Saturday 12th June - Ronnie James Dio Stage

Most would agree that parents are not known for sharing a taste in bands with their offspring. Upon hearing the changes in sound, style and volume that are offered by new artists, each generation seems to become more and more confused by the musical preferences of the next. Young fans of avant-garde metallers Rolo Tomassi will almost certainly confirm that their mums and dads are utterly baffled - if not horrified - by the music of the Sheffield-based group. However, despite noisy first impressions, reviews in the mainstream indie press, for the albums ‘Hysterics’ and this year’s ‘Cosmology’, have suggested that there is more to Rolo Tomassi than meets the eye. Of course, Download is the perfect venue for the band to bring their new album to the masses.

Playing on the second-biggest of the two outdoor stages at this year’s festival, it is easy to recognise the rising popularity of the group. Despite being only the third band of the day, Rolo Tomassi have managed to pull a fairly respectable crowd to the Ronnie James Dio Stage. Watching young lead singer Eva Spence walk on, newcomers to the band’s music must be initially shocked by her vocal style. From the moment they start playing, she bursts into a powerfully fierce guttural scream that continues through every song during the Saturday afternoon set. She breaks from this style only for the occasional bit of real singing during a few tracks, where she displays more of her genuine talent as a skilled vocalist.

Musically, Rolo Tomassi are all over the place - in a good way. The front rows manage to make a pretty good attempt at moshing, although at times they are not sure how to head-bang along with the complex rhythms being played. Much like Dillinger Escape Plan and Mike Patton’s bands Mr Bungle and Fantomas, the five-piece play a very technical style that sounds like a jazz band who have consumed way too much caffeine and are trying to play instruments that have been set up for a metal group. The keyboard elements from Eva’s brother James, who also carries out some of the vocal duties, add a certain level of harmony to the chaos.

In terms of live performance, Rolo Tomassi are a lively bunch. The band carelessly throw themselves around the stage, making it a danger zone for any roadie brave enough to leave his safe haven at the side. On several occasions, the man in question is almost knocked flying as a member of the group jumps into his path.

Apart from the odd “thank you”, Rolo Tomassi keep the onstage banter to a minimum. At one point though, Eva offers some sympathy to those members of the Donington audience that share her struggle with hay fever which, she announces, is a proving to be “a bitch”.

This was a pretty impressive performance from a pretty impressive and relatively new band, who will no doubt follow this festival set with some more exciting appearances later this summer. Anyone with a keen ear for experimental music should listen out now. But don’t play it to your mum.