Download Festival 2015 Sunday Review: Walk With Me In Hell

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Words by Jamie Giberti, Sam Dignon, James Halstead, Jack Fermor-Worrell, Lisa Fox.

The final part of Team Rock Sins’ Download Festival 2015 review may have been slightly longer in coming than planned, but with announcements for next years’ Download on the imminent horizon what better time for our 2015 coverage to come to an end. Anyone who missed the first two parts of our extensive review first time around can catch up below:

Day One – Friday
Day Two – Saturday

With the catch up links in place, lets get on with the action from the final day of this years’ Donington festivities:

As the gates open for the final day of what’s become known as ‘Drownload 2015’, it’s Michigan rockers Pop Evil (7) that have the task of opening up the Main Stage. Whilst their radio-friendly brand of rock is far from original (think Godsmack mixed with pretty much any classic rock act, and just a hint of grunge), it’s certainly entertaining, and a great way to start to the day. Opening with the anthemic “Boss’s Daughter” (co-written by Mötley Crüe’s Mick Mars) is a masterstroke in how to get a crowd’s attention, and the rest of the group’s material goes down just as well – the Metallica-esque riffs of “Deal With The Devil” inciting the first mosh pits of the day from a dedicated few. As far as frontmen go, Leigh Kakaty is up there with the most enthusiastic It’s all over a bit too soon though, being the first set of the day, but Pop Evil seem to have done enough to earn themselves some new fans. This is clearly a band with a lot of potential to do well on these shores – they just need the opportunity to do so. JFW

It’s raining fairly heavily by the time 36 Crazyfists (2) take the stage, and their time on stage does little to lift anyone’s spirits. Despite vocalist Brock Lindow’s best efforts, the quartet’s set is sadly pretty awful, plagued with sound issues throughout and simply lacking in memorable moments, or anything remotely exciting. Tracks like “Bloodwork”, usually emotional and heavy, are stripped of all their weight by the poor sound mixing and it quickly becomes difficult to tell when one song ends and another begins. It’s especially disappointing, given the quality of the songwriting on last year’s “Time and Trauma”, that 36 Crazyfists can’t seem to replicate that album’s sound in a live setting at all. Finishing off with the usually crowd-pleasing “Slit Wrist Theory” is perhaps the best moment of the set, but it’s too little, too late to save arguably the worst performance of the day. A total disappointment in almost every way. JFW

Even the best bands prove a little wearing with familiarity and so Evil Scarecrow (7) prove. It is, as usual a fantastic, well-rehearsed and well-designed stage show but it’s exactly the same show as that at Bloodstock last year. Presentation is all-important and especially for a band like Evil Scarecrow that rely less on music and more on the comedy. Regardless, it’s certainly a terrific spectacle for those that might not have seen Scarecrow before, it just rings a little hollow for some. JH

Max and Igor Cavalera tend not to f**k around with their performances, meaning Cavalera Conspiracy’s (7.5) main stage debut at Download was 35 minutes of balls out proper heavy metal – just what the doctor ordered. Between the headbang worthy Cavalera Conspiracy originals and the obligatory Sepultura covers – particularly a thumping Refuse / Resist – the Cavalera’s helped the swelling Download crowd to shake off any remaining cobwebs from their Sunday. The fact that Igor did the whole performance behind the drum kit wearing an Arsenal shirt with pride just made it even better. JG

Having been at Download many times with Alter Bridge over the years, seeing Mark Tremonti’s Tremonti (7.5) solo project take the stage at Donington for their debut was a curious, but welcome event. Mark is growing into his role as vocalist alongside still being one of the world’s premiere six string masters, and a setlist spread evenly between first album All I Was and new offering Cauterize was balanced nicely. The new album’s title track was a particular highlight, as was the closing spring through old favourite Wish You Well. A very enjoy and welcome debut, Mark Tremonti is always welcome back at Download, whichever band he’s in at the time. JG

After dropping one of the best hardcore albums of 2014, Code Orange (9.5) made their Download Festival debut by putting on one of the most exciting sets of the weekend. Opener “My World” see’s what could be the weekends most violent pit open up and from there Code Orange just proved why they are one of the most hyped up hardcore bands around right now. Mixing in more progressive elements keeps things diverse while their breakdowns are heavier than anyone else’s. The band match the chaos of the crowd by thrashing about onstage whilst never letting their performance drop. Whilst the tent might not have been as busy as it was for bands before them, anyone who witnessed Code Orange was treated to a brilliant set from one of the most important heavy bands to emerge in recent years. SD

The Pepsi Max stage was literally full to bursting with an overflow crowd twenty deep outside, and there were men dressed as Barbarians onstage. That can only mean it was time for the not so secret secret set from Lowestoft’s finest The Darkness (8). Opening with new track Barbarian (an entertaining choice), frontman Justin Hawkins (sadly sans the brilliant moustache he’d been sporting in recent times) was as effervescent as always and in fine voice too. Whilst many were struggling to see, there was no issues hearing the unmistakable riffs and falsetto vocal of Growing On Me and Get Your Hands Off My Woman, not to mention Love Is Only A Feeling and One Way Ticket. Lead single from their recent new album Last Of Our Kind Open Fire showed there was plenty of musical life left in our spandex loving friends, with proceedings brought to a close with the overwhelming fan favourite I Believe In A Thing Called Love. It was like it was 2004 all over again, and it was great. JG

