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Download Festival 2013 Review: Friday - Asking Alexandria, Korn, Slipknot And More!

Rock Sound
Rock Sound 14 June at 23.48

Architects, Asking Alexandria, Papa Roach, Korn, Bullet For My Valentine, Slipknot and more in our constantly updated review of Download Festival Day One.

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Click here for a full review of Download Day Two, including Iron Maiden, Queens Of The Stone Age, Enter Shikari, Bury Tomorrow and loads more!

Read our comprehensive review of Download Day Three here, featuring 30 Seconds To Mars, Rammstein, Parkway Drive, A Day To Remember and more.

Day one of Download Festival begins with some dubious clouds, a spot of rain and a deluge of tour dates from many of the bands playing across the weekend.

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Rise To Remain, Main Stage openers.

"We've been Architects, and you've been fucking amazing!" shouts a sodden Sam Carter, frontman of, er, Architects. He's right, we have. And even though their sets sees the light showers metamorphose into a bastard rain-storm, the reception they get is huge. 'These Colours Don't Run' is a thudding colossus of a tune and, despite the soggy conditions, it sounds nothing short of vast; the size of the crowd, accordingly, suggests most of the people onsite are in front of the main stage watching them tear shit up. It might not be the most glorious of slots but, considering how well they fared at Warped UK last year, Architects could very well use today's set as another argument for why they should continue to ascend festival bills in style. A fine way to kick-start the weekend. [BP]

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Crush. Riff. Crush. Riff. Headbang. Headbang. Riff. Riff. Hang The Bastard, over on the Pepsi Max Stage, might be Down's spiritual offspring in tone and vibe, and the number of sludged-out beardos watching them and banging heads with vigour shows that they might well have found their spiritual home. Their set is just unrelenting in its heaviness, but imbued with a rhythm and groove that means that while most of those present might not know who they are (riffs are met with cheers but no one's singing along) but it matters not - this kind of crushfuckinglygood rock needs little introduction before those within earshot start nodding along. The power of the riff compels them. [BP]

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Dir En Grey, Zippo Encore Stage.

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Two years ago, Asking Alexandria were a few hundred yards from where they are today, namely in what's now known as the Pepsi Max stage. Figuratively, though, it's a million miles from the main stage slot they now possess; a slot they've earned on the back of undergoing a transformation that's seen them become one of the nations major heavy metal players. With vocalist Danny Worsnop sporting a suit jacket they're certainly dressed for the occasion, and the likes of 'Breathless' - a song the frontman dedicates to "all of the lovely Download ladies" - and a soaring 'Someone, Somewhere' certainly go down a treat. With a new album ready to roll and a confident performance on the main stage now in the bag, where Asking Alexandria are in another two years is something an awful lot of people are sure to be waiting to see. [RB]

Unlike their main stage predecessors, Papa Roach have been there, done that and got the t-shirt several times over when it comes to commanding the biggest rock crowd the UK has to offer, and from the opening drum rolls of 'Still Swinging' it's obvious that today will be no less successful than usual. Diving straight into 'Between Angels And Insects', it takes seemingly no time at all for a suddenly sprawling crowd to spring into life, firing back every line and losing their minds with glee. Typically energetic and at times downright overjoyed, Jacoby Shaddix's calls for the heaving mass to "lose [their] minds" are redundant before they've even been issued, and by the time they bring the curtain down with a rousing 'Dead Cell', nobody here is in any doubt as to whether or not Papa Roach's latest Download crusade has been successful. [RB]



Phil Anselmo is a beast; today, he makes the colossal Main Stage feel like some papier-mache cage as he stalks around with his brothers in Down at his back. The sun's out and there's a purple cloud wafting over the massive crowd, so it must be time for some New Orleans heavy fucking metal. Whether it's Anselmo clawing at his own head before unleashing his hellish scream or guitarist Kirk Windstein headbanging like a nutcase, the riffs are married to a sense of triumph - everyone looks stoked to be here (a shout-out to Jeff Hanneman pays homage to those who couldn't join today's party), and it's a pleasure to witness a heritage band still going strong. [BP]

A short walk up the hill and around the corner on the Red Bull Studios stage, Brighton rockers Verses are proving that they've finally seemed to shake that 'unknown new band' tag that has hung around their neck for the last year or two. Despite being perhaps the most radio-friendly act of the weekend so far, they draw a solid crowd, and the likes of 'Little Catastrophe' and new song 'Making Statues' command singalongs and handclaps all round from the several hundred-strong crowd in front of them. Aided by the Red Bull stage's kind sound this afternoon, their three-part harmonies are note-perfect and in Jason Danzelman, they have a frontman with a truly impressive set of lungs on him. [AR]

