Download 2013 – review

Donington Park, Castle Donington

Download has witnessed plenty of momentous headlining performances over the years, but it is hard to imagine this year's triple-headed monster of bombast and bravado will ever be topped. Headlining for the second time, Slipknot deliver a vicious but emotional set on Friday night. The UK was the first place to passionately embrace the Iowans, and there is something genuinely moving about the tangible bond between band and fans as the damp night air resounds to the merciless clatter of Duality and Spit It Out.

Iron Maiden can always be relied upon to pull out all available stops, but arranging for the RAF to fly a Spitfire low over the main stage just before their set began is an audacious move by anyone's standards. A quarter of a century after headlining at Donington for the first time, they send a rabid crowd into raptures with renditions of their greatest 80s hits, while an upgraded version of 1988's endearingly preposterous stage set ensures their mastery of the big occasion is maintained.

With more than 150 bands across five stages, Download speaks volumes about the depth and diversity of the rock and metal scenes in 2013. Pleasingly, some of the weekend's unexpected thrills come from the subversive outer limits of rock and metal, not least Hacktivist, whose bullish melding of syncopated mutant metal and rapid-fire grime vocals causes a minor riot on Sunday afternoon. Similarly, Anglo-French eccentrics the Algorithm prove that heavy metal fans are happy to embrace new ideas with a noisily lauded display of off-kilter electronica and metallic aggression.

However, few of those present would dispute that Sunday belongs to Rammstein, who bring Download to a deliciously demented close by attempting to blow up the main stage, and everyone in the vicinity, with insane quantities of pyrotechnics. Musically myopic they may be, but in terms of gung-ho entertainment, they remain unassailable.

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Dom Lawson

The GuardianTramp

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