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Review: Download Festival – Melbourne

Punters began lining up early for 11am entry with the first band at midday. Most then took advantage of an early entry and headed to the merch tents, ample food vendors, got an early start at the bar or took up their much sought after spots on the rail of the main stages.

Artist: Various – Download Festival, Melbourne 2019

Date: 11th March 2019

Venue: Flemington Racecourse

Reviewer: Sebastian Marino

Monday 11th March 2019 and the weather gods were smiling over Flemington Racecourse in Melbourne, for the second instalment of Download.

Punters began lining up early for 11am entry with the first band at midday. Most then took advantage of an early entry and headed to the merch tents, ample food vendors, got an early start at the bar or took up their much sought after spots on the rail of the main stages.

First to grace the stage were 5 piece prog band Voyager who reign from Perth. It was quick to see that they have been in the business for 20 years with a professional look and a catchy tune, What a Wonderful Day getting folks primed for a big day ahead.

Ashley Costello fronts New Years Day and with a powerful voice its not hard to see why they had quite a crowd gathered early on.  With a touch of Goth Rock about them they got the crowd participating feverishly during Epidemic within a strong set.

Ruins are a band who have some old school sound about them, with a mixture of deep heavy slow and fast riffs. Punchy beats accompany some intense growls from the frontman Alex Pope ensuring these guys from Hobart are heading in the right direction.

Windwaker won the right to join the bill thanks to a Triple J Unearthed competition and brought a high energy metal core performance to a hungry crowd.  By their second song they had the crowd highly enthused with the first wall of the day.

Luca Brasi didnt need to remind anyone of their origins, with a huge backdrop of a Tassie Tiger and they have amassed quite a loyal following of their classic Aussie sounding alternative rock.  With 4 albums already in an impressive catalogue, they rattled  through around 10 songs in a 30 minute set.

Slaves are a very quirky punk rock duo with a standing Drummer/Singer Isaac Holman & Laurie Vincent on guitar. Great banter between songs and encouraging the crowd to hug the person next to them. Super funny song Fuck The High Hat, got a great response from the enthusiastic crowd.

I Prevail brought a heavy hitting show onto the Red  Stage with dual vocalists Brian Pourkheyser and Eric Van Lerberghe feeding off one another and the enthusiastic crowd lapped it up, just as Eric did whilst doing a shoey. Relatively new to the scene with  a huge future.

The Beatiful Monument are another band benefitting from their Triple J aiplay, on the back of their debut album I’m The Sin. Quite heavy with superb clean vocals from singer Lizi, they had the crowd seemingly surprised at their confidence in stage presence.

Iconic Aussie Rockers Airborne took no prisoners with a fantastic set featuring classics, Too Much Too Young Too Fast, Live It Up and Running Wild. Cheeky frontman Joel O’Keefe encouraging fans to light up anything or drink something they may have snuck in. Joel was  always keen to share his drink with the crowd.

Under the bigtop of the Avalanche Stage the glistening tattooed bodies of Fever 333 dominated the stage in a steamy session of Rap Metal/ Punk, ripping out a solid set featuring an amazing drum solo before closing out with Hunting Season.

The wind picked up for a short time whilst Behemoth were busy melting faces of the masses and did interupt the sound quality breifly. With an impressive stage show the lads from Poland had the the fans in the palms of their hands cranking out belters such as Wolves Ov Siberia,  Bartzabel and Chant For Eschaton 2000.

Eat Your Heart Out provided a tight grungy little set which was well appreciated. Hailing from Newcastle, vocalist Caitlin provided a powerful link to the other members.

With the intro toPantera’s  Cowboys from Hell progessing, Anthrax took to the stage receiving a raucous welcoming. Like a fine wine improving with age they blaseted favourites like Caught In a Mosh,  I Am The Law,  Anitsocial.  Joey,  Scott,  Johnathan,  Frank & his Uncle Charlie whipped the crowd into a frenzy showing why they are part of the Big 4 and show no signs of slowing down.

Metalcore favurites The Amtiy Affliction provided their usual impressiveness on the festival circuit with a great mix of songs entertaining the faithful.

