LIVE: Download Festival 2019 – Sunday

By Gem Rogers

There may be plenty of alternative music festivals all across the globe these days, but Download Festival will forever hold a special place in the hearts of metalheads everywhere – and its reputation as one of the biggest and best events for rock and metal has been well earned over the years.

The final day of any festival is always most notable for crowds that can generally be described as ‘half-dead’, and Download is no exception – it’s definitely easy, by this point, to tell who’s only come in for the day as they bound around with fresh faces and unusually clean shoes. Today’s line-up is one of the most varied of the weekend, as metalcore sits alongside pop-punk, rock ‘n’ roll rubs shoulders with death metal, and thrash takes the crown with one of the festival’s most important performances.

Images: Penny Bennett, Words: Gem Rogers [GR], Dave Stewart [DS]

I Prevail

When it’s the final day of a festival like Download, it really takes something to keep bleary eyes open and weary brains alert – luckily, Michican’s I Prevail are just the band to do it. It takes a song or two for things to get moving, and there’s a few awkward lulls early on as the band disappear wordlessly to the back of the stage between tracks, but their light and melodic metalcore has just the right amount of aggression to open up plenty of pits in front of the main stage and keep the energy on maximum. There can be no doubting their dedication, either, as vocalist Brian Burkheiser sprints around the stage despite a broken foot; this is a band determined to give everything they’ve got. Dominated by tracks from sophomore album ‘Trauma’, incendiary numbers like ‘Gasoline’ and ‘Deadweight’ show just what a strong band they have become – the main stage is where I Prevail belong, and this won’t be the last time we see them on it. [GR]

Dinosaur Pile-Up

One of the first bands to tackle the Zippo Encore stage was the UK’s very own Dinosaur Pile-Up. Currently surfing the waves that their critically acclaimed new record ‘Celebrity Mansions’ has made for them, they came crashing into Download Festival to deliver their ballsy grunge-laced tunes to the early risers. Riffs flew in from every conceivable angle, from the gigantic closing chords of ‘Traynor’, to the infectious hooks of ‘Back Foot’. It started to rain heavily towards the end of their set, but everyone stood their ground and embraced it as front man Matt Bigland yelled “fuck the rain” to the sky. A perfect set from one of the country’s most exciting trios. [DS]


Leeds four piece Allusinlove – formerly known by the slightly less wholesome name Allusondrugs – are next up in a sparsely populated Avalanche tent. Their indie-infused rock and roll isn’t especially inspired, but it does come with a huge helping of groove and piercingly clear guitar, alongside outstanding vocals from front man Jason Moules. Though the gathered crowd are mostly fairly mellow, they show they aren’t averse to a bit of dancing at the band’s bidding – on the whole though, despite good delivery, it’s an unexciting half hour that struggles to be memorable in a busy weekend.


Back in the 1970‘s, The Clash fought the law, and the law won. Over on the main stage at Download 2019, Underoath fought the weather, and Underoath won. The weather was dire as the post hardcore legends took to the stage, but their signature brand of raw emotive power forced a gap in the clouds to let the sun beam down on the grounds. They utilised every single inch of the stage, darting around as they performed a nice blend of both older material and cuts from their newest record ‘Erase Me’ – the latter of which fell a bit flat on the crowd. Classic anthems ‘Writing On The Walls’ and ‘It’s Dangerous Business Walking Out Your Front Door’ went down a treat though, as did the surprise inclusion of one of their heaviest songs ‘Breathing In A New Mentality’. A solid performance from one of the genres most adored bands. [DS]

Heart Of A Coward

There’s been a lot of buzz surrounding Heart Of A Coward recently. Ever since the introduction of new vocalist Kaan Tasan and the release of new record ‘The Disconnect’, the metal community has been pining to see them live to see exactly what he can do and, ultimately, whether the band are still a force to be reckoned with. Not even halfway through the first song of their set, it became very clear that Heart Of A Coward are just as devastating as ever, if not more so. Every single song connected like a wrecking ball to a crumbling building, leaving nothing but dust clouds and astounded faces behind. Classic songs like ‘Shade’ and ‘Hollow’ completely filled the Avalanche tent with their fierce tones, and new material like ‘Drown In Ruin’ and ‘Collapse’ saw them confidently prove that they’re not a band to be forgotten about. A triumphant return to the big leagues for one of British metals finest. [DS]

