LIVE: Download Festival 2022 – Saturday

By Ellie Odurny

It’s been three long years since we’ve been able to grace Download Festival at its full capacity, and we are delighted to finally have it back in 2022. All four stages, countless amazing bands, beautiful sunshine and tens of thousands of eager, smiley, energetic and ever-so-slightly drunk rock and metal fans are all here to make up for lost time, and we are overjoyed to be a part of this reunion. With three jam-packed days of incredible music to explore, we made sure that we went well over our daily step count to indulge in as much live music as we possibly could and experience everything that rock’s spiritual home has to offer. It feels AMAZING to be back.

Words: Ellie Odurny; Images: Penny Bennett


If anyone needed a fierce wake up on this sunny Saturday afternoon, Yorkshire five-piece Malevolence are the band to deliver. Diving headfirst into an onslaught of sludgy, heavy beats and ferocious hardcore vocals, the band whip things into a frenzy from the off. Vocalist Alex Taylor surveys the fervent crowd with glee as the pits open up for opener ‘Malicious Intent’ and remain frantically active throughout the set. Mixed in with the technical drumming, classic guitar licks and crushing breakdowns are skilfully placed moments of subtlety, with guitarist Konan Hall’s clear vocals contrasting cleverly with the ferocity of metal riffs. Emotional 2020 track ‘The Other Side’ follows a touching call to remember those lost to suicide and encourage men to talk if they’re not ok, spreading an air of poignancy over the previously frenzied pit. The pace immediately picks up again for closer ‘Keep Your Distance’ as Malevolence display further technical prowess and unabashed brutal energy, leaving hundreds of hardcore pit hounds exhausted in elation.

Ice Nine Kills

Known for their theatrical horror shows, Ice Nine Kills certainly haven’t scrimped on the performance element of their set today, with mock beheadings, masks, props and drama galore. Not reliant on showmanship alone, they back up the carefully choreographed staging with a selection of slickly produced, punk-infused metal numbers. Finishers ‘Funeral Derangements’ and ‘The American Nightmare’ showcase vocalist Spencer Charnas’ wide-ranging vocal ability, along with the band’s technical expertise, with guitar trills and perfectly timed drum rolls aplenty. The production at times verges on overkill, and parts of the show certainly seem to be rehearsed to within an inch of their being, but the overall set is a masterpiece of charming, tongue-in-cheek hardcore packed with killer choruses and high-octane riffs.


Consistently impressive live, Loathe are characteristically on-form today, playing to an enthralled crowd in the moody shade of the Avalanche tent. Like a number of other bands on the bill this weekend, Loathe expertly mix screaming, metalcore vocals with cleaner melodies, always backed up with brutal basslines and screeching guitars. Add in some experimental electronic effects and the huge sound of crashing cymbals, and you’ve got a beautiful cacophony of heavy, technically brilliant noise. With a packed touring schedule booked in for the rest of the year, and a fourth album on the way, Loathe are one of the most exciting bands representing the UK right now, and if they continue smashing out sets like today’s, they’ll be well on the way to further global acclaim.

Will Haven

With no introduction, California noise-metallers Will Haven launch straight into the screaming, chaotic sound they’ve been perfecting over the past twenty-something years. The syncopated beats aren’t always precise but the looseness adds to the haphazard heaviness that’s been this band’s trademark from day one. Not known as a band big on chit-chat, they let the brutality of their art shine through, assaulting the small but committed crowd’s ears with a constant onslaught of noise. Despite sticking to a tried-and-tested pattern of song writing over the course of their career, the variety comes within the tracks themselves, with odd time signatures, eerie synths and techier elements keeping everyone on their toes. Will Haven are unlikely to win over any new fans by charming the audience with small talk, but anyone wandering into the Dogtooth tent in search of half an hour of impassioned noise-metal would have been suitably impressed.

The Faim

It’s possible that the Faim’s fanbase hasn’t yet spread that much outside of Australia, as a significant proportion of the small crowd assembled for their set on the Avalanche stage appear to be fellow Aussies, supporting their countrymen on this Saturday afternoon in the UK midlands. Despite the scant audience, vocalist Josh Raven still describes the view from the stage as “beautiful” as they serve up a selection of pop rock grooves. The band toured almost non-stop throughout 2019 before the pandemic put a stop to live shows and this shows in their confidence on stage. There are touches of raw emotion in slower number ‘Humans’ and moments of magic in the bluesy ‘Buying Time’, but the basic rhythms and melodies stray into mediocre territory at times.  The Faim aren’t going to win over any of the hardcore crowd looking for blast beats and ruinous breakdowns but with a new album set for release in July, and the right backing behind them, there’s definitely potential for them to continue to grow their following to pull in many more pop-inclined fans the next time they return to UK shores.


