were at their very finest this evening, with a spectacular light show spicing up any tedious moments between verses. I might not have stuck around for the encore, but new single What I’ve Done demonstrates just why these guys are still topping charts across the planet.