Download Sydney roars to life
It was a slightly overcast start to the day as the legions of Slayer and Ghost made their way through the Sydney streets dressed in black with the occasional roar from fans bouncing off the financial buildings.
Honestly, one of the most enjoyable parts of going to Download is the way the clothes turn to black as you get closer and closer to the festival venue.
With the unfortunate news that Ozzy had pulled out due to ill health most punters had reorganised their timetables and there was still plenty on offer.
About half way through the day it became apparent that there were four main stages not just too.
Yes, Avalanche and Dogtooth stages are smaller, but the bands themselves were so fearsome and profoundly good it quickly became apparent that to ignore these stages was to do so at one's own peril.
Case in point were two of the best acts I have ever seen.
I'll talk about The Fever 333 first.
There had been some hype about this band before the festival especially with the ex-Letlive Jason Aslon's prior reputation as a wildman on stage.
I always take these rumours with a grain of salt, but as I walked to the stage to the sound of a stirring backing track I knew the political message was going to be uncompromising.
It reminded the audience that the horror's we are capable of humanity is left to sleep in a self-indulgent cocoon.
All the while a lone figure stood still with a black hood over its head.
This was not a gimmick.
There is something supremely uncomfortable about this. Something genuine. A call to arms.
There were echoes of Rage Against The Machine, a band that is needed more than ever in our present world.
The hair on the back of my neck stood up.
And with little warning The Fever 333 exploded on stage in the most violent and brutal assault I have ever seen.
It was a cry of utter frustration at humanity's failure to improve on itself but it was done without an agenda or a sense of self-importance, and with a massive undertow of positive activism.
Between throwing oneself around the stage to smashing the mic through the floor tom, or the drummer literally backflipping on stage it was the most empowering performance of the day, second only to another politically charged band.
Baltimore co-ed band War on Women mean business.
While the guitar and drums are catchy as all hell, it is the lyrics that are so captivating and empowering.
The confrontational tone and aggression of the vocals mixed with the topics of rape culture, street harassment, transphobia and gender wage gap all the while placed in a live context means it is as much a call to action as it is a commentary on society.
In that sense it is inspiring - these things are a horrible part of our society but speaking out and promoting change together makes it feel a lot less insurmountable.
The message is so clear, so strong and so needed that it smashes the point home with an acute clarity and finesse that defies the brutal aural assault underneath it.
I implore Download Melbourne fans to go and watch this band and heed their message.
There is someone else who has heeded the message and that is Download Festival themselves.
Congratulations has to go out to the organisers for ensuring one of the strongest female led band selections I have ever seen at a music festival - including bands like New Years Day and Halestorm.
Why is this important? Well the reality is that fans were loving every second of it and this shows there is actually very little gender preference when it actually comes down to the wire and who audiences choose to support.
More importantly, as The Fever 333 said there is no place for disrespecting women and male chauvinism in the pit anymore.
And the more we give these bands a stable base to perform from the more their notoriety will prove they can draw the crowds and keep them happy.
A perfect case in point was High Tension who followed War on Women.
High Tension are taking the metal scene by storm especially with their latest album and this was my first opportunity to see them having missed them at last year's Download.
The lead singer struck an intimidating pose - her poise and resolute focus coming off her in waves.
I wasn't sure what to expect but I was pleasantly surprised to see the unbridled death/black metal infused vocals melt the face of any audience member.
The entire band invoked such darkness and pathos that they could easily give Behemoth a run for the money.
Speaking of which Behemoth is a must see.
Nergal and his fellow band mates have perfected the art of the dark arts calling on the audience to use common sense and critical evaluation and question our societies and churches and hailing the occult.
Hardly anyone afterwards could mention the festival without mentioning having made an effort to see Behemoth.
It must be said the clarity of Behemoth's sound live and in an open-air environment really amplifies their music to breathtaking scales.
Australian acts Airbourne and The Amity Affliction, while on different ends of the metal spectrum, offered fantastically entertaining and satisfying performances.
Airbourne adding a much needed down to earth, fun loving, aussie battler, pure rock'n roll vibes which fans lapped up.
Of course Slayer and Ghost were just simply outstanding, while Anthrax had the most enthusiastic crowd if we rule out the sheer intimidating aggression of the Slayer pit.
A warning for punters at Melbourne - be careful of being in the front barrier of Slayer.
Not 10 seconds into the act, the heat and movement was off the richter charts and people were being asked to be lifted over the barrier.
So make sure you are hydrated and with friends who can help shield the impact.
A second tip is to get earplugs for Ghost. Their sound is beautifully impeccable but is very loud, especially the bass and pyrotechnic explosion.
Well worth getting some ear protection if you are at the front barrier so you can enjoy the full set.
A big surprise for me was Sum 41.
While I have never really been a fan, I did notice that their stage presence and banter was second to none and their passionate fans really created a fun vibe.
If you are looking for a fun break from the heaviness of Slayer then Sum 41 definitely offers that choice.
Judas Priest completely lived up to their reputation with the NWOBHM really adding a dynamic edge to the day.
Rob Halford was an impeccable and captivating front man.
There is so much more to write but we will leave that for the recap of Download Melbourne.
But without a doubt fans should get to the festival early on Monday to enjoy a stunning day of music.