After what seems like forever (if you’re discounting last year’s Download Pilot), the long wait for the return of Download Festival is merely a couple of days away. We’re already packed and ready for our return to the hallowed turf of Castle Donington for three days of top rock action and are now going through the all-too-stressful job of trying to pick through a packed Clashfinder.

To help navigate the hundred-plus bands ahead of us, we’ve picked who we think should be ten must-see bands for the weekend.

1. Skynd (Opus Stage)

There is nothing better than coming across an act that just grabs you by the throat and demands your attention which is exactly what industrial-goth duo Skynd will do as they tear up the Opus stage during their early afternoon set on Friday. Combining macabre tales of true crime with ear-battering industrial rock, we’re hoping we will still be talking about Skynd’s set as we head home on Sunday evening.

2. Cellar Door Moon Crow (Dogtooth Stage)

We love it when a two-piece turn up and makes the kind of life-affirming noise that Sheffield brothers Cellar Door Moon Crow make. If the name hadn’t already caught your attention, the brothers have been fine-tuning their sound into something that has been tearing up stages across the UK in recent months. So, if your Download weekend is needing a fix of something to kickstart it, this Sheffield pair has everything cranked up to eleven and ready to go.

3. Dirty Honey (Opus Stage)

If it’s bluesy rock n’ roll you want then the highly-rated Dirty Honey should be a band on your radar for the weekend. Kicking off the Opus Stage on Saturday at the ungodly hour of quarter past eleven, the band have already wowed crowds supporting The Black Crowes so should be ready to rock Download ahead of their UK tour supporting Rival Sons. It might be early doors on a Saturday but get here early if you want to witness one of the brightest hopes for rock music before their profile explodes.

4. Dead Posey (Avalanche Stage)

Hailing from Los Angeles, dark rock duo Dead Posey is another band making their Download debut this weekend and you should be very excited about getting to witness this creative cocktail of industrial rock grind and punk rock attitude. Whereas their music might be more suited to a seedy backstreet nightclub than the blazing sunshine of the Avalanche stage, if you’ve fallen under the spell of their Freak Show EP, you’ll know that dragging yourself up from your Saturday night hangover for their set will be well worth it.

5. Will Haven (Dogtooth Stage)

Sacramento alt-metal maulers Will Haven are a band who have flown under the radar for so long it hurts. While their fellow Sacramento scene buddies Deftones are headlining arenas around the world, Will Haven have retained something of a cult status among the metal community. That being said, those who know, know so will be ready for this very welcome UK visit from the Sacramento heavyweights. If you’re still to experience the beauty that is Will Haven, check out their recently released new single and we’ll see you in the pit.

6. Spiritbox (Avalanche Stage)

Every so often a band comes along that just takes the metal scene by storm and this year it is the turn of Canadian Djent Metal crew Spiritbox. Making their long-awaited debut at Download, Courtney LaPlante and the band really deserve a higher slot at the festival given the excitement that is surrounding their appearance but we know that those lucky enough to get a space in the tent for their set will not be disappointed by the band who are being touted as the future of metal.

7. Static Dress (Avalanche Stage)

Having deservedly tasted success at the Heavy Music Awards recently, Leeds hardcore punks Static Dress are primed and ready to kickstart the Avalanche Stage with a bang on Saturday. Impossible to pigeonhole, we’ve already caught the band supporting Knocked Loose recently so, given the excitement that must be running through the band following the recent awards, their set at Download promises to be a visual and sonic treat for everyone.

8. Deftones (Main Stage)

If we’re picking out epic sets for the weekend then you know Sacramento alt-metal titans Deftones will surely be one of them. It’s been a fair while since we’ve crossed paths with Chino and Co but, even in the early evening haze, we know that as soon as the band slam into one of the many classics surely to be included in their Download set, 80,000 people will lose their minds.

9. Orbit Culture (Dogtooth Stage)

Over the years the Swedish metal scene has produced a list of genre-changing bands as long as your arm. Joining that list alongside the melodic death metal of At The Gates to the tech-metal juggernaut that is Messhuggah, comes Orbit Culture who head up the new breed of talent coming out of Sweden with a sound packed with crunching modern metal grooves and throat-ripping vocals.

10. Iron Maiden (Main Stage)

As much as we can’t wait to see the rock circus that is Kiss or the jarring Brit-rock of Biffy Clyro our choice for headliner this weekend has to be the mighty Iron Maiden. If you’ve seen pictures of their stage show or checked out the setlist already, you know that you’re going to be in for a treat. However, with this being their first appearance at Download since their mammoth headline set in 2016, you know that Bruce and the band are going to make sure their return home is an unforgettable one.

For more information and ticket details, head over to the Official Download Website.

Poster for Download Festival 2022

I have an unhealthy obsession with bad horror movies, the song Wanted Dead Or Alive and crap British game shows. I do this not because of the sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll lifestyle it affords me but more because it gives me an excuse to listen to bands that sound like hippos mating.