Festival Preview: Download Festival 2017

It is that time of year again when rock fans from all walks of life descend on Donington Park. While it’s likely going to rain (it’s inevitable, right?) that shouldn’t dampen your spirits this weekend. The Download Festival is always a highlight on the music calendar and this year is no different.

The 2017 three-day event serves up one of the most eclectic lineups the festival has ever had. From rock legends, Aerosmith to American rapper Machine Gun Kelly to synthwave (see Perturbator) and everything in between, Download 2017 has a hell of a lot on offer.

With such a diverse mix of bands on show, there’s sure to be the inevitable set clash. Nevertheless, Already Heard is on hand to advise you on 19 bands you can’t afford to miss this weekend.

PREVIEW | ESSENTIAL PLAYLIST | STAGE TIMES | FESTIVAL INFO

Biffy Clyro

At around 9:15pm on Saturday 10th June, the sun will begin its descent, lights will start to flicker on, and the ground of the Download Main Stage will become overwhelmed by chants of “‘Mon the Biff, ‘Mon the Biff!”

At long last, Biffy Clyro has a headlining spot at Download, and it’s a spot that has been in the making for almost as long as the festival has existed, since the Ayrshire trio have appeared at Download since they were playing below Pennywise in 2004 shortly after releasing ‘The Vertigo of Bliss’. Spending their years moving up in the lineup before opening for Metallica in 2012, now is the time for Biffy to own the Main Stage with their gold-plated back catalogue of hard hitting alt-rock glory.

Their November/December UK tour was a sign of the band on the top of their game with an immersive stage setup and light show to match, set to captivate an audience of 90,000. What we look forward to finding out is how far back into their back catalogue they’ll reach. While new tracks ‘Animal Style’ and ‘Howl’ will gain infectious sing-alongs, will the delirium of ‘There’s No Such Thing as a Jaggy Snake’ and ‘A Day Of…’ cause the huge crowds to throw some huge shapes, all while fitting in classics like ‘Living Is a Problem…’, ‘Mountains’ and ‘Folding Stars’? There’s no way of knowing unless you turn up, and not doing so is frankly inexcusable in 2017. (AD)

Where & When: Main Stage – Saturday, June 10th

Prophets of Rage

If the recent South American leg of the Prophets of Rage tour is anything to go by, Download should be absolutely insane. With a set liberally peppered with Rage Against the Machine classics like ‘Bullet in the Head’ and ‘Killing in the Name’, delivered by not one but two killer MCs in Chuck D and B-Real, the protest super group sure know how to rock a crowd. But don’t be fooled, this is no nostalgia trip, sure there is classic material in the mix from RATM, Public Enemy and Cypress Hill, but with an album due in September the Prophets are looking as much to the future as they are celebrating the past. The dynamic in PoR works impressively well, the MCs adding a freshness to the Rage material while Tom Morello and co add some real crunch to the rappers’ work that makes for a hard hitting listen. System of A Down might have a hard time following this. (EL)

Where & When: Main Stage – Friday, June 9th

Slayer

Yeah, we all know the arguments the ‘true fans’ like to make. It’s not the original lineup anymore, the new material isn’t great, and the members are past their prime. And none of these arguments matter, because when Slayer turn up to headline the Zippo Encore stage on Sunday night, it’s going to be total carnage.

Anyone who has caught metal’s Godfathers at their Sonisphere and Bloodstock appearances and 2015 UK tour, know for a fact that from a live standpoint, age hasn’t hindered or caused them to compromise the ferocity of their show in any way. As a matter of fact, Slayer’s set might be one of the most energetic of the weekend, because who doesn’t want to get in the pit when they hear anything off ‘War Ensemble’, ‘Disciple’ or anything from ‘Reign in Blood’?

