All photography and content © John Raptis Photography 2020

Download Festival 2018

With the inaugural Download Festival finally upon us, the weather gods were not kind to the plethora of Melbourne Metal fans heading to the festival. It threatened to be an absolute blow out of Noah’s ark proportions but by noon the ponchos were being put away and sun-screen was well in order.

In typical Melbourne fashion, the weather changed suddenly and for the most part, we had a relatively dry day. Go figure!

The downpour that greeted punters that arrived at the Melbourne Showgrounds venue was of monumental proportions. By the time I had gathered my credentials and moved into the pit to photograph Northland, I was drenched from head to toe. The camera was also collecting an unhealthy amount of water so I was worried (very worried!) that my gear would not last the day!

First band off the rank for mine, was Northlane. Can’t say I really dig ’em to be honest but having missed out on shooting Clowns who I really wanted to see but could not get to due to the traffic getting to the event – I settled for Northlane.


As if by miracle, by the time they had finished their set, the rains had all but stopped and looking at the clouds above – it looked like it was clearing and the deluge we had been threatened with did not rear its head for the rest of the day! You little ripper!

Next on my list was Psycroptic – a band I had been meaning to see for the longest of times. They impressed! Thoroughly impressed and left me both speechless and blown away at the sheer ferocity and power dripping from the stage! They were damn impressive I can assure you!


The next quadrant of bands on the two main stages was a Festival highlight. Seeing Sabaton, Amon Amarth, Gojira and Mastodon back to back to back was a real freaking treat. Again, I had photographed each one of those bands on multiple occasions. (Sabaton twice, Amon Amarth four times, Gojira four times, Mastodon five times!)

Ammon Amarth

I thought Sabaton played a pretty subdued set. I don’t really get that Euro Power Metal. In fact, I think its all a little silly but hey, the crowd seems to really dig it and Sabaton, so more power to all who enjoy that sort of Metal,


As stated, I have seen Gojira on numerous occasions. They always seem to be opening for Mastodon on their Aussie jaunts over the last several years. Now Mastodon rank as one of my fave bands (big fan!) but each and every time Gojira play before them, they freaking wipe the floor with them! That can’t be easy to do but they do it. Time and time again. I was telling some of my photographer friends who hadn’t experienced Gojira before that they were about to see some class. Sure enough, I was not wrong. Some left the pit saying Gojira were the best band of the day. Myself included.



After that quartet of some classic international Metal in front of the big stages, it was time to get acquainted with the might of Suicidal Tendencies. A band I had not photographed before! Yay! But seriously, who is gonna miss out on shooting a band that features the might of Dave Lombardo on drums hey?

Suicidal Tendencies

It seemed as if the entire day was whizzing past at the speed of light. Before you knew it, dusk was settling in nicely and there were only a handful of bands left on the agenda.

There was no chance in hell I was going to miss out on King Parrot’s set, so when it cam time to choosing between them and Limp Bizkit – well, the choice was fuckn easy wasn’t it? Actually, choosing between Limp Bizkit and ANY other band on the planet is a very, very easy choice!

Theoretically, I could have shot both acts, but I left the likes of Bizkit to my partner photographer on the day and gave him all blessings I could muster so that he could shoot them.

Limp Bizkit… gimme a fuckn break!

Ok, let’s get on to the Parrot hey? Just as their set is about to begin, main man Matt Young and bassist Slatts are already shirtless and sporting maniacal grins. Download, prepare to be pummelled.

And pummelled Download were!

King Parrot

Wrapping up this incredible day were Prophets Of Rage and Korn. Korn are never a surprise packet for yours truly as I am a keen fan but Prophets Of Rage thoroughly impressed. In all actuality, they blew me away.

Tom Morello would have to rank as one of the most amazing guitarists I have ever seen. Generously hamming it up for the photographers and generating sounds out of his guitar that were a total utter mindfuck! I came away from shooting them with an incredible grin from ear to ear. They were amazing. Simply fuckn amazing!

Prophets Of Rage

Korn wrapped things up nicely. They always do. I shot them twice in a week back in the Soundwave days and as stated, they rank as one of my fave bands and the only legitimately decent thing to come out of the Nu Metal movement. They have long surpassed that ludicrous genre and remain a global heavyweight across the concert circuit. Fantastic getting reacquainted with them again!


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