Black Peaks

Black Peaks are one of the most unique and exciting bands to have emerged in recent years, and the number of people that were tightly packed into the Avalanche stage to witness their performance was testament to their popularity. Full of big hitters from their last two records, they stunned and amazed onlookers with ballsy performances of tracks like ‘Can’t Sleep’, ‘Say You Will’, and the riff-heavy rager ‘Glass Built Castles’, the latter of which caused the crowd to stir themselves into a frenzy. A lot of the intricacies of their music seemed to get a little lost in the tent, but it didn’t matter to anybody that was watching. Black Peaks really know how to put on a show – whatever may have been missing aurally, they more than made up for with an adrenaline-fuelled storm of a performance. [DS]

State Champs

It is an irrefutable truth that pop punk is made for sunshine, and sunshine is made for pop punk. It’s no wonder, then, that our glowing sky orb friend has come out to play for a set from reigning kings of the genre State Champs, and the Zippo Encore stage becomes one hell of a glorious place to be this afternoon. It’s not just their back catalogue of sensationally catchy, high quality songs that make this set beautifully enjoyable from start to finish; State Champs are also outstanding performers, never putting a foot wrong and infusing the area with enough energy to power a small county. Some bold attempts at circle pits on a muddy slope ensue, along with huge singalongs to the likes of ‘Secrets’ and ‘Dead And Gone’ – State Champs are nothing short of masterful throughout. Long live pop punk. [GR]

Crystal Lake

Japanese quintet Crystal Lake released their album ‘Helix’ earlier this year to rave reviews, and their live show has a reputation for being complete chaos – as a result, it was no surprise to see that the Dogtooth tent was overflowing with people for their set. Without warning the band launched into ‘Agony’, putting on an unenthusiastic performance that still managed to turn the tent into a giant whirlpool, but as it turned out, they were still only soundchecking. That’s right, folks – they had circle pits and crowd surfers before they’d even started their set. When they did start though, the carnage that ensued was utterly relentless. The band transformed from quiet and reserved, becoming enigmatic bundles of energy, exerting electricity with every step. Bodies flew over the barrier from all directions as they smashed through gigantic songs like the groovy nu-metal smash ‘Hail To The Fire’, the gigantic ‘Apollo’ and the raw and unpredictable ‘Aeon’. Technically brilliant, musically intense, and physically impressive, Crystal Lake are completely unstoppable. [DS]


Prog fans have been spoilt for choice over this weekend, with numerous progressive and instrumental acts spread across all three days of the festival. Sunday was no different, seeing British trio Toska claim the Dogtooth stage as their own. Another unfortunately short set due to the sheer length and complexity of the bands songs made it feel like the performance was already over before it’d gotten into full swing, but the crowd lapped up every note nonetheless. Front man and lead guitarist Rabea Massaad was genuinely taken aback and stunned by the number of people in the tent as they gracefully danced through their technically impressive set, accompanied by deafening cheers and applause from fans both in and out of the tent. Stunning prog wizardry performed with absolute passion and precision. [DS]


It might be the ongoing sun going to everyone’s heads that causes the crowd at the Zippo Encore stage to drop everything in favour of colossal moshpits and a general descent into chaos – but, more likely, it’s a sign that Beartooth have taken to the stage. “I’ll be banging my head ‘til my brain rots” couldn’t be more appropriate lyrics as the five piece go full force with opener ‘Bad Listener’, blending utterly delicious melodies with passion, fire, and plenty of thrashing guitar.With enough bite to appease even those down the front waiting for Slayer, nobody could leave this set feeling unsatisfied, and the feel-good vibes are undeniable. Beartooth are, without a doubt, on their way to a headline slot on the main stage, and it won’t be long before they’re there. [GR]

Lamb Of God

Virginian metal outfit Lamb Of God are a band who’ve truly earned their slot at the top end of the main stage, and the gigantic crowd they’ve amassed seem to agree. Their instantly recognisable groove metal sounds fill the air as they thunder through tracks from across an impressive and expansive career so far; opener ‘Omerta’ destroys everything in its path with crushingly furious riffs, and the scene is set for an hour that metalhead dreams are made of. Front man Randy Blythe is as intense and captivating as vocalists come, his snarling vocals utterly faultless as he stalks the stage like a predator; and though the band are missing drummer Chris Adler as he recovers from injuries sustained in an accident, replacement Art Cruz is more than capable of filling the gigantic shoes Adler left with effortless style. The pit is little more than a writhing mass of bodies as circles form and merge constantly to the thunderous sounds of songs like ‘Walk With Me In Hell’ and set closer ‘Redneck’, and if anyone had any energy left on this Sunday afternoon, it’s surely spent by the end of this set. Lamb Of God are an imposing force, and though they sit among some of the biggest names in metal on today’s line-up, they easily hold their own and dominate the stage – the future of heavy metal is in safe hands with the likes of them to carry it. [GR]