Tracking the movement of fans around the site on this eclectic Saturday would be an interesting indication of each act’s fanbase. It wouldn’t be a big surprise to find that the majority of lifelong Maiden fans had set up camp on the Opus stage after the early afternoon crowds had dispersed, ready for thrashers Megadeth to entertain them before the main event. The heavy, proggy output of Atlanta metallers Mastodon is just the tonic for the more discerning rocker, and they deliver a polished set full of powerful classics alongside some new material from last year’s double album ‘Hushed and Grim’. Never ones for light-hearted fluff, Mastodon blare out each track with technical brilliance, even through some unavoidable sound distortion from unwelcome cross-winds for those not directly in front of the stage. In contrast with the melancholy of their anguished lyrics and haunting harmonies, the band look genuinely happy to be here, and tear through each track with vigour, ending on the triumphant ‘Blood and Thunder’. The complexity of Mastodon’s song writing continues to highlight their musicianship as a band, and their ability to display this skill in a live setting never fails to impress.


With metal heavyweights Deftones billed at the same time as the colossal draw of Mastodon, it’s perhaps not surprising that the crowd at the Apex stage isn’t as busy as one might expect for the Sacramento five-piece. With bass and guitar duties on this tour performed by Fred Sablan and Lance Jackman respectively, the band opted for a more mellow set than might have been expected, and it didn’t always hit the mark. Chino Moreno’s vocals were great, when you could hear them, but a lot of muddy sound from that pesky wind interfering with a band who are known for playing in a very loose style meant that parts of the set felt a little warped, lacklustre and flat. Favourites ‘Be Quiet and Drive’, ‘My Own Summer’ and ‘Diamond Eyes’ still packed a punch, but what could have been a moody, interesting journey through some less obvious choices from an expansive back catalogue somehow seemed lacking in atmosphere and, dare it be said, a little dull. It’s a shame, as Deftones are a fantastic live band but this slower, more contemplative set might have been better saved for a dark indoor venue, rather than the evening sunshine of the main stage of one of the largest metal festivals in the world.

Funeral For a Friend

There’s barely space along the grassy sides of the Avalanche stage, let alone under the roof of the tent for Welsh post-hardcore outfit Funeral For A Friend. Squeezing through the masses to catch a glimpse of the band and packed out tent, the excitement exuding from the crowd seeps into the evening air. From the opening chords of ‘This Year’s Most Open Heartbreak’, the energy all around is infectious, and Funeral for a Friend launch into a set packed with favourites, each track more well-received than the last. There’s barely a single person present not singing along at the top of their lungs to ‘Red Is The New Black’, showing how much the quartet’s anthems stand the test of time. In addition to superb renditions of tracks from their hugely popular albums ‘Casually Dressed & Deep in Conversation’ and ‘Hours’, there’s a healthy dose of crowd interaction, complete with a moan about the pollen count and a comment on the toxicity of mainstream media as a preamble to ‘She Drove Me to Daytime Television’. If you weren’t a FFAF fan before, the atmosphere and passion, not to mention the collection of timeless emotional anthems of tonight’s joyous hour-long set would surely have converted you.

Iron Maiden

What is there to say about metal veterans Iron Maiden that hasn’t already been said over the course of their illustrious career? As big on elaborate staging as they are epic metal masterpieces, tonight’s show certainly doesn’t disappoint, opening with an ancient Japanese backdrop as a nod to opening track and most recent single ‘Senjutsu’. For a man in his sixties, Bruce Dickenson looks ever the rockstar, clad in leather trousers and a trademark billowing shirt, moving around the impressive set with as much ease as many of the younger performers to have graced the Apex stage so far this weekend. The phenomenal stage changes certainly also deserve a mention, with an appearance of the iconic Spitfire and familiar Cathedral backdrop from the Legacy of the Beast World Tour. The stage crew probably can’t take credit for the perfect timing of the sunset just as ‘Fear of The Dark’ gets going, but it adds a welcome eeriness to an absolute classic that can’t have been a total accident.

Endearing as the eccentric performances are, there is a slight feeling that this set is tiptoeing on the wrong side of nostalgia. The favourites are all there, yes, and they’re performed with precision, emotion and gusto, but as a band who have headlined Download Festival six times already, there’s a sense that we’ve seen it all before. Thankfully, the band don’t seem to be remotely jaded, and the shredding, riffing and smashing is as genuine and fiery as it’s ever been. By the time we get to the encore triple-punch of ‘The Trooper’, ‘The Clansman’ and ‘Run to the Hills’, even the part-time Maiden fans are reminded just how many definitive tracks this band have produced over the years. It’s not quite the same enormous send-off as the closing moments of last night’s headline performance from Kiss, but then this isn’t Iron Maiden’s last show. Will they headline at Donington for an eighth time? Only time will tell, but it doesn’t seem like these metal idols are going anywhere just yet.