In just under two weeks time, the gates will open at Castle Donington to thousands of rock and metal fans making their annual pilgrimage to the Leicestershire event to be among kindred spirits in fields before their idols. With a line-up featuring powerhouse legends like Metallica, Black Sabbath, Anthrax and Rise Against set to split the skies with helicopter drum beats and blistering guitar riffs, now’s the time to get bloody excited.
So with that in mind, here are our top 10 reasons to be excited for the rock festival which in truth can claim an almost infinite number of potential highlights…
10. The Return of the D
Fresh from their new album release, and a slew of unsurprisingly poor recent films for Jack Black, Tenacious D will return to Castle Donington for what promises to be a hilarious, but no less technically impressive show. Likely to be a fan favourite, the band will be buoyed by the reception of new album Rize of the Fenix, and for many this will be the first opportunity to see the new stuff live…
9. Frank-less Gallows
Can Gallows really make a claim for longevity beyond the association of talismanic front-man Frank Carter? Obviously the excitement does not lie in just seeing them without Carter, but in seeing what the new line-up and former Alexisonfire singer/guitarist Wade MacNeil will bring to the live show. Given the Canadian’s association with Alexisonfire, and his guestwork on as auspicious projects as Cancer Bats’ Hail Destroyer and Johnny Truant’s No Tears For The Creatures, we think he’ll make for a more than capable replacement.
It’ll be interesting to see who opts to head for the Red Bull Bedroom Jam stage ahead of seeing Chase & Status on the main stage. For me it’s more than likely to be Wade and the boys.
8. Saturday Night On The Main Stage
Trivium, Steel Panther, Tenacious D, Biffy Clyro and then Metallica. One of the finest five act combinations ever lined up for a rock festival in my memory, with a mix of spectacles for all comers, and despite the presence of Corey Taylor, Skindred and Killswitch Engage in annoyingly competing slots, I can’t see myself moving from that main arena all night. One thing that is for certain given that line-up is a stellar show performance: Trivium are brutal life, and will eat up the crowd, Steel Panther have immaculate, hilarious shtick, Tenacious D have that old school sense of grandeur about them, and Biffy and Metallica are consummate live professionals having honed their skills over thousands of shows collectively.
7. The Legends
Aside from the headliners, a cursory glance through this year’s line-up reveals the presence of some serious classic talents, from Sebastian Bach and Ginger Wildheart through The Quireboys and Anthrax to Megadeth and Ugly Kid Joe. Heavy metal royalty one and all – well almost. The opportunity to see that feast of classic musicians alongside new concerns like the new line-up of Gallows, and the tens of bands on the bill not yet considered to have broken through yet is one of the chief reasons Download is always such an enduringly appealing part of the festival calendar every year.
6. The Ten Year Celebration
First there was Monsters of Rock, and then came Download, a newer, leaner version of the iconic rock fest. Now in it’s tenth year since the rebrand, we’re hoping the festival organisers will have laid something special on to encourage the party atmosphere. Not that it ever really needs encouragement to be fair.