This weekend has been graced by some true legends of the metal and rock world, but few were able to bring out the party quite like Anthrax. Most bands that have been going for as long as they have tend to show signs of their age in their performances, but not these thrash metal monsters – they were so energetic that they put the majority of younger bands on the bill to shame. The band are incredible entertainers, starting their set at full throttle and not letting up until the very last note had faded away. Cramming their set full of all their biggest and best hits caused smiles and good vibes to spread throughout the crowd, with songs like ‘Madhouse’, ‘I Am The Law’, and the mosh-tastic ‘Indians’ providing punch after punch. They didn’t miss a note, they didn’t stop moving, and they didn’t let a single person in the audience leave without a smile on their face. To top it all off, the sun got even sunnier during their set – it wouldn’t be surprising if their positive, feel good attitude made its way skyward. Thrash metal kings proving exactly why they’re still deserving of the crown. [DS]


To the surprise of absolutely nobody, Whitechapel brought the heaviest set of the weekend to the Dogtooth stage. Moodily stepping out onto a eerily lit stage, Phil Bozeman and crew wasted no time opening the gates of hell, tearing straight into the disgustingly powerful ‘Brimstone’ as the crowd turned the tent into a warzone. The short set spent most of its time flaunting the band’s new material, showcasing cuts like the brutal ‘Forgiveness Is Weakness’ and the haunting black metal-tinged ‘When A Demon Defiles A Witch’ – but they also reached deep into their back catalogue as a respectful nod to their long term fans. The biggest throwback they played was 2008‘s ‘Father Of Lies’, which caused one of the most aggressive pits the tent saw all weekend. The entire performance was pure evil, almost like Whitechapel had signed a deal with Devil himself to create sounds so dark and unnerving. Absolute carnage from beginning to end. [DS]

Dream Theater

Back over on the Zippo Encore stage, prog metal lovers flocked around the stage to witness Dream Theater melt some minds with their undeniable talent. Every single member of the band is a true virtuoso at their instrument, particularly guitarist John Petrucci and bassist John Myung who are both hugely respected throughout the music world. Aurally they were flawless, each member of the band performing a note perfect set with absolute precision and ease. Songs like the 9 minute epic ‘In The Presence Of Enemies Pt 1’ and the stunning ‘Dance Of Eternity’ were completely faultless, causing many jaws in the audience to drop, eyes gazing forwards in both amazement and disbelief. It was incredible to listen to – just very boring to watch. The only member of the band that actually did some moving was vocalist James LaBrie, and that was mostly walking on and off stage to avoid him standing around during the lengthy solos. They were musically incredible, but visually underwhelming. (DS)

Fever 333

If Fever 333 aren’t a familiar name yet, it’s definitely fair at this point to ask where you’ve been for the last year. Their secret set here in 2018 was one of the hottest topics of the weekend (and beyond), so their promotion to sub-headliners on the Avalanche Stage seems only right – word has definitely spread far and wide, and the tent is rammed long before the set begins. The Fever’s fiery brand of empowering rock music hits hard, and their message of social justice spills over into every crevice of their performance as enigmatic front man Jason Aalon Butler speaks out to the underrepresented, and to those who can make a difference. Unfortunately, the sound in the Avalanche Tent is once again frustratingly poor; Butler’s vocals are frequently far too low in the mix, and the backing track overpowers just about everything else. It takes nothing away from their overall performance and message, but it’s difficult to enjoy the set as much as we should be able to – fortunately, they’re going nowhere anytime soon, and we’ll have plenty of opportunities to enjoy them when they inevitably ascend to bigger stages in future. [GR]

