Review by Sheri Bicheno for MPM
Waking up under a big oak tree where Press and Guest camp were situated was pretty beautiful. Today was a scorcher and after ten minutes walk into the Arena, the Apex stage was just getting ready for Australian outfit Stand Atlantic to kick Friday into festival mode.
An upbeat dance tempo with a bouncy mood introduces us to Doomsday which talks to us of frustrations towards the negativity of the world. Bonnie Fraser has a voice that commands attention be taken – belting high energy vocals that bleeds into Pop Punk statement Jurassic Park.
This song is fun, blending infectious and colourful rhythms with a strong punk energy. It offers a bouncy and fun cover to some really deep lyrics addressing mental health.
Bonnie and lead guitarist David Potter deliver the guitars with scratchy riffs infused with power chords that inject the fun huge scale rhythms into the performance, not dissimilar to Paramore in places.
Expressing the band’s buoyant, riff infused pop-punk sound with skittish beats and Miki Rich’s glitchy, scratching bass, Pity Party highlights a good example of Stand Atlantic’s index. Soaked in groove noted hooks, this track talks to us about cutting the negativity out of your life. The power behind its meaning in a live setting demands notability and is a great representation of what Stand Atlantic can do.
“F*ck it, I don’t know what I’m doing.” Bonnie relays her spirited and carefree style into the set before the first circle pit of the day is fronted by Molotov (OK).
This is a harder faced track with heavier blast beating wielded by Jonno Panichi and pure venomous attitude towards homophobia, calling to stamp it out.
A very powerful message to conclude their explosive set.
Taking a wander to the North of the Arena, I was drawn to the soundwaves coming from the packed out tent to find that Manchester’s Witch Fever were busy mesmerising the DogTooth Stage.
This is my first time seeing Witch Fever and I was honestly so glad I’d come by.
I don’t feel that they fit into the box of one genre. There are elements of doom, post- Grunge turned punk flavours going on here and makes for some melodic and heavy slamming riffs in the current song, aptly named Beauty and Grace.
Amy Walpole roars and emits her voice to be heard, a standing representation of speaking out against feminine oppression towards beauty standards and its place that eats at society.
Reincarnate is absolutely dripping with chuggy groove fuelled bass notes by the skill of Alex Thompson. This surprisingly overlines, but doesn’t drown out, the huge power chords from guitars so rather, gives the attitude of this track some punches of punk elements and then we come to about three quarters of the track and the mood turns sinister and dark, twisting down a very doomy path with heavy slabs of Alisha Yarwoods guitaring to end up in a mish-mash with a devastating ending that sees Amy’s vocals take on a sinister screaming.
Amy addresses the crowd and talks about a host from two recent prominent award ceremonies making public jokes about sexuality and states is it any wonder that the majority of the LGBTQ community do not always feel safe in the music industry and dedicates next song Bully Boy to people of the same mindset.
This is a track that has venom and attitude. This is where drummer Annabelle Joyce displays some exceptional drumming behind the kit. First, the doomy high hits and double pedals pummel in a slow, granite smashing tempo and then steps up the pace to create a sinister backing to the song alongside the smash of bass notes from Alex.
Amy is hypnotic, commanding the atmosphere with her loathing lyrics and passion towards the message of intolerance in this track.
This is a powerful band with a powerful message to carry. Absolutely one that has caught my attention and I’d be more than happy to reiterate to others.
Heading towards the Apex stage, I caught the last couple of tracks from London’s Alt Metal duo Nova Twins.
Antagonist starts with a nu metal jumpy beginning and Heartbeat thumps that see thousands of people of that stage floor moving and creating chaos.
The drum snare is snappy and blends with the slamming of riffs raining down from vocalist/guitarist Amy Love.
Her vocals range between clean, pop punk infused notes to high pitched, commanding screams with elements of rap rock in this live setting.
Choose Your Fighter comes as a rave – hip hop turned metal offering and in places, reminds me of a mish-mash of Prodigy and Destiny’s Child with a twist of Metal infused riffs and slapping bass from Georgia South.
The sound from Nova Twins is pretty unique and shows us that blending unruly riffs and hip hop don’t belong singularly in metal genres.
The DogTooth Stage is by now, completely stacked with people awaiting London Math-core gems Pupil Slicer.
Having just released their new album Blossom, it is a welcome sight to see a band that dwell in the more diverse genres of music these days. Particularly for the Underground Music Scene.
Title track of new album Blossom is riff infused with electronic elements and showcases vocalist/guitarist Kate Davies’ sonic range that flirts with high pitched black metal screams and clean Grunge edged singing to their pallette. They harness the stride of the song with winding riffs and muscular rhythms to coincide with the twist and turns of pace behind the kit that Josh Andrews wields.
Brutal, face melting track Wounds Upon My Skin utterly defies all directions with the pummelling drumming that underlines fantastic and commanding bass notes from Luke Fabian. This turns quietly into a deadly and low slab of bass to bring a sinister edge to the song with tempo transitions to slow and grinding and frantic and chaotic.
