Guitar Interactive Magazine toggle menu


Download Festival 2018 Review

Issue #58

"The Devil’s Bleeding Crown" absolutely shook Donnington to the core as apart of another standout set on the main stage from Volbeat. The Download veterans didn't put a foot wrong in this set and even brought out Napalm Death's Barney Greenway for his guest vocal spot on Evelyn.
Jonathan Graham

Guitar Interactive at Download Festival 2018

The finest acts in hard rock and metal descended to the hallowed grounds of Donington Park, Leicester across the weekend for the 16th annual Download Festival. As well as the 100,000 fans in attendance, the Guitar Interactive team were once again on site to capture all the action and backstage interviews from across the weekend's amazing live event.

For a record 16 years, the Download festival has been enticing fans the world over to Donington Park and this year was no exception with once again an absolutely stellar line-up that included headliners, Avenged Sevenfold, the Prince Of Darkness himself Ozzy Osbourne, and making their triumphant return to the festival (with the addition of Slash and Duff McKagen), Guns N’ Roses.

Of course, a great festival is far from just it's main stage headline acts, and Download 2018 delivered hard in that regard with Friday's stacked lineup including You Me At Six, who delivered a stunning second stage headline performance to a packed out crowd.  Opening their set with "Room To Breathe", the Surrey quintet held the crowd in the palm of their hands with tracks off 'Night People', 'Cavalier Youth', and their new single "Fast Forward," with fans belting out every last word.

Dragonforce provided a strong showing despite a set plagued with sound issues. The metal veterans which include frontman Marc Hudson and virtuoso guitarist Herman Li sure know how to work a crowd, and the mass sing-a-long during "Through the Fire and Flames" was truly a thing to behold for those lucky enough to be in attendance.

"The Devil’s Bleeding Crown" absolutely shook Donnington to the core as apart of another standout set on the main stage from Volbeat. The Download veterans didn't put a foot wrong in this set and even brought out Napalm Death's Barney Greenway for his guest vocal spot on Evelyn.

Bullet For My Valentine proved once again just what they are capable of producing, as they roared through rock-club anthems "Tears Don’t Fall," "Scream Aim Fire" and new hit "Letting You Go" from their new release ‘Gravity.’ Bullet finished their set with a bombastic "Waking the Demon" with Matt Tuck shouting to fans, "Who knows, we might be headlining this place in 2-3 years’ time!” If the response of the new album is anything to go by, that dream could very well become a reality. 

Other big winners of the day included Andrew WK who brought the party in his signature style. Punk Legends Bad Religion gave a punk masterclass, and tech metal darlings, Tesseract headlined the Dogtooth Stage with one of the biggest crowds Download's 3rd stage has ever seen.

Avenged Sevenfold looked to make a huge statement with this year's headline performance.  With a massive production and a two hour set delving into their extensive back catalogue with hits ‘City Of Evil’, the number one selling ‘Hail To The King’ and latest surprise album ‘The Stage,' the Californian hard-rock outfit performed a phenomenal set that proved they truly belong in the upper echelon of world-dominating bands. The band took some time to honour their former drummer James “The Rev” Sullivan, `as well as recently lost friends Chester Bennington and Chris Cornell with the unmistakable voice of M. Shadows complimented by the flawless execution of Synyster Gates and the rest of the band, made this long-standing group fully deserving of the Friday headliner spot.

Saturday morning eased in with an excellent showing from the Von Hertzen Brothers on the Zippo Encore Stage. Their psychedelic-infused classic rock complimented the sunrays perfectly, especially during the renditions of "Flowers and Rust" and "New Day Rising."

The dual guitar team of Woody Weatherman and Pepper Keenan of Corrosion of Conformity provided a masterclass in stoner metal goodness on the main stage. Heads were seriously nodding throughout the band's relatively short set with highlights including the classic "Clean My Wounds," and an immensely tasty improvised jam that hit around the halfway point in the show.

Comprising of members of The Chariot, Night Verses and Letlive, The Fever 333's UK festival debut was arguably the most hyped set of Download 2018 and boy did they deliver, putting on an incendiary live show. The three-piece bashed through a thunderous "Made an America," an uplifting "Hunting Season" and an intense "We’re Coming In," with each member bringing their own unique sense of showmanship to the table. They lived up to the hype and then some.

Off the back of their latest release 'Family Tree,' Black Stone Cherry made a welcomed return to Download with a powerful performance that was easily a contender for the best of the weekend. Kentucky's finest gave the crowd a little bit of everything from their back catalogue including "Tired of the Rain," "Blame It On The Boom Boom," "Lonely Train" and even a couple of covers from the likes of The Wailers and Jimi Hendrix. A commanding performance and one not likely to be forgotten by the band or those in attendance.