As one of the most timeless bands in the genre and many people’s gateway band to more extreme metal, Slayer’s festival sets always attract crowds of all ages, and everyone will be losing their minds. (AD)

Where & When: Zippo Encore Stage – Sunday, June 11th

Code Orange

Having delivered one of the best heavy albums of the year in ‘Forever’, Code Orange’s return to Download comes just months after an impressive run support Gojira. With a twisting and intense barrage of noise on offer, the Pittsburgh quartet is one of the festival’s most anticipated acts. With songs such as the infectious ‘Bleeding In The Blur’, the pulsing electronics of ‘The Mud’ and the sludge-ridden ‘Spy’ in their arsenal, don’t be surprised if the Avalanche Stage tent is shaking on Friday afternoon. The forecast suggests a wave of dense of hardcore and metal will be hitting Donington Park.

Code Orange are intent of leaving a lasting impression, and we have a feeling they will definitely do that. (SR)

Where & When: The Avalanche Stage – Friday, June 9th

Every Time I Die

Download has a reputation for the unexpected taking place over three days, but one thing that can be guaranteed is the weather will be wet and miserable, so why not get yourself into the Avalanche stage, where Every Time I Die will bring the heat in spades?

Over the past decade and a half, the Buffalo metalcore pioneers have been responsible for some of the rawest, and uncompromisingly nasty records in the punk and metal sphere and have matched them with live shows that deliver the same excitement and pain and spontaneous combustion. Last year’s ‘Low Teens’ became a firm favourite record among the Already Heard team for both its selection of barnstorming riff-storms in tracks like ‘Glitches’ and ‘The Coin Has a Say’ as well as the anthemic ‘It Remembers’, which is sure to be played in the tent and at all future live shows.

But there’s no doubt that whatever they play, the band and crowd will be firing on all cylinders, and immersing yourself in all that chaos has to beat standing in the rain like a muppet, right? (AD)

Where & When: The Avalanche Stage – Saturday, June 10th

A Day To Remember

Our favourite Ocala, Florida natives have been working their way up the Download for several years. From making their debut in 2008 to sub-headling to Limp Bizkit on the second stage in 2013, to making the jump to the main stage two years ago.

They’re now back for the sixth time and subbing for Saturday night headliners Biffy Clyro. With the ongoing argument of future headliners, A Day To Remember will be looking to throw their name into the discussion, and rightly so. They have a plethora of mosh-made anthems at their disposal and have a proven track record of stepping it up when they need to; their recent UK arena show is evident of that. Also, expect to see a sea of inflatables at some point during their set. (SR)

Where & When: Main Stage – Saturday, June 10th

Mastodon

Atlanta metallers Mastodon aren’t strangers to the Download main stage. Anyone who caught their set in 2013 will recall the sun peeking its head through rain crowds during an anthemic performance of ‘Curl of the Burl’, making it one of the weekend’s highlights. And while their set then comprised largely of material from 2011’s hook-laden ‘The Hunter’, they return in 2017 on one of their finest albums to date in ‘Emperor of Sand,’ providing a range of new material to choose from.

The Mastodon live experience can differ depending on location, and while die-hard fans will attest that an intimate indoor setting complements the expansive prog metal of ‘Crack the Skye’ and ‘Blood Mountain’, let’s not forget that when Troy, Brent, Bill and Brann make anthems, they make skyscraper-sized anthems. And if the idea of tens of thousands of people simultaneously losing their shit to ‘Blood and Thunder’, and ‘The Wolf is Loose’ doesn’t make you want to climb over crowds to get to the front of the stage for their set, well, there are three other stages you can go to. But you’re missing out. (AD)

Where & When: Main Stage – Friday, June 9th

Creeper

With a top twenty album in their pocket and a successful UK tour under their belt, Creeper’s main stage set at Download couldn’t come at a better time. Southampton’s finest horror punks have finally started fulfilling their potential, ‘Eternity, In Your Arms’ proving a roaring success, well received by both critics and fans alike, and they’ve even managed some heavy rotation on the more commercial radio stations. So being on the main stage when they are sharp from touring and high on growing ambition looks like the icing on the cake and perfectly set up for early afternoon glory. Their penchant for the theatrical and pretensions to the grandiose should be well suited to the bigger stage, so expect a mood of celebration as one of Britain’s finest rock bands of the moment look to take another step towards the big time. (EL)

