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6 Bands that SHOULD NOT headline Download Festival 2018
7th June 2017

All 3 headliners for Download 2018 have been announced, as I’m sure you know, and we can now take pride in the fact that all our choices in this article were in fact NOT headliners! Thanks for reading anyway and stay tuned later next year as we shall no doubt be making our DL2019 predictions!

I’ve already covered 6 bands that I feel should headline Donnington’s annual Download Festival. All 6 of these acts have never done it before despite their huge success, which was why I especially chose them. However, it’s time for a U-Turn.

Donnington kicked off this year with the almighty trio of System of a Down, Biffy Clyro and Aerosmith taking the headline positions. Biffy Clyro headlining for the first time was certainly an achievement for the Scottish trio, and was also a breath of fresh air.

As you may already know from last time, I’m getting bored of the same old headliners coming back and forth every other year or two. Not to say that I dislike any of the following bands, I just think they need to take more time out and play other festivals instead. Having said that, I’ve still included what you could say is just me rambling and being an old fart. Here goes.



Image: Team Rock

Slipknot are probably one of the biggest names in modern heavy metal. Even though I’ve slightly “grown out” of the screaming and shouting side of music, it still gives me pleasure to watch these almost-older-timers still nail it. Formed in 1995 in Des Moines, Iowa, the band went under several line up changes until they settled on a solid 9 piece.

Unfortunately, bassist and primary song writer, Paul Gray, passed away in 2010 shattering the band’s confidence. It only got worse, as in 2013 drummer Joey Jordison was fired from the band but it was later revealed he had been diagnosed with MS. The band has managed to move on since though, with the very young Jay Weinburg taking up drums and old roadie Alessandro “V-Man” Ventuerlla (Or just Alex) filling in for the late bassist. 2014 saw the band’s fifth album, .5: The Gray Chapter, follow a very thrash and death metal type of sound, as well as a nod towards their earlier nu metal days.

So you may be wondering, why don’t I want a band I clearly follow to not headline such a great festival? It’s simply because within the space of 6 years, they’ve done so 3 times. In 2009, 2013 and 2015. Each time was absolutely splendid, but it gets a bit samey. The band have only just started reworking their set-lists in recent years so they’re not too repetitive. Give it a bit of time, and we’ll be more than ready for them to come back and dominate Donnington once again.

Def Leppard

Def Leppard

Image: Agiteur

Any regular Download goer knows exactly why Def Leppard made it on to this list. They were the first headlining act to receive backlash for returning to the festival so early. Def Leppard were formed back in 1977 in Sheffield, UK and are recognized for their one armed drummer, Rick Allen. Unfortunately for Allen, back in ’84, he lost his arm in a car accident when trying to overtake at high speed. He lost control of his vehicle – smashing into a stone wall and then entering a field. He was then thrown out of the vehicle, severing his left arm.

Allen thought his career behind the kit was over, but the rest of the band encouraged him to try and continue. 33 years on from the accident, and he still plays with them to this day. With a modified drum kit to suit his one armed play style, Allen can still successfully play the band’s entire catalog without fail. Def Leppard have released 11 albums to date, with their most recent being their 2015 self-titled album.

Why do I not think they should fill the bill? It’s not that I don’t think they could, or should. I personally just feel that newer acts need the chance to establish themselves. These guys have headlined twice in a 2 year period. Don’t get me wrong they’re great, but they haven’t exactly been a favourite to the Download crowd.

Iron Maiden

Iron Maiden

Image: Planet Rock

Iron Maiden? Am I serious? Why would I put them on this list? Hear me out. A bit of brief history first, though. Iron Maiden are one of the biggest heavy metal acts to exist, still going strong even to this day as they did in the 80’s. Formed 1975 in London by bassist and key songwriter, Steve Harris, the band has released a whopping 16 albums throughout their career so far. Their most recent, The Book of Souls, saw its release in 2015 and was received with a massively positive reception and dominating the rock charts.

Although Harris is the only remaining original member, the band’s lineup is exceptionally strong. The power of three guitars backed by a strong bassist really adds to their live shows, as well as Nicko McBrain’s epic beats and Bruce Dickinson‘s powerful vocals. If you’re not a fan yet, you’re really missing out. So, now back to the real question. Why shouldn’t they headline?