Norwegian punks Blood Command, meanwhile, are an entirely different affair altogether. Less fists-in-the-air-and-hug-your-mates and more dance-til-your-feet-break and scream-til-your-lungs-give-out, they're fronted by the two-parts seductive, three-parts terrifying Silje Tombre, who spits and snarls through their 30-minute set with the sort of attitude and spark that first made us all stand up and take note of Frank Carter back in the early days of Gallows. They might have dropped their biggest draw in 'Cult Of The New Beat' a bit early on, but by the end of their final "Woah-oah" refrain, Blood Command have shown Download that they are every bit as electric and unique as a live band as their recorded output promises. [AR]

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Oh hello Motionless In White, with your impeccable stage attire and (perhaps newfound) bulletproof sense of confidence. Packing out the Pepsi Max stage, the Pennsylvania spooky metalcorers (is that a word?) show just how far they've come in the last few months – gone are the overblown exhortations for crowd participation in favour of some razor-sharp tightness and crushing renditions of 'Abigail' and new single 'AMERICA'. With a couple of shout-outs to Slipknot getting the crowd on their side from the off, frontman Chris Motionless stalks the stage and suggests that, given a nice outdoor slot on a larger stage, Motionless In White could well become one of Download's favourite bands. [BP]

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They may not be topping the outdoor bill just yet, but looking at the stage setup prior to Bullet For My Valentine's set this evening is like staring down the barrel of the biggest arena gig of the year, which is perhaps fitting given that the band's December arena tour was announced a mere few hours ago. Flanked by giant flame throwers and row upon row of flashing neon, Bullet are certainly talking a good game this evening, and judging from the crowd reaction they're capable of strutting their stuff as much as they are flapping their metaphorical gums. For more than an hour, the quartet have tens of thousands eating out of their palms, turning the crowd into a wave of devil horns that makes for quite the spectacle. The likes of 'Waking The Demon' pack a hefty punch that highlight their metallic chops to good effect, and although there's an elusive X Factor of sorts that prevents this from crossing over from good to great, the indications tonight are that the next time Bullet set foot on this stage they might not have to worry about anything other than closing things out. [RB]

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Converge might not be the right sort of 'heavy' to ever play a main stage slot as late in the day as this at Download, but under the Pepsi Max tent this evening, they're bringing the own inimitable, relentless brutality to an attentive crowd. They may be 25 years into their career, but Jacob Bannon has all the energy and fury of hardcore frontmen half his age, while behind him, the relentless machine-gun rhythms of drummer Ben Koller ensure 'Concubine', 'Worms Will Feed' and 'Trespasses' are pounded firmly into the skulls of the several thousand-strong crowd. The one thing that no other hardcore band has ever come to replicate is Converge's pure groove to their songs, and by the time it's over, this feels more like a lesson in doing it the right way - the Converge way - more than anything else.[AR]

On the one hand, you've got to hand it to HIM. Going up against Slipknot's first UK headline slot since Soni 2011, isn't a task we imagine too many bands would be up for tackling. Fortunately for them, there are enough people here to fill out the tent who'd rather soak up some love metal than the pure hate that's spewing from the main stage. It's just as shame that the best Ville Valo and Co. can offer is simply doing 'fine'. Sure, there are hits and bona fide singalongs (especially for the likes of 'Buried Alive By Love' and 'Wicked Game'), but the band themselves look to be doing little more than earning their paycheque. And whether you're a HIM sympathiser or not, the fact that every head here turns towards the main stage as soon as they finish a song says it all. [AR]

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Ultimately, though, despite a day of hearty and in some cases heroic efforts, any grabs for greatness suddenly look virtually worthless by the time that Slipknot arrive on the stroke of 9pm. Four years after their last conquering of Castle Donington, the knot may be a man down following the passing of Paul Gray but, as has been the case ever since, their spirit remains as unbreakable as their grip on the heavy metal crown. When you can include songs as ferocious as 'Liberate' and anthemic as 'Wait & Bleed' in your first three songs without having to worry about peaking too early, it paints a quite terrifying picture in terms of genuine greatness, and for nearly two hours this is a set worthy of the word. Despite two separate pauses due to the main stage barrier giving way, leading to scrambles by security in order to ensure that the show could continue, the sheer energy, adoration and pure love (perhaps best displayed during an emotional 'Duality') is obvious and ever-present from the first minute to the last. Ending with a positively stunning trio of '(sic)', 'People=Shit' and 'Surfacing', there is simply no other band of their generation quite as capable of closing out the day in such spectacular style. "We'll be seeing all of you again, much sooner than you think..." teases Corey Taylor shortly before the band make their victorious exit. And as 90,000 will attest, that moment can't come soon enough. [RB]

Click here for a full review of Download Day Two, including Iron Maiden, Queens Of The Stone Age, Enter Shikari, Bury Tomorrow and loads more!

Read our comprehensive review of Download Day Three here, featuring 30 Seconds To Mars, Rammstein, Parkway Drive, A Day To Remember and more.

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Rock Sound review crew: [RB] Ryan Bird, [BP] Ben Patashnik, [AR] Andy Ritchie

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