Where & When: Main Stage – Saturday, June 10th

Max & Iggor Cavalera Return to Roots

For the die-hard Sepultura fan, Max & Iggor Cavalera Return to Roots is not to be missed. The Cavalera brothers, who founded the Brazilian thrash giants, have got back together to commemorate 20 years of the groundbreaking Seps album, Max’s last before his 1996 departure. ‘Roots’ was one of the most innovative metal albums in history, blending thrash metal fury with Brazilian rhythms and nu-metal influences and the brothers are performing the album in its entirety for audiences around the world. This is the kind of thing that only comes around once, so for lovers of early Sepultura it’s a must. (EL)

Where & When: Zippo Encore Stage – Saturday, June 10th

The Dillinger Escape Plan

If you’ve seen The Dillinger Escape Plan before, you know good and well that you’re going to be immersed in the art of purest chaos. If you haven’t, then make this your chance to because their Download appearance is part of their farewell tour, before they hang up their torch of disaster they’ve ran with since 1999’s ‘Calculating Infinity.’

Headlining the Avalanche Stage on Sunday (because let’s face it, no one else is gonna follow that up), DEP are set to close the weekend on a meteoric explosion. Frontman Greg Puciato and guitarist Ben Weinman are likely to spend more time in the audience than onstage and if anything can be jumped off of, make no mistake, they will find it.

Their six-album back catalogue concluding with last year’s world-beating ‘Dissociation’ has provided fans with music celebrating the weird side of metal, unleashing uncontrollable song structures, slamming hardcore riffage and a vocal performance from Puciato that spans from fire-spitting screams to charismatic pop hooks with a depth the world hasn’t experienced since Faith No More. So get down to the tent and say goodbye to the biggest trailblazers in heavy music. (AD)

Where & When: The Avalanche Stage – Sunday, June 11th

Knuckle Puck

Like it or not, the growth of pop-punk in recent years meant it was only a matter of time it was going to make an impression at Download. While there’s been a smattering of bands from the genre in the past, the creation of the Avalanche stage this year sees the genre represented in a big way. Amongst them is Chicago’s Knuckle Puck.

Their brand of pop-punk has an emotive, angsty core that goes beyond the stereotypical style. As 2015’s ‘Copacetic’ LP and more recently, their ‘Calendar Days’ / ‘Indecisive’ 7" showed, the quintet take a more considered approach with plenty of impassioned, soaring choruses on hand. Crowd surfers and finger pointers at the ready, Knuckle Puck look to lead the pop-punk charge on Donington. (SR)

Where & When: The Avalanche Stage – Saturday, June 10th

Basement

Having played a numerous festivals all over the place, Basement have yet to appear at Download until now. The past 18 months has seen the Suffolk band ride a wave of momentum. Their long-awaited comeback album, ‘Promise Everything’, was released to plenty of praise last year and was then given the deluxe treatment on their new label, Fueled By Ramen / Warner Bros. UK, this past March. Their CV also includes supporting Bring Me The Horizon on their UK and European tour late last year.

The quintet are known for their melancholic, grunge-tinged emo alt-rock. Throw in several catchy choruses and the odd infectious riffs, and you’re left with one of the most exciting prospects on the Avalanche stage. Basement will have a point to prove, especially if they’re up against Alter Bridge and Opeth at the same time, but we have a feeling they’ll be just fine. (SR).

Where & When: The Avalanche Stage – Sunday, June 11th

Fozzy

Many moons ago when Fozzy made their Donnington debut, they were pretty much a curiosity covers band featuring a wrestler and a cult hero riff merchant. But through that, and consequent performances, UK fans soon realised they were far more than that. They were a bloody strong metal band too.

