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Download Festival 2013: Day 1 Roundup

 
By on Friday, 21st June 2013 at 2:15 pm
 

Download Festival 2013 has already been hailed as a behemoth of the recent festival age. In Iron Maiden, Andy Copping chose a headliner to both win the hearts of the Monsters of Rock festival faithful, and show the next generation the damage a well placed gallop rhythm can do. In Slipknot and Rammstein, he found two bands on the cusp of welding themselves into metal folklore; cocking the Download line-up like a double-barrelled shotgun. Beyond the headliners, Download promised everything from Viking metal to gypsy punk, with a gilded seem of truck rock to drive 90,000 people through what threatened to be the wettest of summer weekends.

And, that’s how it took off on Day 1. At the Zippo Encore Stage Monster Truck were relentless; vocalist Jon Harvey beat on his bass like a hydraulic jackhammer, and the Hammond organ of Brandon Bliss ground out a vintage climax in all the right places. Afterwards, Dir En Grey offered a scene of atonal Asian horror that was perhaps a little too gothic for the good time vibes of the first morning.

Uriah Heep and Europe were Friday’s elderly statesmen, the living embodiment of proto-metal and glam rock, respectively. The Heep, as they were being affectionately alluded to around the crowd, took the Zippo Encore Stage through soaring crescendos and thundering hooves, to their own stately pleasure dome of progressive head-banging metal. Classics ‘Overload’, ‘Stealin’’, ‘Gypsy’ and, of course, ‘Easy Livin’’ sounded just as crisp as they would have done at MOR 1982. Later on in the afternoon, Europe joyfully rattled off ‘Scream of Anger’ and ‘Rock the Night’ before the inevitable ‘Final Countdown’. Singer Joey Tempest proudly proclaimed, “we made it! Just five ordinary guys from the outskirts of Stockholm”, and the crowd lapped up the last track like a £4.50 beer. However, Europe still appear blighted by the possession of a keyboard riff more famous than they are.

A somewhat wild-card entry, The Sword took a glazed-eyed Pepsi Max Stage crowd on a sojourn into ‘60s psychedelia via ‘90s groove metal. The drawl of lead vocalist John D. Cronise was fattened by a bass level that sounded like the HMS Subwoofer leaving port, leaving onlookers clutching their reverberating ribcages to try and stop their internal organs turning to mulch. ‘How Heavy the Axe’ – the bands biggest single to date – took on an entirely new dimension in a live setting, whilst the reaction to tracks off their latest album, ‘Apocryphon’, suggests this desert rock four-piece will remain a cult favourite for the foreseeable.

As if to make up for the dour Dir En Grey, self-proclaimed gypsy punks Gogol Bordello lifted the mood back at the Zippo Encore Stage, providing an island of carnival spirit in the sea of mosh. But, just because a metalhead is suddenly confronted by syncopation, it doesn’t mean he knows how to dance. Half the entertainment in this hour came from watching the uncoordinated masses (of which I undoubtedly count myself one) pull out their best Cossack manoeuvres, occasionally switching to a do-si-do with their beer-free arm. Politicised numbers, such as ‘Ultimate’, ‘Break the Spell’ and the frantic ‘Not a Crime’, melded seamlessly with the likes of an extended ‘Start Wearing Purple’; a more eccentric number which, although infectious, missed some of the theatrics of their performance at Leeds Festival 2007.

For Download’s majority demographic, the 18 to 30s, nu-metallers Korn and Slipknot would arguably be the most relevant acts to play on Friday. Korn – with their low-fi dynamics, metal scatting and wandering slap-bass – have a somewhat chequered history with this festival. In 2006, just a day before they were set to take on the Main Stage, an announcement came over the Download tannoy that singer Jonathan Davis had been hospitalised with a serious blood ailment. The crowd were stunned, but the remainder of Korn played on, with other vocalists, such as Corey Taylor, Benji Webbe and Dez Fafara, all pitching in. Despite a successful performance in 2011, this still felt like unfinished business for many.

Fieldy’s bass wove a subsonic tapestry through old favourites ‘Blind’, ‘Falling Away From Me’ and ‘Got the Life’, but the baying masses seemed split over some of their recent dubstep-flavour offerings, such as ‘Get Up’, and ‘Narcissistic Cannibal’. The bombastic ‘Here to Stay’ provided total unification; the crowd left fissured and spiralling from the pressure of such a nu-metal standard. By the time they smashed into final track ‘Freak on a Leash’, the arena was eating from their hands.

Slipknot (pictured at top), a band that have matured into metal statesmen over the past 5 years, left the 90,000 jiving to Billie Joe Spears’ classic ‘Get Behind Me Satan and Push’ before exploding in a wall of pyro into opening track ‘Disasterpiece’, from their debut album ‘Iowa’. By the third track, ‘Wait and Bleed’, the Slipknot loyalists had begun dismantling the arena, and each other, piece by piece. ‘Before I Forget’ had to be postponed whilst Corey Taylor pleaded for calm as security repaired the barriers, but this only served to stoke the fires at this sadistic circus. Five tracks later ‘Left Behind’ had to be halted after another testosterone release, and Taylor again took to the mic to ask everyone to take a step back. Needless to say, he’s one of the few in the live music industry who commands such absolute obedience.

