Download Festival 2023 / If only Thursdays could always be this good

Castle Donington is absolutely jam-packed. But only in the best of ways. Download 2023 kicks things off with no less than the fury of a Saturday evening on the last night of the apocalypse. Mammoth WVH attires his main stage performance with some seriously cracking guitarmanship.

Mammoth WVH

Mammoth WVH - Download '20 - 2023.
Download ’20 – 2023. Photo: John Hayhurst/MetalTalk

Playing songs from his debut album, Wolfgang Van Halen is an unstoppable force with the wind in his air and ferocity between his fingers. And with the temperature rising, it’s not only onstage where things are heating up.

Mammoth WVH - Download '20 - 2023.
Download ’20 – 2023. Photo: John Hayhurst/MetalTalk

Though it kills me, I’ve gotta chuck off the leather jacket and slap on the suncream. On my route up to see The Bronx on the Opus stage, I pass Vikings, gothic queens and one man in quite a large wedding dress. But hey, if you can’t do it at Download, where can you?

The Bronx

Before Download, I’d never seen or listened to much of The Bronx, but already they’re one of my “take ’em home and listen to ’em religiously” bands from the festival. For some reason, with this extra day of music mayhem, I was expecting a slightly calmer atmosphere across Thursday.

The Bronx - Download '20 - 2023.
The Bronx – Download ’20 – 2023. Photo: The Bronx

But The Bronx has set the stakes high in terms of both charisma, energy and rock ‘n’ roll wrath. No more complaints about the parking on anyone’s mind, that’s for sure.


Jinjer smashed it on the Apex with an ever-growing audience cheering on the Ukrainian natives with support and one very provocative but well-said banner flashing up on the live stream screens. Tatiana Shmayluk is a one-of-a-kind powerhouse vocalist, and I’d definitely recommend seeing them live if you aren’t currently one of the many moshing in the pit.

Jinjer - Download '20 - 2023.
Download ’20 – 2023. Photo: John Hayhurst/MetalTalk

An addition to Downloads previous years are six extra live streaming screens scanning the main stage area, giving us full access to the acts from any angle. This only adds to Jinjer’s thunderous steel and anchors their performance. Some crazy good rhythm section duality there too. There’s something about a double kick drum partnered with thunderingly good galloping baselines that just makes your teeth sink. It’s been a couple of years since the Metalcore group released their last album, Wallflowers, so I’d expect to see a follow-up soon.


Closing into the crowning headline set of the evening, we get Halestorm in a too-short-of-a performance with some astounding vocals from Metal royalty Lzzy Hale.

Halestorm - Download '20 - 2023.
Download ’20 – 2023. Photo: John Hayhurst/MetalTalk

The band have been on an astounding rise in a league of their own in recent years, with their show today being the epitome of Heavy Metal music greatness. The band take their 40-minute set like one of their own, with Arejay Hale even nabbing a drum solo close to the end, all stick throws and grunge-mouthed attitude to a more than welcoming crowd.

Hitting every note with absolute needle-to-pin dexterity, Halestorm manages to rouse the crowd with blistering ease, the sun beating down almost as hard as their music.

If only Thursdays could always be this good.

Download '20 - 2023.
Download ’20 – 2023. Photo: John Hayhurst/MetalTalk

Take Part: Are you at Download this year? Who are you looking forward to see? Want to get in touch and tell us how it’s going? Email MetalTalk Editor Steve Ritchie to tell us how it’s going for you.

MetalTalk Download 2023 coverage can be found at

Download 2023 will see the festival celebrate its 20th anniversary with an additional day, meaning four days of live music in total. Download Festival 2023 was a record breaking year.

This year’s MetalTalk team is:

Monty Sewell

Paul Monkhouse

Photography by John Hayhurst – SnapAGig

For Download 2022, visit

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