Several years and multiple original albums later, the band are a bonafide metal-producing machine. That their frontman also happens to be the world’s most gifted wearer of scarves and compiler of lists is basically irrelevant, at this stage they’re simply one of the most reliable metal acts around when it comes to entertaining and wowing a crowd. Oh and as the hook on criminally addictive recent single ‘Judas’ demonstrates, guitarist Rich Ward’s writing has only matured with age like brutally potent whisky. (DW)

Where & When: Main Stage – Sunday, June 11th

Touché Amoré

If you’re wanting raw, emotive post-hardcore, then look no further than Touché Amoré. The Californian quintet’s fourth album, ‘Stage Four’, is a lyrically heavy record and was on many of ‘Record of the Year’ lists (including ours) last year.

It’s the latest in a series of acclaimed albums for TA, Jeremy Bolm’s lyrically are equally poet and devasting, yet easily draw you in on its sheer emotional power. Recent cuts, ‘New Halloween’ and ‘Rapture’ alongside old favourites ‘Pathfinder’ and ‘The Great Repetition’ are sure to send the Download crowd into a frenzy.

With the combination of Jeremy Bolm’s impassioned vocals and his bandmates stringent post-hardcore sound, Touché Amoré have all the ingredients to leave an impressive at Download on Sunday. (SR)

Where & When: The Avalanche Stage – Sunday, June 11th

Red Fang

Red Fang don’t indulge in much onstage banter during their shows, they don’t ask audiences to pump their fists in the air, or gets them to holler “hell yeah” back at them. Because once they plug in and start lashing out one juicy riff after the other, they already have the crowd in the palm of their hands.

Whether you’re well versed in the Portland quartet’s back catalogue or you only know them as the bearded guys who made the music video where they drive a car at lots of different stuff, the Red Fang live experience will leave you beaming from ear to ear. There’s enough psychedelic old school metal jamming to provide an entrancing drinking soundtrack and there’s enough fury to classics like ‘Prehistoric Dog’ and ‘Doen’ to incite a wave of pitting across the Zippo Encore Stage. And for a chance to sing along to a song about dogs coming from space to destroy humanity, why wouldn’t you want to watch this band live? (AD)

Where & When: Zippo Encore Stage – Sunday, June 11th

Astroid Boys

Away from the predictable metal and heavy rock fare, Cardiff’s Astroid Boys can lay claim to being arguably the most diverse act of the entire weekend. Their unique approach clashing together raw grime rhymes, crushing hardcore and a DIY punk ethos resulted in mind-meltingly brilliant second EP, ‘Bacon Dream’ late last year. The scenes when the riff of ‘Dusted’ drops are something we can’t wait to behold.

With shows alongside Enter Shikari pencilled in for later this year, Download is the perfect introduction to what CF10’s Astroid Boys have to offer. (DW)

Where & When: The Avalanche Stage – Friday, June 9th

Exodus

There is a healthy dose of old school thrash to stir up the mosh pits at this year’s Download and it doesn’t get more old school than Exodus. This was one of the first bands on the Bay Area scene, spawning Metallica legend Kirk Hammett and current Slayer guitarist Gary Holt, and without whom the entire scene never would have thrived. Quite possibly the most overlooked and underrated thrash band in metal history; the big four could just as easily have been a big five, such is the quality of albums like ‘Bonded by Blood’ and ‘Fabulous Disaster’. Despite various line up changes, Exodus have continued at the forefront of the thrash game, 2014’s ‘Blood In, Blood Out’ showing they are still as sharp as ever. Headlining the Dogtooth Stage on Friday with legendary vocalist Steve “Zetro” Souza behind the microphone, expect an adrenaline fueled frenzy and one of the wildest mosh pits of the day. (EL)

Where & When: Dogtooth Stage – Friday, June 9th

The Cadillac Three

In recent years, US country bands have been smashing out huge, riff-driven arena, festival-ready, vintage rock anthems with more aplomb and regularity than their alt-rock counterparts. This has lead to an increasing number of bands blurring the genre divide so seamlessly, that they conquer both scenes at once, becoming unstoppable radio-dominating monsters Stateside. One band riding the crest of this wave are The Cadillac Three, who in another happy coincidence that makes them a perfect festival act, also specialise in writing big, singalong numbers about boozing.