One subject that, understandably, is never far from the collective Slipknot consciousness is the pain caused by the tragic death of former bassist Paul Gray. This year the band struck a different tone to that of Sonisphere 2011, with Taylor promising a future for the band and declaring, “we have kept going for us. We have kept going for him. We have kept going for you”. “I push my fingers into my…” was all the crowd needed to hear to raise a toast to Paul with ‘Duality’. ‘Psychosocial’, a mainstay of site sound systems all weekend, was massive, as was the sight of the entire Main Stage crowd down on their knees to ‘Spit it Out’. Their performance – bursting with passion, energy, sex and anger – was topped off by the epic ‘People = Shit’, and percussive ‘Surfacing’.

So, with blistered feet and bleary eyes the crowd shuffled away from the arena in fervent anticipation of Day 2.

 

Album Review: Korn – The Path of Totality

 
By on Wednesday, 7th December 2011 at 12:00 pm
 

If you’re a regular reader of TGTF then you’ll surely be aware that we don’t really cover metal to a great extent, but the new Korn LP isn’t your regular metal album. Produced by some of the hottest dubstep producers today, Korn have reinvented their sound whilst managing to keep it wholly their own.

Dubbed ‘The Path of Totality’, it is the tenth studio album from the band who are often credited with being the fathers of nu-metal. They’ve taken their original slack bass sound and added some extra megatons of wobble whilst Jonathan Davis’ voice resonates throughout. Opening on the fantastic ‘Chaos Lives In Everything’, Skrillex firmly places his rubber stamp all over the music with his own squelches and erratic drum beat. Despite the obvious dubstep overtones, however, it is still very much a Korn track with a huge anthemic chorus and headbanging breakdown.

‘My Wall’ (featuring Excision) has the feeling of an old school Korn track with Davis’ high-pitched tones delivering the angst-ridden lyrics “I put my wall up each day, you tear it down, I hide in my space, the space you found.” Unlike some tracks on the album, the dubstep isn’t overly powerful, there’s no over the top drop, instead it’s easy-going electronics and static.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CUOlc_j4rMA&ob=av2e[/youtube]

Current single ‘Narcissistic Cannibal’ is the stand-out song, though. It’s unrelenting dubstep combined with classic Korn and hits deeper and harder than anything Skrillex has ever produced by himself. It’s impressively dirty but has a chorus so large it will fill any arena and the car park outside with its crushing breakdown and Davis’ top form vocal performance. All the songs elements are flawless in their delivery and pack an incredible electro punch with bleeps, blips, whirrs and every other noise you can shake a sampler at, yet keeps its roots fundamentally in metal.

‘Get Up!’ is another full-throttle metallic thwack of dubstep infused metal (or vice versa). Starting with a huge drop that transcends into slower verses before a bridge overrun with wobbles culminates in the anger-fueled screamfest “Shut the fuck up, get up!”. Already a certified hit on rock club playlists, it’s everything you need in a party tune – a catchy beat, anthemic singalong lyrics and filthy dubstep laden throughout.

Not all of the LP is constant dubstep carnage, ‘Way Too Far’ is almost ominous with its vocal delivery and euphoric electronica. 12th Planet‘s evil ambience brings something different to the table throughout this innovative odyssey Korn are currently taking. Feed Me takes the new sound even further with ‘Bleeding Out’ that starts with a slow piano tune before switching to a trance keyboard and chugging riffs – there’s even the good ol’ bagpipes thrown in for good measure. What more could you want from one of the most consistently interesting bands in metal?

9/10

Korn’s ‘The Path of Totality’ is out now on Roadrunner Records.

 

Weekly Roundup: 15th February 2009

 
By on Sunday, 15th February 2009 at 11:18 pm
 

As another week draws to a close, we take a look back at the music news that has been hitting the headlines over the past few days!

RihannaLily Allen (pictured top) has topped both the single and album chart this week. ‘It’s Not Me, It’s You’, the follow up to Lily’s 2006 debut album ‘Still Alright’, shot to number one this Sunday. Meanwhile hit-single ‘The Fear’ has kept it’s top spot position for the third week in a row, scoring Lily a double chart hit.

Green Day have announced that they will be releasing their 8th studio album in May. Titled ’21st Century Breakdown’, the album is said to be swinging towards a power pop vibe rather than the band’s usual punk rock. The album artwork was also released this week and has been noted for it’s unusual similarity to Blur’s ‘Think Tank’.

Rihanna‘s (pictured right) dad has confirmed that the ‘Umbrella’ star has split with her singer boyfriend, Chris Brown, following an alleged domestic assault last week. Rihanna is said to have sustained visible injuries following the attack which has lead to the pop star cancelling several appearances including a Grammy performance.

Estelle Bennett, of 60’s girl group, The Ronettes, has died this week at the age of 67. Alongside sister Ronnie Bennett and cousin Nedray Talley, Estelle signed to Phil Spector’s Philles Records in 1963. The trio went on to become world-famous thanks to their trademark beehives and hit tracks, such as ‘Be My Baby’.

Def Leppard, Slipknot, Korn, Motley Crue, The Prodigy and newly reformed Limp Bizkit are just some of the big acts confirmed this week for Download Festival 2009. The rock and heavy metal bash takes place at Donnigton Park on Friday the 12th to Sunday 14th of June. Tickets are on sale now over at Download’s official site.

Finally, it’s unlikely we shall see The Smiths following in the footsteps of so many vintage bands out there anytime soon and throw together a reunion tour. Morrissey put an end to all rumours hinting of a possible Smiths unification this week, claiming he’s “not stuck in the past”. Intriguing, since, when on Jonathon Ross Friday night, following his performance of current single ‘I’m Throwing My Arms Around Paris’, Mozza went on to play nostalgic track ‘This Charming Man’ to the elated audience.

 
 
 

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