Thirteen Bands You Need to See at… Download Festival

From emo heartbreakers to modern metal superstars, here are thirteen bands we think you need to check out at Download Festival this weekend.



As we now throw ourselves fully into festival season, June sees the return of one of the highlights of the rock calendar, Download Festival. For five days and nights, the hallowed turf of Castle Donington race track sees over 80,000 rock fans party like their lives depend on it.

Across four stages, a line-up that has split opinions across the rock community will see everything from emo heartbreakers to deathcore face-pummellers entertaining fans over the weekend. Download doesn’t just start and finish with the live music as organisers have put on plenty of extra activities to keep fans rocking through the weekend. From video gaming to DJ sets and so much more, there is plenty to keep the masses entertained.

We’re already banging our heads trying to work out how we’re going to fit it all in so, to help you out, we’ve picked thirteen of our own highlights of the weekend who we think should be on your list.

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1. Cemetery Sun (The Avalanche Stage, Sunday)

Hitting Download on Sunday, this alternative pop-rock collective brings a captivating sound that is both familiar and fresh to the table and by all accounts delivers an energetic stage show to back up their sound. If you are a fan of the likes of 30 Seconds to Mars or Twenty-One Pilots, you will find your happy place in the company of Cemetery Sun.

2. Slaughter To Prevail (The Opus Stage, Saturday)

They have a frontman who wrestles a bear. I’ll repeat that… They have a frontman who wrestles a bear. One of the most savage bands on the bill this weekend, masked Russian deathcore troop Slaughter To Prevail will level anything within a two-mile radius so come and watch as their groove-drenched onslaught sends those with a weaker disposition scurrying for cover.

3. Fear Factory (The Dogtooth Stage, Sunday)

It’s been a turbulent few years behind the scenes for Dino Cazares and his LA cyber-metal outfit Fear Factory. That being said, the band are still going strong and, with new frontman Milo Silvestro, the band bring their machine-like assault to the Dogtooth Stage on Sunday evening to wrap up what will be another incredible weekend of music.

4. Hanabie (The Opus Stage, Friday)

What do you get if you combine the cute aesthetic of anime with metalcore? If that is a question you have a burning desire to have answered, you would be doing yourself a disservice by not checking this all-female Japanese quartet out! Looks can indeed be deceiving and as soon as you hear the intensity of the band’s music combined with vocalists, Yukina’s, juxtaposed brutal roar and clean vocals, you will have a drive to uncover hidden gems the Japanese metal scene is hiding.

5. Busted (The Avalanche Stage, Friday)

50% of you laughed when Download organisers announced pop-punk upstarts Busted to the bill for this year while the other 50% simply smiled knowing that the only place to be on Friday evening will be the Avalanche Stage. You might hate everything they stand for but, come Friday night, you’ll be joining the rest of us packed in like sardines for an hour of gloriously ridiculous pop-punk antics with Charlie and co.

6. Avenged Sevenfold (The Apex Stage, Sunday)

The only returning headliner for this year, Avenged Sevenfold knows how to deliver a show that will be full of intense metal, captivating stage production and a light show to cause the most welcome seizure imaginable! The old guard for the new generation, Avenged Sevenfold are the perfect band to close out the weekend.

7. Harper (The Dogtooth Stage, Sunday)

We all know Harper from that America’s Got Talent audition where she blasted through her life-changing rendition of Spiritbox hit “Holy Roller”. The non-metal world may have looked on with derision/morbid curiosity but, within the metal community, Harper has become a huge hit and is certainly going to give a hungover Download one hell of a wake-up on Sunday lunchtime.

8. Pantera (The Apex Stage, Saturday)

If there is one story splitting opinion most in the past eighteen months, it has to be that of the return of Texan groove-metal behemoths Pantera. Fans are split over the “new” Pantera line-up but, let’s be honest, once that riff to “Walk” kicks in on Saturday evening, there isn’t a single fan who won’t be swinging for the pit as the Phil Anselmo fronted crew silence any doubters.

9. Sum 41 (The Apex Stage, Sunday)

It was a sad day when the Canadian pop-punkers announced it was the end of the road for the band, however, it was not a split due to any internal issues within the band, it was just time to let the final curtain fall on Sum 41. Despite this, the band intended to go out with a bang, issuing one final record and a tour to go alongside it to celebrate with fans and have one final knees up.

10. Sullivan King (The Doghouse, Friday)

If you’re still standing at 1.30 am, The Doghouse Stage is where you need to be as producer, guitarist, vocalist Sullivan King not only promises to blow the roof off Download Festival (figuratively speaking) but with his EDM meets deathcore pyrotechnic onslaught, will show exactly why this festival is one of the most diverse and exciting festivals on the circuit.

11. 311 (The Opus Stage, Sunday)

Given that 311 have not been to the UK, or even mainland Europe in over 20 years, it would be a tremendous mistake to miss out on experiencing the vibe of one of the most laidback sounding rock bands to have come out of the ’80s. Given the band’s apparent unwillingness to venture across the pond, you must ask yourself the question, do you really want to wait a further 20 years for a chance to see them again?

12. Limp Bizkit (Apex Stage, Sunday)

Fred Durst and his crew need no introduction and you know that their set will be one of the highlights of the weekend. Their music helped define a new era for heavy music and, try as you might, all you haters out there will still join the rest of us as we lose our collective shit to some of the most bangin’ tunes modern rock has ever heard.

13. Electric Callboy (The Opus Stage, Sunday)

Seeing Electric Callboy live is an experience like no other. The dance-infused metal is genre-defining and the dual vocal talents Kevin Ratajczak and Nico Sallach are a joy to experience. Having delivered a tent-busting show last year, it was clear that Electric Callboy needed a bigger stage to shine. Thankfully Download obliged and with their latest tune, “Ratatata,” with Baby Metal (also performing over the weekend) slaying playlists everywhere, fingers remain crossed that there will be a guest appearance during the show.

Look out for all our coverage from this year’s Download Festival next weekend and keep up to date with all the latest news and updates from the festival through the official website.


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