Normally beer, sometimes whisky, and the choruses are so infectiously simple that you can still belt them out after an ungodly quantity of either. Don’t be deceived though, there are plenty of solid riff-delivering chops and authentic Southern rock jams on offer too from this Nashville trio. (DW)

Where & When: Main Stage – Sunday, June 11th

Wallflower

Wallflower will be opening the Avalanche stage on the final day of the festival, and while they might not please the most ardent metal spectators, they do bring an impressive, sonically quiet-loud emo rock formula to proceedings. The South London quintet have been turning heads in recent months with shows supporting The Maine, Boston Manor, Decade, and appearing on the occasional “ones to watch” list.

Like many bands, Download will be a fine opportunity to expose themselves to possible new fans. With a blend of explosive, impassioned alt rock and tender, harmonious moments, Wallflower are sure to leave an impression to the early risers. (SR)

Where & When: The Avalanche Stage – Sunday, June 11th


Essential Playlist


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Stage Times

Friday | Saturday | Sunday

FRIDAY

Main Stage:
System Of A Down: 9:10pm – 10:50pm
Prophets Of Rage: 7:00pm – 8:10pm
Five Finger Death Punch: 5:30pm – 6:30pm
Mastodon: 4:10pm – 5:00pm
Sabaton: 3:00pm – 3:40pm
Motionless In White: 2:00pm – 2:30pm
Northlane: 1:00pm – 1:30pm

Zippo Encore Stage:
Sum 41: 8:50pm – 10:00pm
Good Charlotte: 7:20pm – 8:20pm
Baroness: 6:00pm – 6:50pm
Suicidal Tendencies: 4:45pm – 5:30pm
Machine Gun Kelly: 3:30pm – 4:15pm
The Raven Age: 2:30pm – 3:00pm
Blackwater Conspiracy: 1:30pm – 2:00pm

The Avalanche Stage:

Sleeping With Sirens: 7:50pm – 8:50pm
State Champs: 6:30pm – 7:10pm
Four Year Strong: 5:20pm – 6:00pm
Issues: 4:25pm – 4:55pm
Code Orange: 3:30pm – 4:00pm
The Devil Wears Prada: 2:40pm – 3:05pm
Astroid Boys: 1:50pm – 2:15pm
M O S E S: 1:00pm – 1:25pm

The Dogtooth Stage:
Exodus: 10:15pm – 10:55pm
The Contortionist: 9:20pm – 9:50pm
Krokodil: 8:30pm – 8:55pm
Lost Society: 7:40pm – 8:05pm
Venom Prison: 6:50pm – 7:15pm
God Damn: 6:00pm – 6:25pm
Red Sun Rising: 5:10pm – 5:35pm
Yonaka: 4:20pm – 4:45pm
Otherkin: 3:30pm – 3:55pm
Holding Absence: 2:40pm – 3:05pm
She Must Burn: 1:55pm – 2:15pm

SATURDAY

Main Stage:
Biffy Clyro: 8:50pm – 10:30pm
A Day To Remember: 6:40pm – 7:50pm
AFI: 5:00pm – 6:00pm
Pierce The Veil: 3:40pm – 4:30pm
Of Mice & Men: 2:25pm – 3:10pm
Sikth: 1:15pm – 1:55pm
Creeper: 12:05pm – 12:45pm
Hacktivist: 11:00am – 11:35am

Zippo Encore Stage:
Rob Zombie: 9:30pm – 10:40pm
Devin Townsend Project: 7:40pm – 8:40pm
Coheed And Cambria: 6:20pm – 7:10pm
Max & Iggor Cavalera Return To Roots: 5:00pm – 5:50pm
Kvelertak: 3:50pm – 4:30pm
Suicide Silence: 2:40pm – 3:20pm
Alestorm: 1:30pm – 2:10pm
Raveneye: 12:30pm – 1:00pm
Tax The Heat: 11:30am – 12:00pm