Parkway Drive's headlining performance on the Zippo Encore Stage was a serious statement of intent and one which likely cements their place amongst the metal elite. The Aussie crew kept the energy high and the breakdowns gargantuan as frontman Winston McCall‘s delivered a solid vocal performance that kept the crowd hooked with euphoric effect throughout a jaw-dropping pyrotechnic filled setlist.

Not even the most of optimistic fans could have imaged that the classic era Guns N' Roses would ever be back up on stage together even for one show nevermind a world tour and a festival headlining spot in the UK, but amazingly that day came. Kicking in with "It’s So Easy" followed by "Mr Brownstone," it was business as usual for the music icons, as it seemed like they had just picked up from where they left off playing these grounds 30 years previous. Highlights included "Nightrain," 'Paradise City" and of course "November Rain."

With the sun shining throughout the weekend and the atmosphere electric, it was time for the last full day of music from this year’s festival. Not only did the day meet the weighty expectations set by the previous two, but it arguably exceeded it, with an incredible lineup of old school heavy hitters and some new faces to the festival.

Fitting the latter description perfectly was Greta Van Fleet, who gave the audience 25 glorious minutes on Sunday morning from the festival's Zippo Encore stage. Their heavy blues-rock setlist including "Highway Tune," "Black Smoke Rising" and the set closer "Safari Song," won them over a whole host of new fans. They seem well on tier way to the main stage in the coming years.


An outdoor setting isn’t necessarily the best way to catch a dark, brooding band like Cradle of Filth, but nevertheless, the metal veterans once again put on a solid showing. Dani Filth and co continue to be one of the most entertaining acts in extreme metal, bringing their sense of theatre that is brimming with evocative instrumental passages and of course the hellish, piercing vocals for which they’re perhaps most well-known.

Incredibly, German thrash legends, Kreator graced the Download Festival for the first time this year, but it was indeed worth the wait. Millie Petrozza’s savage vocals sound as powerful as ever, with the riffs he and Sami Yli-Sirniö bombarded the audience with sounding equally as stunning. With a show filled with songs such as, "Hordes Of Chaos," "Enemy Of God" and "Phantom Antichrist" plus some pyro thrown in for good measure, it was a real thrash metal spectacle.


Shinedown has been steadily climbing the ranks for a few years now, and this performance showed just how far the band has come. Fresh off the back of their support slot on Iron Maiden's last run of shows, they have now found their way to the main stage at this year’s Download Festival two spots below the headliner. With an energetic and charismatic showcase, Shinedown comfortably proved to the massive crowd why they deserved this place on the bill. Opening with "Sound of Madness," the bar was set high, and they managed to keep it up throughout, delivering an outstanding performance, musically on point and poignant.

Even though there has been no new music since their return, Alexisonfire was once again greeted with open arms by the Download audience. Opening with the mighty "Young Cardinals," the band spent the next three-quarters of an hour reminding us just why they are one of the best and most respected live bands around, blitzing through "Boiled Frogs" and sending the crowd into raptures with fan favourite "This Could Be Anywhere In the World."

Marilyn Manson's set proved he still has plenty bite and snarl to give, from "This Is the New Shit" and his covers of "Sweet Dreams" to "The Beautiful People" and a surprise encore of "Cry Little Sister," the Antichrist Superstar has had a return to form that will hopefully long continue.


Closing this epic weekend of metal madness was none other than the Prince of Darkness himself, Ozzy Osbourne. After Black Sabbath's final appearance at the festival just two years ago, it was now time for Ozzy to follow in those footsteps. The iconic frontman bought the house down with an incredible set including, "Mr Crowley," "Crazy Train," "Shot in the Dark," "Bark at the Moon," just to name a few. Joined once again by legendary guitarist Zakk Wylde, the heavy metal icon left the crowd feeling nostalgic with the inclusion of some Sabbath hits, such as "Paranoid," "War Pigs" and "Fairies Wear Boots." The energy was high both on stage and off, and was a truly special send-off. However, if Ozzy's last announcement of retirement was anything to go by, then I highly doubt this is the last we see of the 69-year-old on stage, and I hope I'm right.

And so we have it, the Download Festival is over for another year. However, tickets are already on sale for next year's epic event which will take place on 14th, 15th and 16th June 2019. Here at Gi, we’re already counting down the days!



GI 88 Coverv3.png

Issue #75

Peter Green / Ivar Bjørnson

Out Now

Read the Mag