It has been a chaotic few years for Anthrax. We’ve seen a reformation of the Among The Living line-up, Dan Nelson’s ill fated stint as vocalist, John Bush fronting the band for a few shows and Joey Belladonna back once again with the New Yorkers… to a mixed response. Brand Anthrax has taken a kicking.

But there are signs the five-piece might be back on course. 2011’s Worship Music album was one of them and this slot, on Download’s main stage, another.

For Donington witnessed a confident, energetic and assured performance from Anthrax and Belladonna in particular, a show which saw the singer- resplendent in his Native American headdress –  high fiving with fans during Indians, despite the best efforts of a couple of security staff who mistook him for an interloper! 

It’s a shame though that Belladonna’s voice is steeped in trad metal, as live, the band’s more mature, Bush-era material is cast aside. It leaves a gaping hole where the likes of Safe Home should be, with only songs from Worship Music (in this set’s case, Fight ‘Em ‘Til You Can’t) there to plug the gap.

But when you have arch-chugger Scott Ian bounding around the stage to Caught In A Mosh, Antisocial and I Am The Law, you can’t help raise a smile… and the quintet delivered a thrash masterclass which truly lit up Download’s Sunday festivities.

There’s good reason why Anthrax were tagged in thrash metal’s ‘Big Four’ all those years ago and it’s pleasing to see the band may be rediscovering their mojo at long last.

An autumn UK tour with Motorhead is on the horizon and on this evidence it will be worth waiting for.

Richard Holmes