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Nine reasons Download Festival is an absolute must

After making its mark with a stunning debut in late March 2018, Download Festival has returned for a second year to Flemington Racecourse with an even bigger lineup. Although we’ll sadly not be seeing the Prince of Darkness on this run (wishing Ozzy a speedy recovery), there is still more than enough to occupy yourself with at this year’s Download. Let Beat be your guide to the must-sees and must-dos this coming Monday.

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The metal veterans

With Ozzy out of the picture, the end of the night belongs to two of the most influential, entertaining heavy metal bands of all time, Judas Priest and Slayer. The former are powering back Down Under with a brand-new album in their arsenal, plus all the classics for good measure. The latter, meanwhile, are headlining on a bittersweet note; This will mark Slayer’s last-ever shows in Australia, as the thrash-metal kings undertake their final world tour. Whether you’re breaking the law or spending seasons in the abyss, both are unmissable.

One shot, one opportunity

Download have scored a slew of massive names to perform at the festival this year, and if you happen to be a fan then there’s a handful who you won’t be able to see live in any other place. The politically-charged Rise Against, the skate-punk legends Pennywise and hard rockers Halestorm are just some of the bands that will only be playing Download while in Australia this week. If you didn’t have enough incentive to head along previously, it’s almost certain one of Download’s exclusive bands will seal the deal.

The Aussie (not Ozzy) contingent

Sure, there’s boundless plains to share for those who’ve come across the seas, but don’t count out any of the top national artists that are part of Download. Take Melbourne’s own Outright, for instance, who have been tearing up stages for nearly a decade with their revolutionary politics and chugging guitars. Throw in Tassie legends Luca Brasi, veteran miscreants Frenzal Rhomb and mane-thrashing heavy heroes High Tension, and you’ve got a row of talent that could go toe-to-toe and pound-for-pound with any of the international heavyweights.

FEVER 333 make their first voyage

Two years ago, letlive. was abruptly called to an end. Its leader, Jason Aalon Butler, soon revealed that he had teamed up with two friends – The Chariot’s Stephen Harrison and Night Verses’ Aric Improta – to form an all-new band. FEVER 333 has all the ferocity and intensity of letlive., only this time it’s with the volume cranked to 11 and a hell-bent political conviction to its message. Download will mark the band’s maiden voyage to Australia. As far as live shows go, theirs is the one to beat.

Feast your eyes on Download’s feast

Never ones to do things by halves, Download have called upon some of the top chefs around to bring you Hell’s Kitchen. Whatever you’re looking to grab a bite of between bands, the crew will have you covered. Curated by Jake and Kenny from Sydney’s Mary’s, there will be burgers, chicken and wine as far as the eye can see. If that wasn’t enough, there will also be plenty of trusted vendors peddling their wares all across the festival, from Taco Truck to the brilliantly-titled Ryan Gozleme. Let’s eat.

The early bird catches the worm

It’s easy to slide into the festival sometime later in the afternoon after everything has already kicked off proper, but where’s the fun in that? If you really want to get your money’s worth, get there as soon as the gates open and make a point of checking out some of the bands playing early in the day. Highlights from the timetable include the keytar-wielding West Australians, Voyager – who are celebrating 20 years as a band in 2019 – and the outspoken, uplifting, incendiary Baltimore punks, War On Women.

A full day of sing-alongs

From Frenzal’s ‘Never Had So Much Fun’ right up to “do-doo-doo”-ing along to Slayer’s iconic ‘Raining Blood’, you’ll have next to no time to rest your voice across the entire day. There’s the real simple ones – Pennywise giving you an elongated “woah” for ‘Bro Hymn’ – and then there’s the slightly trickier, like the rap verses of Sum 41’s ‘Fat Lip’. Whatever your poison, you’re guaranteed a damn good time as you and 30,000 of your closest mates join your favourite band on backing vocals.

The chaos of Code Orange

Arguably the heaviest band on the bill, Code Orange make a relentless brand of metallic hardcore that is designed for absolute spin-kicking chaos. They are a full-body experience when they perform, and no matter where you’re standing you’re going to get involved. Riding high off the back of their killer 2017 album Forever, the five-piece are not coming to Download to make friends. They’re expecting movement, and plenty of it. If you’re looking for the hardest, toughest music of the day, make sure you’re at the Avalanche Stage at 4.30pm.

The inter-generational crossover

Gen X? Gen Y? Raised on metal? Turned out a punk? None of that matters. You’re spoken for at Download. You’re present and accounted for. You’ve got plenty to get you through an awesome day of music – both with your old faithfuls, and maybe a dash of new blood that you wouldn’t have endeavoured to check out normally. To all races, genders and creeds with a taste for the alternative; For ten hours on Labour Day 2019, Flemington Racecourse is your playground. Go be with your people.

Download Festival goes down at Sydney's Parramatta Park on Saturday March 9 and Melbourne's Flemington Racecourse on Monday March 11.