The Avalanche Stage:
Simple Plan: 8:40pm – 9:40pm
The Story So Far: 7:30pm – 8:10pm
Every Time I Die: 5:50pm – 6:30pm
Crown The Empire: 4:50pm – 5:20pm
Knuckle Puck: 3:50pm – 4:20pm
As It Is: 2:50pm – 3:20pm
The One Hundred: 1:50pm – 2:20pm
Trash Boat: 12:50pm – 1:20pm
Greywind: 11:50am – 12:20pm
Normandie: 11:00am – 11:25am

The Dogtooth Stage:
Wednesday 13: 7:40pm – 8:25pm
I The Mighty: 6:40pm – 7:10pm
Sick Puppies: 5:45pm – 6:15pm
The Lounge Kittens: 4:50pm – 5:20pm
Casey: 4:00pm – 4:25pm
The Lafontaines: 3:10pm – 3:35pm
Idles: 2:20pm – 2:45pm
Junior: 1:30pm – 1:55pm
Blackwaters: 12:40pm – 1:05pm
Drones: 11:50am – 12:15pm
Dead Label: 11:00am – 11:25am

SUNDAY

Main Stage:
Aerosmith: 8:50pm – 10:50pm
Alter Bridge: 6:40pm – 7:50pm
Steel Panther: 5:00pm – 6:00pm
Airbourne: 3:40pm – 4:30pm
In Flames: 2:25pm – 3:10pm
The Cadillac Three: 1:10pm – 1:55pm
Orange Goblin: 12:00pm – 12:40pm
Fozzy: 11:00am – 11:30am

Zippo Encore Stage:

Slayer: 7:35pm – 8:45pm
Opeth: 6:15pm – 7:00pm
Clutch: 5:10pm – 5:50pm
Ministry: 4:05pm – 4:45pm
Anathema: 3:10pm – 3:40pm
Devildriver: 2:15pm – 2:45pm
Red Fang: 1:30pm – 1:50pm
The Dead Daisies: 12:30pm – 12:55pm
Tyler Bryant & The Shakedown: 11:45am – 12:10pm
Broken Witt Rebels: 11:00am – 11:25am

The Avalanche Stage:
The Dillinger Escape Plan: 8:10pm – 9:10pm
Moose Blood: 7:00pm – 7:40pm
Basement: 5:50pm – 6:30pm
The King Blues: 4:50pm – 5:20pm
Touché Amoré: 3:50pm – 4:20pm
Dinosaur Pile-Up: 2:50pm – 3:20pm
Dead!: 1:50pm – 2:20pm
Blood Youth: 12:50pm – 1:20pm
Grove Street Families: 11:50am – 12:20pm
Wallflower: 11:00am – 11:25am

The Dogtooth Stage:
Perturbator: 7:40pm – 8:30pm
Like A Storm: 5:45pm – 6:15pm
Aaron Buchanan & The Cult Classics: 4:50pm – 5:20pm
Devilskin: 4:00pm – 4:25pm
Love Zombies: 3:10pm – 3:35pm
Fizzy Blood: 2:20pm – 2:45pm
The Charm The Fury: 1:30pm – 1:55pm
Stone Broken: 12:40pm – 1:05pm
Brutai: 11:50am – 12:15pm
The Fallen State: 11:00am – 11:25am


Download Festival 2017 takes place at Donington Park from June 9th to 11th.

Tickets can be purchased here.

View more of Already Heard’s coverage from Download Festival 2017 here.

Download Festival links: Official Website|Facebook|Twitter|Instagram|Snapchat|YouTube

Words by Sêan Reid (SR), Dane Wright (DW), Andy Davidson (AD) and Edward Layland (EL).
The Cadillac Three Photo Credit: Joseph Llanes

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