With the dust (or mud more appropriately) now settled on this year's Download festival, and fans of the event already able to pre-book tickets for next year, the time has come to look back at the best performances of last weekend. Though Friday's line-up might not have been the most inspiring - good news for those who were unable to catch any of it thanks to the horrendous traffic leading up to the event - this year's line-up still featured some seriously stand-out talents, from mega artists like Metallica and Black Sabbath through relative upcomers like Periphery and rousing comedy-tinged acts like Steel Panther and Tenacious D. This tenth anniversary edition of the festival was a typically big affair, and the occasionally apocalyptic-feeling weather was never enough to dampen the spirits of the 100,000 or so rockers who made their annual pilgrimage to Donington. It was certainly a rewarding experience as well, with the logistical set-up and available talent quickly beginning to confirm the event to be what some of us have long suspected - the biggest European heavy metal festival on the calendar. You get the real sense these days that bands look forward to playing Donington as much as the fans do attending, adding some relatively rare real sentiment to the usual "it's great to be here" hyperbole that every frontman generously throws out to the crowd. Rock music is loud, and it's proud, and judging by the performances at this year's event, it's a thriving business. What follows here is a list of those best performances of this year's festival drawn not only from my experiences but also those who came along with me...
10. Corey TaylorAt the same time as Scottish anthemic rockers Biffy Clyro took to the stage on Saturday evening, Stonesour and Slipknot frontman Taylor was putting his own set on in the far smaller I can understand the intimate appeal of playing to a tent, but the atmosphere was so buzzing, and Corey so powerful on stage that it seems something of a missed opportunity that more fans weren't able to see him play solo on one of the main stages. His delivery and presence would have made a mockery of any concerns that he couldn't own such a crowd at least. To the delight of the fans, Corey's solo set also included some recognition for his band Slipknot winning the Best Download Moment ever from the festival's ten years for their blistering set back in 2009, as you can see below. The award was a part of the 2012 Metal Hammer Golden Gods and was presented to Taylor by Metal Hammer Editor Alexander Milas and Download promoter Andy Copping. http://youtu.be/HSxvpEMSUEw
9. Black SabbathFor some, the appearance of the almost-original line-up of Black Sabbath (with Ozzy drummer Tommy Clufetos replacing Bill Ward who was absent thanks to some contract issues) was always going to be the biggest draw of this year's Download, and the power of the performance proved that anticipation wholly appropriate. While Ozzy isn't quite the bundle of energy he used to be, the 63 year old can still command an audience (and he needed to be on full form with this swollen crowd), taking the grumpy old man approach to getting a response; mixing goading with encouragement to get to the desired volume. He might shuffle rather comically around the stage now, and the sight of him simulating masturbation with his microphone might be a little bit off-putting, but his voice holds up, and he is still an appropriate foil for the collected technical prowess of bandmates Iommi, Butler and Clufetos. Sabbath still cast an enduring image, with not even advancing age or Iommi's cancer diagnosis that cancelled the summer tour able to put off this performance or even dampen it, and the result was an accomplished, technically astute set that united old and newer fans in their admiration. If this was their last show, or even one of the last for a while, we can all be happy we were there to witness it. Next Up: Virginia-born brutality and infectious Chicago hooks.