Enter Shikari

Following a band with a growing reputation for one of the best live performances on the scene would be a difficult feat for some – but when you’re Enter Shikari, and you’ve spent more than ten years building your own fearsome reputation for destroying every venue in sight, there’s very little to worry about. From the second Shikari take to the stage, it’s a toss-up as to who’s loudest out of the band on stage, and the thousands of people spilling from the Avalanche tent for the stage’s final set of the weekend.  Dazzling light shows, confetti aplenty, and a good helping of pyro come together to support their unique, genre-defying music; the infusion of drum and bass, techno, and just about anything else they fancy with rock absolutely shouldn’t work, but in their enthusiastic and talented hands it results in nothing short of the best party you’ll ever attend. The passion on stage is reflected in the non-stop movement in the crowd – including a pair of fans managing the impressive feat of climbing one of the tent supports, threatening to bring the show to an abrupt halt (boo, health and safety) – and it’s easy to see how this band inspire such a joyous reaction with their flawless performance and strong beliefs in a better world. It may not be the end of our weekend just yet, but if it was, this hour with Enter Shikari would be a perfect way to finish it. [GR]


It’s difficult to know what to say when faced with the final UK set from a band who, over a nearly forty year career, came to be the defining face of an entire subculture. Say “I like metal” to anyone outside our world, and the first question you’ll probably get back is “oh, so like, Slayer?” This is a band who paved the way for hundreds of bands to follow, and not just for thrash. Sticking two fingers up to the establishment, Slayer ploughed forward with their satanic hymns and brought generations of metalheads along for the ride – and now, on this final night at Donington, we must say goodbye.

It’s not too surprising that the Zippo Encore stage has never seen a crowd the like of this one, reaching back to every corner and food van that surrounds it. Though those at the back of this mass of people may be quietly absorbing every moment of the set, the pit at the front is living up to every bit of the mad reputation Slayer shows have earned as they plough through decades-worth of utterly unforgiving thrash, packing no less than twenty tracks into their 90 minutes. It goes without saying that they are nothing short of flawless from the very first notes of ‘Repentless’, followed by the likes of ‘Evil Has No Boundaries’, ‘South of Heaven’, and ‘Chemical Warfare’. It’s frustrating that, towards of the end of the set, the sounds of an overly loud Tool on the main stage make their way over to the back corner of the field; for those on the right hand side, it becomes instantly difficult to focus and feels like an injustice for a set as momentous as this.

When the time comes and the final notes of ‘Angel Of Death’ ring out across the field, it’s an end that feels almost too abrupt. In reality, it’s an ending that nobody could ever have been ready for. It speaks to the impact of this band that a significant percentage of this audience weren’t even born when their first album was released, yet Slayer’s music has been woven into their lives and taken root in their hearts. Few words are spoken, but as the band look out on the crowd and take their time to soak in these final moments, the heartfelt love and respect is clear and mutual. There will never be another Slayer, and their presence is something we will never cease to be grateful for.


It’s not every day you get to see Tool play a show. It’s actually rare you see them do anything these days, forever surrounded by mystery as they let rumours and hearsay do their marketing for them. That marketing seems to have done an incredible job here, with thousands of metallers flocked around the main stage to witness what was sure to be an enchanting performance. They were the first and only band of the weekend to not use the big screens surrounding the stage to broadcast live footage of the performance – instead opting to use mind-bending visuals. In that moment, this transcended into something more than mere performance – it was art. Every song essentially became part of an elaborate set of short films, with each video shifting and changing to fit the vibe of the music behind it. If you stood really far away from the stage there was no real way to tell it was really them – it could have been anybody dressed up as Tool. But no one has pipes like Maynard James Keenan, and no one else could’ve played this set with such swagger and grace.

The set was flawless, spending time in all of the best moments of their back catalogue. Songs like ‘The Pot’ and ‘Parabola’ caused mass singalongs to erupt throughout the field, metalheads reaching out to embrace one another as they projected their voices towards the stage. Fan favourite ‘Schism’ went down a storm, provoking an even mixture of pit breakouts and stunned jawdrops to occur. They even played a cut from 1992, ‘Part Of Me’, with Maynard introducing it to the crowd by saying “If you’re under 27, when we wrote this song you weren’t even sperm yet.” Closing their performance with the haunting and punchy ‘Vicarious’ and the stunning ‘Stinkfist’ was a masterstroke, leaving everyone in the audience confident that they’d just witnessed something special. It was a completely different vibe to Slipknot the night before, but not in a bad way. Everyone watching Slipknot expected chaos and they got it – everyone watching Tool was there to admire a legendary band excel at their craft, and that’s exactly what happened. There is no band quite like Tool. [DS]