A look back on a day which included Metallica headlining a scorching Donington Park on the 10th June 2006.

Look buddy, a lot of people's girlfriends are in there

Down kicked off the day in their own way, appearing unannounced on the main stage at half past 11 in the morning. Phil Anselmo was his usual abrasive self, threatening to fight with people in the crowd, in what was the highlight of an otherwise forgettable performance (perhaps that can be put down to the early time).

Johnny Truant had a couple more songs to play on the second stage as I made my way into the tent. It was the second time I had seen them and I still couldn’t discern any sort of rhythm or tunes inside all of the dirge that was their thumping and screaming. Sorry, I know that they’ve just split up and everyone who wants underground cred says they miss them, but I never understood what the point was.

Next up however was the, never dull, Sikth. The awesome jazz-influenced (maybe?) indefinable-genre metal band put on a set the really get the day going in style. A mixture of tunes from both their first and second albums, with Skies of the Millennium Night particularly hard-hitting, the band captivated and got moshing a large proportion of the crowd, far beyond the Watford crew that they gave a shout out to during the set. A much missed band, and not just in Watford.

Pretty early on in the day it was announced via the big screens that Jonathan Davis wouldn’t be appearing with Korn and they would be having guest vocalists.

War painted, and less than unattractive, Angela Gossow strutted around the main stage during Arch Enemy’s brief set which featured classics such as Dead Bury their Dead and We Will Rise. Short and to the point, and generating a few huge circle pits, the performance (even though they didn’t have Chris Amott on guitar) was better than their headline set at the Kentish Town Forum eighteen months previously, in my opinion.

Flying the flag for Sveden during Arch Enemy

Alice in Chains followed, in what was a big UK audience’s (and possibly any UK audience’s, I’m not sure) first look at William DuVall on vocals. No one could replace Layne Stayley very easily, but DuVall did a sound job, and three years later, we are hearing him on recordings with the band for the first time. It was great seeing the grunge legends live, something I had never expected to happen, although the only downside was that they played all their biggest tunes first and so the set sort of petered out rather than going out with a bang.

Following both Stone Sour and the England football team (on a big screen) boring everyone, a delay, and a round of big screen boob flashes, Avenged Sevenfold came onto the stage trying to suck up to everyone present by wearing customised England football shirts and tore into Unholy Confessions immediately. A solid performance from the band by all accounts, although it was still weird hearing the aforementioned and Remenissions sung during the screaming parts as M Shadows’ vocal-style change was a relatively recent phenomenon at this point. It was also surprising, and quite fun, to hear them play To End the Rapture.

Opeth tore into their set on the second stage with aplomb and no little quality, although something told me that Korn with guest vocalists had the potential to be legendary, so I have to admit that I left the enthralling set for the main stage a couple of songs in. I only caught the last three songs, but I hadn’t counted on Korn with guest vocalists sounding like dodgy karaoke rather than being a cool set, so I completely wasted my journey. It was obviously unrehearsed and at short notice, but neither Corey Taylor nor Matt Heafy really improved the band.

Next up was the mighty Metallica. Now, I know that some people don’t see the point in a band playing through an entire album in a live set, thinking that they might as well have stayed at home and listened to that album rather than going out to see the band, but I seriously doubt anyone who witnessed the 25th anniversary of Master of Puppets set could have felt that way that night. It was an epic two and a half hour set which included tonnes of material from other albums before and after the Masters of Puppets bit, which really couldn’t disappoint anyone. The atmosphere built up hugely beforehand with the video intro seguing brilliantly into Creeping Death, and continued throughout, including during the early drop of Unforgiven, the director not realising that there was a bass solo during Orion and frantically changing shot to see which guitar the sound was coming from, right through to second encore closer Seek and Destroy. Truly an awesome set; no one headlines a festival better than Metallica, they were a great finish to a great day of Download 2006.

Kirk solos away

Were you at Download 2006? Do you agree with my thoughts on the day? Let me know via commenting below.

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