With a quick break it was time to grab a snack from one of the multitude of food vendors with their enticing smells and a quick visit to Rare Records.

Over at the Dogtooth Stage the impatient horde began the chant of Frenzal Frenzal with plenty of Pell Awaits shirts on display. The Crazy Train intro was a pre cursor to the frivoloty which was to ensue. Tracks including Cunt Act, Russell Crowes Band, Storage Unit Pill Press, Bucket Bong, Never Had So Much Fun kept eveyone in a fantastic mood. I hope the five million dollar cheque came through guys.

Some fierce breakdowns were provided during the performance by Alien Weaponry in an astounding display of thrash metal. Being of Maori ancestry it becomes very clear of the importance of their culture in their music. A very loyal Kiwi and Aussie following which would be repeated on the same stage later in the day.

Over at the Black stage Rise Against went from strenght to strenth with time honoured melodies The Violence, Give It All,  House On Fire, Prayer of The Refugee all getting a resounding response.   

The Mortal Coil released in 2017 has done amazing things for Polaris who have become one of Australias favourite up and comers. The hard working 5 piece outfit from Sydney are about to take the world by storm.  Dueling Guitars & duel vocalists had the Pit bouncing to an impeccable setlist.

Taking things back a notch Alice in Chains provided the perfect setting for a brief cool down. With vocalist William Duvall joining originals Jerry Cantrell & Sean Kinney the seamless ease of entertaining captivated all. Opening with Bleed the Freak from 1991 we soon knew we were in for an epic performance.  Down In A Hole, Man In the Box were soaked up by the eager throng before closing out with Would? and Rooster.

In another dose of Kiwi Metal this time it was Devilskin’s turn to wow the audience. With an energetic display of cartwheels in between the sweetest calm  voice to  bellowing growls. Frontwoman Jennie Skulander was in a league of her own .

Paul Martin explains to the crowd to look out for friends after losing someone special to suicide. After recently supporting Slash they will be on to bigger things.

As dusk settled a smattering of sombreros mohawks and even ponchos were on display as I hurried back to the Black Stage. The unmistakable voice of one Rob Halford began to rise above all else.

Dressed resplendently in silver pants and customary leather jacket it was plain and simple Heavy Metal time. Richie Faulkner gave the fretboard a severe workout with hammer ons and silky scales all the while testing out the whammy bar. Quintessential songs Running Wild, Turbo Lover, Freewheel Burning and Painkiller pleased all.

Sum 41 gave an impressive display including a medley featuring Cowboys from Hell which led into War Pigs.  A little snippet of Another Brick in  the Wall was also on offer amongst others were Over My Head, No Reason and  Fat Lip.

Always a pleasure to see is local boys 12 Foot Ninja with their individual sound of funk/alternative metal.  Always super entertainers on stage and they didnt disappoint this evening. Catch their remaining shows before they head to Europe in June.

The curtain covered the main stage and the mood was set.  A deep red covered the stage with inverted crosses and pentagrams as the mighty Slayer appeared from the smokey haze. Goosebumps were felt as an astonishing intro of Repentless and Blood Red, Mandatrory Suicide, War Ensemble, early 80’s Captor of Sin and Black Magic all went down perfectly as did Seasons In The Abyss, Hell Awaits, South of Heaven, Raining Blood, before smashing everyone with  the trademark finisher Angel of Death.

Not many bands could pull fans away from a Slayer performance but Ghost certainly held their own with an impressive stage setup and equally impressive set list including Absolution, Faith, Miasma, Mummy Dust and Square Hammer, keeping everyone enthralled.

Crowd favourite frontwoman Lizzy Hale captivated an intimate audience with her band Halestorm.   With an array of talented songs featuring It’s Not You, Mz Hyde, Black Vultures, Love Bites (So Do I) and I Miss the Misery. 

Unfortunately we missed out on seeing Ozzy but we wish him all the best for a speedy recovery.  

Thanks to all involved in providing a safe, happy and very Heavy Metal festival.

Sebastian Marino. 

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