Download 2023: Day 4 – as it happened

The Hu, Soul Glo and more tee up Slipknot for Download's fourth and final day

It’s the final day of Download 2023 and fair play, we’ve all surprised ourselves. Push through the feeling of ‘I can’t go on’ that inevitably creeps in at some point over the weekend and you’ll find delirious joy.

It’s what the festival’s all about, and a special thanks needs to be put out there for the security and staff who enabled us to do that safely. It’s a fine balance between allowing metal’s extreme style of expression to breathe while making sure we’re all safe and responsible, and they all nailed it with a smile on their face.

Here’s what went down on day four of Download 2023.

Graphic Nature

The name of British nu-metal hotshots Graphic Nature reads like an advisory caution, and their set today on the Dogtooth Stage proves that the product is certainly not for the faint-hearted. Tracks such as ‘Into The Dark’ are apocalyptic and explosive, reminiscent of an early Slipknot. Vocalist Harvey Freeman is eager to promote this space’s importance for men’s mental health in particular, and it becomes clear that beyond the theatrics historically attached to this genre, it holds an intense purging power.

The Hu

The spectacle of The Hu’s proud Mongolian heritage with their traditional instruments and deep throat singing always makes them good value at a festival, but more than that these guys know how to groove. Slow, bluesy heaves give their set a fun journeying feel, doubled by what sounds like horse samples – though it could be the squeal of one of their stringed instruments.

Soul Glo

Soul Glo’s screamer-rapper Pierce Jordan takes a leaf out of Jason Aalon Butler’s book as he starts to climb the railings of the Dogtooth Stage, but the sound tech is having none of it and cuts the music. Safety first, even at a metal festival. He’s not too phased though. In fact he seems pretty deadpan in general, but their buzzy hardcore sound is delivered fast and thrashy anyway.

Parkway Drive

If there were any contestants here to headline future Downloads, my money is on Parkway Drive. They’ve been around for two decades and their hits today reflect that (though there was a notable lack of material dating pre-2015), and they’re leaning into the theatrics too, with their flaming torch opening. More than anything, their sound neatly ties together a lot of the different aspects of metal available this weekend with a melodic, accessible thread. Case in point is ‘The Void’, one of the performances of the whole festival.


I knew Ghost’s Sunday evening set was going to be popular, but this is something else. At least half of the festival must be here, a sea of endless bodies covering the Opus area. Practically, I guess the festival organisers needed more time to set up Slipknot’s headline production, but many in the press area wonder if they’re making a point. Ghost to top the Apex in 2024? I’m sure they’d deserve it, but honestly I can’t see a thing, so it’s time for a bit of Hatebreed and some katsu bites instead.


“You might want to finish that sharpish mate,” a benevolent maggot advises as I look down at a fresh beer in the minutes leading up to the final headline slot of the weekend. “That’ll be all over you in five minutes. First Slipknot gig?” Is it that obvious? I heed her advice and mayhem follows as pockets of pits open up all around the field like sores on opener ‘The Blister Exists’. They disperse and reemerge organically all evening, but are summoned by Corey Taylor’s skeletal roar for ‘The Heretic Anthem’.

Obviously the band’s faces aren’t visible, so it’s up to Taylor to express his gratitude, and there are hearty cheers when he reminds us that founding member Shawn Crahan, AKA Clown, is back in the band. Their set is relentless force and it shoots by, and before long it’s the instant pull of ‘Duality’ for an encore. But as Taylor unites his maggot faithful (and new recruits such as myself), it’s the get-down-now-jump-up of ‘Spit It Out’ that leaves Donington Park trembling. Read our full Slipknot review here.

Earlybird tickets for Download 2024 are on sale now here.