6 Bands that SHOULD headline Download Festival 2018

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Download Festival 2017 is right around the corner, but we’re already thinking about next year. Not many people know this – I’m actually quite a fan of Donnington’s annual Download Festival. I’m showing my age now, but back in the 80’s when it was Monsters of Rock, I didn’t half make a fool of myself in the mosh pits.

All these modern festivals now tend to be packed with what I feel is utter garbage. What happened to good old rock n’ roll? Thankfully we still have huge acts such as Foo Fighters or Muse to keep the spirit alive. I’ve always been more of a fan of the less mainstream music festivals though, all of which are getting more and more popular as each year goes by. One of the heavier events that most of us know about is Donnington’s Download Festival.

Download 2013, Black Sabbath

Black Sabbath’s DL’12 performance was amazing. (Image: Telegraph)

I’m not exactly down with the kids anymore, but usually it’s quite an impressive array of bands. 2012’s Sunday was definitely one of the best moments in the festival’s history. That Soundgarden set followed by Black Sabbath‘s headline performance – it was phenomenal. However, in recent years I’ve noticed that it seems to be the same bands in rotation that take the headline spot. Sabbath were back again last year. Slipknot have headlined three times in the last 8 years – 2009, 2013 and 2015. These are great bands, but it gets a bit stale and repetitive.

There are many newer bands out there which are getting enough recognition to be worthy of Download’s headline slot. Rather than the same-old every year, here’s a list of bands that we feel could easily take the headline slot for next year’s Download festival, although they’ve never done it before.


Ghost, Download 2018

Ghost’s single “Cirice” won a grammy in 2016 for “Best Metal performance” (Image: BrooklynVegan)

Hailing from Linköping in Sweden, Ghost have been quite the focus subject recently. Since forming 9 years ago in 2008, the real identity of each band member had been kept secret. That was until recently, anyway. It turns out that each incarnation of vocalist Papa Emeritus is musician Tobias Forge, where the “nameless ghouls” have been mostly rotating session musicians the whole time. It has gotten quite messy though, since 4 of these ex-nameless ghouls have taken to suing Forge over some missing payments – including their longest running guitarist Simon Söderberg, who acted as the bands lead guitarist since the beginning.

All that aside, the band’s music is still on top form and their controversial tongue-in-cheek Satanic imagery makes their shows one hell of a performance. Ghost are actually already headlining this year’s Bloodstock Open Air, and this is surely a step on the ladder. With a new album early next year and rising fame, I don’t see why they couldn’t be one of Download 2018’s headline acts.

Queens of the Stone Age

Queens of the stone Age, Download 2018

QOTSA are expected to drop a new album end of this year. (Image: HBTS)

Raw Californian rock n’ roll at its finest. Josh Homme formed Queens of the Stone Age shortly after his old stoner metal act Kyuss dissolved. Since then they’ve become one of today’s better riff-oriented rock bands, verging on quite a metally sound at times. Their most successful hit to date is the 2002 song No-one Knows, and most rock fans will be fairly familiar with it. In recent years QOTSA have toned it down a little bit, but they’re still putting out some quality music and I think it’s time they got the headlining spot.

The band tends to spend more time at the likes of Leeds & Reading or Glastonbury, but they’ve played high up on the bill for Download before – just under Iron Maiden‘s headline slot in 2013. A new album is supposed to be dropping either later this year or early next year – it makes sense to give them that deserving top position.

Royal Blood

Royal Blood, Download 2018

Royal Blood have come far in such a small amount of time. (Image: YouTube)

Brighton duo Royal Blood are quite the fast success story. The band consists only of bassist and vocalist Mike Kerr and drummer Ben Thatcher. That’s it, no guitarists required! Kerr makes use of a combination of guitar amps, bass amps and pedals to produce the sound of about three people through a single bass guitar… oh, and he sings on top of it all. Genius. The pair have only been active since 2013, but it seems that joining Arctic Monkey’s management company did them wonders. Their music has been featured everywhere, most notably their hits Figured You Out and Out of the Black.

Kerr and Thatcher have done very well for themselves in such a short amount of time and have thousands upon thousands of followers around the world. Their highly anticipated second album, How Did We Get So Dark? drops this month and it’s only going to make them even bigger than they already are. I’m not sure it’s quite their style, but they could smash a Download headline slot in 2018 if they wanted to.


Guitarist Brian “Head” Welch (Far left) quit in 2004, but was never replaced and rejoined in 2013. (Image: Live Nation)

There’s no denying Korn‘s influence on the modern metal world. Back when their self titled debut dropped in 1994, they made musical history. Paddy never really got it so much, but in my younger years I gave that cassette quite a rough time in my Walkman. It was dark, intriguing, funky and heavy… yet simple. There wasn’t anything like it at the time. Over the years Korn have evolved their sound, even experimenting with that dubstep trash for a little while. However, their most recent LP The Serenity of Suffering has returned to their roots and their performances are stronger than ever.

Korn are massive worldwide, and a lot of newer bands certainly wouldn’t exist without their influence. They’ve played Download many times over the years but I think it’s time they got the headline slot, instead of just under it. It’s long overdue.


Slayer, Download 2018

Not as energetic as they were, but still tight performers. (Image: Live Nation)

Here’s a band I made a fool of myself to when I was young and dumb. Slayer are iconic, getting to the point where they’re being considered pop culture. I even spotted their logo on clothing in H&M and Primark, which was weird. The thrash titans unfortunately lost their creative genius and guitarist John Hanneman in 2013 to alcoholism, 2 years after he had to go inactive due to a nasty spider bite. Fellow thrash outfit Exodus‘s guitarist Gary Holt has taken the stand since. Slayer’s most recent release Repentless came out in 2015 and was received with a mixed reception. I personally thought it was okay, surviving guitarist Kerry King did okay despite losing his partner in crime.

The band’s near future isn’t very certain, and even though they’re younger than me they still look about 10 years ahead. It’s time to play an immense headlining show while they still can, because they’re clearly not as healthy as they like to admit. It surprises me that this hasn’t already happened to be quite honest.

Stone Sour

Stone Sour, Download 2018

To many fans disgust, guitarist Jim Root (middle) was fired in 2014 simply for wanting to prioritize Slipknot. It didn’t affect his relationship with vocalist Corey Taylor (right) though, who also plays in Slipknot with him. (Image: Live Nation)

Formed in Des Moines, Iowas back in 1992, Stone Sour is the original band of Slipknot‘s vocalist Corey Taylor. When Slipknot gained worldwide fame, Corey decided to bring back his old band-mates, including Slipknot‘s guitarist Jim Root, and set back up his original band. Stone Sour have won 2 Grammies in their lifetime. These inlcude their 2003 single “Get Inside” and 2004 single “Inhale” – both of which included on their self-titled debut album. It must be hard being in two massively successful bands internationally, I have no idea how Corey manages it.

The band are currently building up to the release of their 6th album Hydrograd, which drops this June. They’ve also just announced a European tour which includes some arena dates. Bigger venues means that more and more people are attending. I feel they’re certainly going to be worthy enough for a headline slot at next year’s Download festival.

This year’s Download Festival 2017 starts next week (9th June – 11th June) featuring headliners System of a Down, Biffy Clyro and Aerosmith.

Be sure to stay tuned, as on the Thursday before the weekend commences, I’ll be covering bands that we DON’T want to see headline next year. Just to mix it up a bit!

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The big bad boss at Man Wants. What he says is law around here.

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