Heading back to the Apex stage, I caught some of the last of Manchester’s Alt rockers Hot Milk.
Upcoming album release Call To the Void in August had unreleased track Bloodstream in full swing. A pop punk infused track with high energy and feel good energy before bursting into a dance intro for Candy Coated Lies.
Hot Milk seem to have a knack for taking sensitive subjects and turning them into high energy, feel good anthemic songs. Candy Coated Lies should be a sad song – but somehow it fuels determination and the sense of reinforcement. Han Mee and Jim Shaw have duo vocals that are beautifully infectious with colourful moods whilst delivering high power guitar chords between them to direct the song into a punchy and catchy anthem.
Last track Split Personality merges a pop-emo dynamic with huge and heavy metalcore moments for full impact. Tom Paton crafts the basswork in this song which gives different tempos and depths in places, taking the direction of the song subtly through loops of heavy paces and back to more the more pop feel of Hot Milk.
Back to the DogTooth Stage and I had scored a space down the front for Manchester Deathcore/Slam leviathans Ingested.
Having seen Ingested many times, they’d previously spoken about their insane excitement and anticipation to play Download for the very first time… and I wasn’t gonna miss this moment for them.
I could see the guys getting ready and hyped to hit the stage and once they came on… vocalist Jase Evans addresses the crowd that is spilling out of the Dogtooth with the biggest smile and ‘Holy Sh*t. Download… loose your f*cking minds!!’
You asked, you got.
As Ingested started off, the place was already in chaos. The pits opened and Ingested displayed just why they are self claimed ‘Kings of UK Death Metal’.
Taking tracks from newly released Ashes Lie Still from 2022, relentless brutal and face melting was always going to be inevitable.
Rebirth commands slamming riffs and visceral aggression. Jase has some unique vocal techniques amongst his gutturals that I’ve noticed a few times the last few times I’ve seen them live. These are growls but there are purely animalistic with effect.
The technical capacity of musicianship is outstanding and still after 17 years, no song feels predictable.
The interactive moments between Ingested and their audience is a sight to behold… and truly gives a humbling, family feel to the set.
Chants of ‘SLAMCHESTER!’ rang out high from the DogTooth Stage and I could feel the glow from Ingested looking out upon hundreds and hundreds of people, feeding back to them the energy they put in, raising the roof with the identifying slogan of Ingested. This is a band who have grafted mostly by themselves to get to where they are now.
After a crushingly brutal tour In the states and before that, a tour in Europe with Cannibal Corpse, this was a moment where you could see the pride and love between Ingested and their fans.
The interaction continues as Jase commands everyone to crouch and when the double blast bests kick in for Shadows In Time, the whole place jumps up and blasts the roof from the rafters. He prowls that stage and completely owns it.
Guitarist Sean Hynes crafts the stunningly filthy riffs – and let me tell you, the riffs through any Ingested song are HUGE.
The velocity of both melodics and immersive brutal riffs catapults them into a completely different realm of Death Metal which shows a growth and evolvement following their years.
Dearhcore breakdowns and exquisite blastbeats commanded by drummer Jeff Lyns takes the blistering production of Ingested to another level.
Combined with the slapping bass tones, our favourite Mancunians who have made sure that their delivery of an intense a filthy set to Dogtooth Stage is one to remember. The pits and amount of bodies surfing towards the front during monstrous last song Echoes of Hate and practically skipping behind the barriers is a testament to the craft of these guys.
Back to the Apex stage, I can see the field is brim-full, waiting on Electronica legends Pendulum which, in itself brings an almighty mix of Dance and Metal lovers together. Much as does Prodigy which creates another space for diversity amongst Download.
Opener Driver offers a fresh and upbeat dance rhythm entwined with elements of drum and bass to kick off the party feeling amongst the crowd. For this set, an open air rave is exactly what is needed to mix up the vibe and who better than Australian outfit Pendulum?
Blood Sugar blended with the vibes of favourite track Voodoo People makes for gripping energy, backed by a massive LED screen and strobe lighting. Their extended drum and bass intervals set that festival feeling where they had the crowd moving non stop – and after all, after a long hiatus, this was their first time back to Download and there presented an opportunity for near 100,000 people to witness exactly what Pendulum do. Bands that craft for the mash up between dance and metal are few and far between.
When new single Halo is introduced, Bullet For My Valentines’ Matt Tuck is brought on stage as a guest appearance, which only appeals to the vast majority of viewers. This merger is a banger and gives Pendulum an open doorway to merge with metalcore vocals that only strengthens the aforementioned mash up to the crowd.
Staying at the Apex, I have to say that I am so pleased to have seen that Brighton lads Architects have grown further and further – I was following them when they started as an underground band in Brighton and seeing them on the line up to support Bring Me The Horizon is nothing short of magical.
Nihilist offers the perfect opener, a spiralling blast of venom fuelled riffs and blasting beats, with Sam Carter’s sonic gutturals creating an agitational setting.
