FESTIVAL FEATURE: Ones To Watch At Download Festival

It’s just a matter of days before thousands of rock and metal fans descend upon Donington Park for the 16th edition of Download Festival. With so many great bands on the line-up who do you choose to watch? Here are our top picks for the weekend…


Boston Manor
Main Stage 13:00 – 13:30

The pop punk/emo explosion has been super kind to these British lads, who have gone from strength to strength in just a few short years. They’ll be playing Download for the first time in 2018, where they’ve been given the honour of opening up the main stage on the very first day. You’ll catch us up there bright and early, singing our hearts out to track from their debut album Be Nothing and dancing away from the first row.

Employed To Serve
The Avalanche Stage 13:50 – 14:15

Releasing their sophomore album The Warmth Of A Dying Sun to critical acclaim last year, Employed To Serve have become one of the most talked about bands in hardcore. Expect a set of mosh pits, walls of death and pure mayhem as the quartet make their debut at the festival, particularly during the likes of I Spend My Days Wishing Them Away which opens with one of the best riffs of 2017. If you love a bit of nasty hardcore (as the band describe themselves), then Employed To Serve will set you up nicely for the day. Very nicely indeed.

Nothing More
Zippo Encore Stage 14:40 – 15:10

It was Download Festival 2014 that we first witnessed Nothing More‘s live show and we haven’t looked back since. Over the past four years the rock outfit have climbed up the ranks and 2018 sees them appear on the Zippo Encore stage. We don’t want to give too much away, but the band think outside the box when it comes to their performance and we can’t wait to see it transform on a bigger stage. We’re crossing our fingers that the classic This Is The Time (Ballast) and the more recent Don’t Stop make it onto the set-list, but either way one thing’s for sure: Nothing More will blow your mind this weekend.

Main Stage 16:05 – 16:50

The phrase “back with a vengeance” may seem overused, but there seems a band no more deserving of the cliche than Yorkshire’s Marmozets. It’s ironic, really, when they’re anything but (cliche, that is) – yet here they are ready to inject their unique but heavy riffs right into the action of Friday’s main stage. The closely-knit five-piece have been building momentum since their last Download appearance in 2014, with some time out from performing in the interim seeming to have done them no damage at all. If this year’s Knowing What You Know Now is anything to go by, the complexity, the ferocity and most importantly the brilliance is still there. If you’ve yet to see front woman Becca Macintyre unleash her wild talents among her band of equally talented brothers (and friends), you’re in for a real treat.

Cancer Bats
The Avalanche Stage 17:20 – 18:00

If there’s one band who is going to bring the party to Download Festival, it’s the motherfucking Cancer Bats. The Canadian four-piece surprised us earlier this year with the release of their album The Spark That Moves and brought their chaotic show to intimate venues across the UK, warming up nicely for their appearance on The Avalanche Stage. With a whole lot of back catalogue to play with, including their iconic cover of Beastie Boys hit Sabotage, Cancer Bats are guaranteed to be a highlight of the weekend.


Sleep Token
The Dog Tooth Stage 14:20 – 14:45

There’s one question that’s been on the lips of many within the alternative scene as of late: who are Sleep Token? Nobody is sure. There have been rumours floating about left, right and centre, but one thing we do know is that they make some of the most captivating music we have ever heard. Combining elements of Leprous, Bon Iver, Agent Fresco and Meshuggah, the faceless beings have been turning heads all over the place; and Download Festival will only be their seventh show as a collective. Witness Sleep Token this weekend and worship Him.

Zippo Encore Stage 16:45 – 17:30

Kawaii metal? Um, yes please, sign us up. Not only do this Japanese band definitely belong in the metal scene, we just wish they had been around longer. It’s been eight years since they formed, and we’ve been hooked since their self-titled came out in 2014. Singing, screaming and style are just three of the things to expect this weekend from your Saturday night. Forget the critics – Babymetal embody creativity and fun at its finest, and there’s no shame in that.

Mayday Parade
The Avalanche Stage 19:20 – 20:00

Mayday Parade are one of those bands who’ve managed to prove their staying power time and time again. One of the many darlings of the mid 2000’s “scene”, these Florida faves aren’t going anywhere – so we’re pleased to know that we’ll be exactly where they’ll be this coming Saturday night. With the hotly anticipated release of their sixth studio album Sunnyland next week, this is the perfect opportunity to psych their audience up and display some of that famed longevity. It’s been a long time since the MySpace days but this performance is sure to cast us back to simpler and infinitely more emo times.


Dream State
The Avalanche Stage 11:00 – 11:15

Wales is the birthplace of many of our favourite rock bands, and one of the latest is Dream State. It’s easy to see why the quartet have been turning heads over the last 12 months, their brand of hard-hitting yet catchy rock has had both us and plenty of other people hooked. Dream State have just released their new EP Recovery, so we expect a lot of new material to be aired during their set on The Avalanche Stage. Bring your best singing voice and we’ll see you down the front!

Sun Arcana
The Dog Tooth Stage 11:55 – 12:20

It may be Sunday, it may be early, you may be a tad hungover, but you know what will make you feel a whole lot better? Catching Sun Arcana on The Dog Tooth stage. The alt-rockers signed to Easy Life Records and released their debut EP As I Take A Breath… earlier this year so expect to hear some of the emotive and powerful tracks from the record during their set. The band have already garnered support from BBC Radio 1, BBC Introducing, Kerrang! Radio, Rock Sound, Alternative Press and MTV Rocks, a really impressive feat for a band so early into their career – we’ll see you there nice and early!

In This Moment
Main Stage 14:25 – 15:10

Returning to Download for the first time since 2013, this California alternative metal group are a force to be reckoned with. Their 2017 record Ritual reflects the band’s progressive journey into the realms of new-found maturity. Start your Sunday off the right way with this heavy, edgy and empowering stuff.

Zippo Encore Stage 18:10 – 18:55

Grab this opportunity to catch Alexisonfire again while you can – nothing with this band is ever guaranteed. However, it’s impossible to dislike them anyway (right?), so while their general future may be unpredictable their performances won’t be. It’s been a long time since the Canadian five-piece have graced our shore and and we reckon that puts us way overdue for a mass singalong. The nostalgia element alone makes them one of the perfect bands to help you round off your Sunday night.

Written by: Claire Louise Sheridan and Hannah Gillicker 

A 20-something year old journalist and freelance PR often found at a gig, a festival or holding a dictophone to a band and asking them all kinds of questions. I'm a sucker for whiskey and vinyl.