It’s a similar situation to Def Leppard. Two appearances in the space of 3 years. Having them back on again just after their 2016 appearance and previous 2013 appearance will put them in the same boat as Slipknot. They’ll be back for sure, and so they should, but please – not yet.

Here’s the part where I just get mean.

Linkin Park

Linkin Park

Image: Gigwise

Since this article was written, we’ve unfortunately lost Linkin Park’s frontman, Chester Bennington. In no way do we at Man Wants mean any disrespect with what we’ve said here. We have our difference of opinions but there’s no denying that Chester was a phenomenal front-man and his work with LP was ALWAYS top form. You will be sorely missed by many. Rest in Peace. 

Oh dear. It’s okay to like this band, if you’re about 12-years-old. Californian “rock” band, Linkin Park, were formed in 1996 and saw their massive breakthrough success in 2000. Their debut album, Hybrid Theory, is loaded with the bands greatest hits such as “Crawling” and “In The End” and was a massive staple for the nu-metal kid crowd of the time. LP have headlined Download twice before, once in 2011 and then again in 2014, where in the latter they played their debut in its entirety.

Seriously though, they know full well what the fans want. More rap metal junk. So what do they do instead? They make a pop album. Yes. Pop. Their new album, One More Light, was released last month and it’s quite simply and purely, a pop album. It’s majority written by outside parties known to write the songs of other pop “musicians”. 

Bullet For My Valentine

Bullet For My Valentine

Image: NME

Bullet For My Valentine are a welsh metal act that think they’re as rough as Metallica. Unfortunately for them, they’re actually as whiny as early-days My Chemical Romance. Initially formed under the name Jeff Killed John in 1998, the 4-piece tried to fit in to the at-the-time nu metal trend. When that failed they did what they claim was “more their type of thing”. This resulted in their debut album, The Poison, which dropped in 2005. The album met a reasonable amount of success, and saw them headlining some fairly substantial academy sized venues.

Since then, the band have tried to evolve their sound through the years. However, they’ve instead created what I can only describe as an utter mess. Their second effort, Scream Aim Fire, dropped in 2008 but there was blatant Metallica copying going on. For example, the resemblance of their song “Say Goodnight” to Metallica‘s “One” was just too noticeable. It didn’t get much better in 2010, as the band’s third album, Fever, then saw the band ripping off their own earlier material. Talk about rinse and repeat. It doesn’t end there either. Their 2013 release, Temper Temper, was written in the whopping length of 2 whole weeks. The quality of this time scale was obvious, and after that I’d given up on them.

These taffs are expected to drop a new album again shortly. Unless they can actually produce something that is worth listening to, then they’re clearly not ready to be considered as headliner material.

Bring Me The Horizon

Bring Me The Horizon

Image: Billboard

Bring Me The Horizon were formed back in 2004 in Sheffield, UK, by then 16-year-old vocalist Oliver Sykes. Their debut album, Count Your Blessings saw its release quite soon after in 2006. This album follows what is considered a “deathcore” style. For those of you who don’t know, that’s just simplified death metal played by teenage-boys in skinny jeans and make-up…

Over the years BMTH have gained a considerate amount of success, and I’m not going to lie, they’ve worked hard through the hate and they’ve earned it. although, Mr Sykes had quite the snotty and bratty attitude in the past, with a blatantly obvious focus on his hair cut and horrible dress sense, rather than the actual music. The band have released 5 albums over their career so far, but their most recent album, 2015’s That’s The Spirit, sees a slight Linkin Park in action. It’s essentially pop.

Why do bands do this? There’s a strong possibility that these guys could headline the festival at some point. However, I’m not sure it would be that great an idea. Past controversies have gained the band a lot of “haters”, and it could be ill-received. Their music isn’t exactly that ground breaking either. Maybe give it a few years yet.

Do you agree with me? Good. Do you disagree with me? That’s fine! I want to know who you would and wouldn’t like to see headlining Download at any point at all. Leave a comment below, message us, whatever takes your fancy.

Remember these lists are just my opinions at the end of the day. Don’t cry.


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