This is then completely underlined by next song Black Lungs which, is a complete contrast to their opener. It takes on a more melancholy vibe and talks to us about society reviewing their roles in which they participate in life, the negative human effect on the world.
Sam’s vocals are clean, but hauntingly beautiful, yet its Dan Searle’s ethereal drums that absolutely pummel and hit those spots. Shapeshifting the mood between brutal and melodic, he commands the pace and works alongside Adam Christianson’s cataclysmic guitaring to deliver full impact.
Doomsday, an older track from 2017’s All Our Gods Have Abandoned Us throws a powerful and emotionally charged song into the set. Sam Carter´s vocals have a captivating way of use in his voice throughout this song to express pain and sadness and comes across as a stunning offering. Every riff infused melody is striking and has moments of tech flickers to combine with Dan’s atmospheric drumming.
“Download, it’s been 10 f*cking years, but we are here and we are ready to give you the best show that we can.” Sam addresses the crowd whilst taking a swig of Tequila.
When We Were Young brings the anthemic vibe amongst Architects, providing a slamming, upbeat metalcore edge to conclude the set.
Heading over to the Opus stage, I managed to battle my way through to catch the last of Evanescence, the voice of Amy Lee flows out towards me and they start Imaginary – every Evanescence fan’s nostalgia is right here. The whole stage is set with beautiful lighting and the sea of people at the feet of the band are singing along, very almost, drowning Amy’s powerful voice out. The riffs from Tim McCord are winding and keys eloquently fragile that weave with drummer Will Hunt’s hard hitting pedals that once again, offer an entwining of haunting energy and power that continue to bleed into Haunted.
Haunted was always a track that got me, more so than Bring Me To Life – it is an early representation of the experimental side of Evanescence that blends in tones of haunting keys and vocals with a nu-metal style power chords.
Amy sits at the keys and for a moment, everyone is unified. My Immortal brings out the mutual emotion within Evanescence’s crowd and has everyone singing along to Amy. Many people in my own age group remember the feeling of connecting to this song as a young, slightly emotionally troubled and musically impressionable teen and therein lies the appreciation of a song that grows up with you.
The chills come again when the bridge “I’ve been alone all along” echoes through your soul and turns the song from fragile and sombre to a powerful guitar chorded injection. This is just as impacting as finale song, Bring Me To Life which sees half of Download’s visitors singing back to the band.
Heading over to the Apex stage, the first ever headline slot at a major festival, we know that Sheffield metalcore titans Bring Me The Horizon have got some tricks up their sleeves to bring the carnage.
“Are you ready to have the time of your life?” An AI pops up on the screens which are the same AI characters that have been surfacing the festival for the last day or so.
It all makes sense when it turns out that the AI has a part to play in BMTH set that couples with the Resident Evil intro.
The stage glows red and Oli Sykes addresses the crowd to provoke them into a hyped frenzy.
AmEN! starts as an absolute powerhouse with Metalcore vocals and heaving growls, flirting with gutturals that flows into a rap-metal upbeat tidal wave whilst Teardrops is delivered in a devastating effects of dance style intros with Matt Nichols double pedals.
Teardrops is a deep song that addresses effects of mental health and though is delivered in a more pop metal range, it hits so hard and explores an emotionally charged subject not just lyrically but musically, the rhythm chords carries the weight of this track.
We’re taken through high energy tracks Dear Diary and Shadow Moses with infectious breakdowns and showcases the integration between atmospheric sonic assaults and hard hitting production of the styles that BMTH use.
1×1 sees Nova Twins join the band on stage to deliver the track in its full glory, the synth rap styles that entwine with the grinding guitars deliver a stunning performance to underline the powerful emotion fuelled vocals by Oli and Nova Twins. Stunning to behold!
BMTH / Photo by Abbey Shipperley
One Day the Only Butterflies Left Will Be in Your Chest as You March Towards Your Death is one of my favorites from the set.
Dark, ambient and addressing the problems that the environment faces because of humanity, there is so much here that BMTH has to shout out about and with the inclusion of their very first appearance with Amy Lee, this track has been executed perfectly before also guesting on dark electro infused Nihilist Blues after a much talked about collaboration on the track.
What came after isn’t something I expected – Follow You made an appearance in all it’s acoustic wonder. This is a little contrast to the harsher notes of previous songs on their set, however it’s none the less striking and shows Oli spill out so much emotion.
Ending with Can You Feel My Heart is one of nostalgia encasing beats that hit deep to your soul and bended vocals that calls out for needed help.
Melodic and dripping in fragile electronics, the snares are powerful and basstones full of weight. What a unifying track to end the night on a memory with confetti explosions, stilt walkers and pyrotechnics that seemingly lift to the skies.
Evanescence Photos by Pete Key for MPM
Gallery Below , Photos by Pete Key for MPM
Photography for Nova Twins / Pendulum/ Architects / BMTH / by Myke Gray Photography
Feature Image by Andrew Whitton for Download