Continuing the trend of brilliant hardcore bands at Download, Madball (8) delivered 40 minutes of NYHC tunes. Madball do absolutely nothing to reinvent the genre but sometimes the simple approach is better. While they play more tracks off of their latest album the setlist still pulled plenty of older fan favourites and the band never let the pace drop meaning the pit hardly ever stops moving. With this being a rare festival appearance from Madball it’s clear by the end that it’s a shame they don’t come over more often. When it comes to straight up hardcore, Madball are one of the best. SD

Rounding out the Maverick Stage’s great collection of hardcore bands this year is The Ghost Inside (9). With the tent nearly packed out this was guaranteed to be a special show for them and it did not disappoint. Opening with Avalanche, The Ghost Inside just fill their 45 minute set with some of the best melodic hardcore tunes around. Unsurprisingly the set is focused on their brilliant latest album Dear Youth but with songs as good as Out Of Control and Mercy this definitely wasn’t a problem. Vigil’s passion in his performance is something very few frontmen can match and when he talks about the meanings behind some songs, it’s clear how genuine he is being. The band find time to drop a few older fan favourites with Between The Lines being a particular highlight, the entire crowd screaming “WHAT DO YOU STAND FOR” was definitely one of those moments that really stood out. Still it’s Engine 45 which is easily the best part of the entire set, closing things in style with a swarm of crowd surfers trying to get the mic from Vigil. SD

In Flames (8.5) have often not quite done themselves justice at UK festivals over the years when compared to their brilliant headline shows but when they instantly launch into Only For The Weak, you can tell this time they really mean business. Whilst new record Siren Charms wasn’t the strongest album of In Flames’ career, at Donington the likes of Everything’s Gone and Paralyzed sound full of life, aided by great sound and an impressive performance from In Flames main man Anders Friden. After teasing it several times the seminal In Flames hit Cloud Connected kicked in, receiving one of the best reactions of the entire festival. From there it was a case of hit after hit with the band’s UK breakthrough song The Quiet Place, Deliver Us and lastly Take This Life rounding off In Flames best UK festival show in a decade. More of the same next time please guys – with one or two more older tracks and a longer set thrown in for good measure! JG

All bad things must end, is the strap line for the final run of shows from sleaze metal legends Motley Crue (9), and today see’s the band say farewell to Donington Park. Having seen The Crue several times over the years, its fair to say their performances haven’t always been quite up to scratch. We’ve seen them when mics have cut out, lights have blown up, backing track has been messed up and even once when the band have all played different songs. Nothing, however, can take away from the poignancy of today’s performance. Pulling no punches we are left battered and broken as Motley Crue blast out hit after hit, all the while keeping us entertained with magnificent pyro, numerous stage tricks and some fairly decent dancing girls. Bruisers Dr Feelgood, Shout At The Devil and Girls, Girls, Girls go head to head with fan favourites Smokin In The Boys Room, SOS and Kickstart my Heart. An emotional encore see’s Tommy take to the piano one last time, for a stunning rendition of Home Sweet Home. The Crue have always found their home at Download but for now at least, it is time to say goodbye. LF

Lamb of God (10) are, hands down, one of the highlights of this weekend. The best metal band of a generation, today they particularly shine. ‘Ruin’ hits as heavy as normally while slowing down the beginning of ‘Now You’ve Got Something To Die For’ makes the main riff hit that bit harder when it finally kicks in before closing with, hands down, one of the best final thirty seconds of any metal song in the last ten years. New song ‘512’ getting dropped three songs in is a welcome surprise and ‘Still Echoes’ sounds better live than either of the songs aired off last album ‘Resolution.’ Then there’s the crowd reaction; despite the mud the pits are constant and especially so during traditional closer, ‘Black Label’ where a monster pit opens up the length of the stage. A triumphant performance on the Virginian giants part. JH

KISS (5) have the pyro, the fireworks, the 40 foot tall video screens, the lights, the cranes and the confetti. What’s severely lacking is the tunes. The majority of the Detroit glam rockers Super hits are saved for the last third of their performance, meaning once Paul Stanley takes his traditional zip wire to the sound tower for “Love Gun” things kick into gear. The likes of Shout It Out Loud, I Was Made For Lovin You and Rock N’Roll All Night get the desired reaction, but the fact it takes nearly an hour to get to them made for an unbalanced performance bordering on outright tedious at times (made all the worse by Paul Stanley’s utterly inane crowd interaction). Definitely one for members of the KISS army only, as the majority of casual fans had given up by the time the songs they would’ve known came along. JG

With one final blast of fireworks, another brilliant Download Festival was brought to a close. Whilst the final headline performance from Gene Simmons and co was slightly lacking, overall it was another superb edition of the UK’s favourite rock festival, which shows no signs of slowing down. Roll on 2016, Team Rock Sins will be there! In the meantime keep an eye on both @Rocksins and @DownloadFest on Twitter for the latest updates.

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