Continuing the rundown of all the action from Donington, we’ve got the highlights of what the Rock Sins team managed to see on the Avalanche and Dogtooth Stages on the first day of Download Festival 2018. If you’ve missed our reviews from the main stage, and from the Zippo Encore stage, you can check out those reviews on the links below:
Wasting no time, lets get on with our first band from those stages, the mighty Employed To Serve!
Employed To Serve (8) waste no time tearing the Avalanche stage down. After a little encouragement from guitarist Sammy Urwin the crowd lose their mind and the pit is in full swing. With only 20 minutes the set is criminally short but that doesn’t stop Employed To Serve from making the biggest impact. The riff to I Spend My Days Wishing Them Away makes the ground shake and Justine Jones is an absolute beast on vocals. Employed To Serve have been one of the most exciting underground bands in the UK for a few years now and based on performances like this they might not be spending much longer in the underground. SD
Stray From The Path (8) try their hardest to just start a riot on the Avalanche stage. Drew Dijorio is as confrontational as ever and given the current political climate their songs just sound so vital today. Every song feels like a sledgehammer to the face with its message, Stray don’t have time for any sort of subtlety. Goodnight Alt-Right is easily the highlight and gets the entire tent bouncing. It really is a shame Stray From The Path were put inside the tent instead of being given a shot on a bigger stage. The Rage Against The Machine influence would certainly be able to attract the more casual festival goer and the bands performance is just so incendiary. Hopefully the future will see them be given a chance to make an impression on a bigger setting. But for now, everyone who was there will be able to tell you just how exciting Stray From The Path are. SD
Everything said about Stray From The Path also applies to Stick To Your Guns (8). Another brilliant and vital sounding band who deserve a shot at something bigger. STYG take more of a straight up approach to hardcore than Stray only with huge choruses. Despite being a band for 15 years now this is their first time at Download and do everything they can to make as big an impact as possible. When it comes to passionate vocalists there aren’t many who can match Jesse Barnett. Everything he says between songs doesn’t feel like some rehearsed speech or just spouting slogans, this is a man who genuinely wants to do everything he can to make the world better. And this passion comes across in the songs as well. Nobody and What Choice Did You Give Us are huge slabs of hardcore with choruses that really pop out at you. But the surprising high point of the set comes when they slow things down and play The Reach For Me, it’s an emotionally powerful moment that really showcases the bands versatility. SD
As American Pie floods out of the PA into a steadily filling Dogtooth stage on Friday evening it’s clear that word is getting out about Savage Messiah (9). They’ve toured relentlessly, played with thrash heavyweights like Exodus and warmed up the crowds for labelmates Cradle of Filth and now they are once again playing the evening slot of the 4th stage at Download Festival. Once again, the audience is spilling out into the field behind. Opening with Blood Red Road, from latest opus Hands of Fate, the band waste no time in working the crowd as they are clearly up for it tonight and despite the muddy sound that so many bands in tents have to contend with at festivals, the audience are just as game.
Singer/guitarist Dave Silver is every inch the metal god with his white flying V guitar, leather jacket and beautiful hair as he encourages the crowd to go crazy for every song. In particular there is a blistering performance of Scavengers of Mercy, while long standing bassist Mira Slama is thundering his way through the set in a way that I can only imagine was like watching Steve Harris during Iron Maiden’s early days.
As the set continues with Hands of Fate and Eat Your Heart Out I started pondering why I think of them as sounding like an 80’s metal band, because they are nothing like the cheesiness from that era. I then realised it’s just because there’s no screaming in any of the songs like modern bands and a lot from the 90’s and every song is just so chock full of riffs. Ending with Wing and A Prayer, Savage Messiah once again win over new fans and cement themselves with their existing ones as a band very much on the up and who need to be seen live by anyone who hasn’t already as soon as possible. GL
Download’s tents are built for the intensity brought by metalcore misters blessthefall (7), not to mention the obscene heat from an understandably packed attendance. New additions ‘Wishful Sinking’ and ‘Cutthroat’ unfortunately sound less than impressive live compared to their usual face-melters but fans of the iconic ‘Hollow Bodies’ are treated to fifth anniversary revivals of the title track, the circle pit-inducing ‘Youngbloods’ and crowd-pleaser ‘You Wear a Crown But You’re No King’ which sounds glorious in such an intense environment. These welcome revisitations invigorate the densely-packed tent beyond its limits to the point the crowd spills out into the arena – the Arizona boys made the four years since their last appearance worth the wait. (AC)
Emmure (8) are certainly no strangers to Download, having brought the mosh in 2012 and 2014 previously. This year sees them bring their brand new lineup to Download for the very first time. By the time they hit The Avalanche Stage on Friday night it is already fit to burst and the moment the first note rings out the place explodes. Bathed in darkness and with enough swagger to see off an army of Connor Mcgregor’s in a standoff, Emmure proceed to bring riffs, breakdowns and good vibes for 30 minutes. Pulling out songs from their stellar latest album Look at Yourself, among old favourites like R2- Deepthroat and Children of Cybertron, this might be a new band but the fire of old still burns bright.
Emmure came to party and Download kindly obliged, and if the guy exiting the pit with a broken nose is anything to go by, some people will do just about anything for a good time in the mosh pit. On this form and causing this amount of carnage I just hope Emmure grace us with their presence again sooner rather than later. SC
Headlining the Avalanche stage on the Friday night, Bad Religion (8) performed a hit laden hour long set to a busy tent, smashing out classics including You, American Jesus and 21st Century (Digital Boy).
Vocalist Greg Graffin may not look like your stereotypical rockstar anymore with his grey hair and more casual dressed look but his voice was exceptional leading the crowd to sing and dance along throughout. The band supported Greg giving a tight performance adding plenty of style to the experience, finishing off the first day of the tents at Download 2018 with a blast. IW
Words by Sam Dignon, Greg Latham, Ali Cooper, Simon Crampton and Iain Willetts.
Stay tuned for our full run down of the Saturday and Sunday from Download 2018!