Photo Credit: Caitlin Mogridge
Part of the magic of festivals like Download is the fact that the scope is there to wander around Donington and stumble upon performances and bands you either may not have ordinarily checked out and ending up having a new favourite band. Both the third and fourth stages have proved to be the perfect stomping ground for this kind of activity over the years with a huge array of acts starting out there and ultimately ending up proudly stepping out on to the Main Stage just a few years later. The line-up at Download Festival 2018 is huge. From top to bottom each day is absolutely stacked and we've found it difficult to just come up with a selection for you to go and check out, but without any further ado we've broken down the three days across the third and fourth stages and given you our picks on who to go see!
Tickets for Download Festival are on sale NOW with the event taking place across 8th-10th June. Head over to https://downloadfestival.co.uk/tickets/ or click on the banners on the side of this page to make your purchases. Please make sure you go via the offical ticket outlets when making your purchase. There's not long now, go get one!
Friday 8th June
Bad Religion - Avalanche Stage
Where better to start then with a group of undeniable Punk legends. Formed in 1980, Bad Religion's influence on the scene has frankly been massive over the years and there have been a lot of bands who have played at Download who owe a lot to the Californian rockers. Despite having a few band member departures in recent years, reports from their current tour suggest that Bad Religion are absolutely on top of their game and will no doubt be bringing with them a set-list with wall to wall crowd favourites. The band are currently celebrating the 30th anniversary of their classic Suffer so it is safe to expect a lot of focus on that when they hit the stage come Friday night at Download.
Cancer Bats - Avalanche Stage
Following the surprise release of their latest record The Spark That Moves just last month, Cancer Bats are seriously back with a bang and for one of the most consistent live bands around today to have that kind of fire behind them can only only be a good thing. It's easy to forget that this is now a band who have six records to cherry pick from when deciding on their set-lists so there's a good chance you'll hear your favourite Cancer Bats song during the course of their set! It will be the first opportunity for many to check out how some of the new numbers will fit in to proceedings as well, with the strength of the likes of Gatekeeper and Space & Time we're expecting it will be seamless. The tent is going to be absolutely rammed for this lot so we recommend getting yourself down there early.
Employed To Serve - Avalanche Stage
By far and away one of the most exciting young bands in all of heavy music, Employed To Serve have been taking huge strides towards the big time since arguably the finest record of 2017 was released in The Warmth Of A Dying Sun. Despite apparently being on quite early Friday afternoon the tent for this will be absolutely jammed because whilst they might well sound exciting on record, live they're a completely different beast. Constantly growing, constantly sounding absolutely crushing, Employed To Serve have just announced a run of shows in the months following Download where they'll be playing last year's record in full so it's fair to expect a large chunk of their set-list at Download to be the same. We don't feel we're going far enough when we say that on this stage across the whole weekend, you might not see a better performance. We cannot wait.
Napalm Death - Dogtooth Stage
An incredibly welcome late addition to the Download Festival line-up, the extreme legends that are Napalm Death will be doing their very best to lay waste to the Dogtooth Stage on Friday evening. Ferociously intense at all times, Barney and co. might even rival Guns N' Roses for amount of tracks played through despite having less than half the time to do it. The last time we seen Napalm Death live was at last month's Desertfest where they absolutely bludgeoned through a set-list containing tracks from across their back catalogue. Wildly popular, the reaction to their late addition was understandably very positive so we're sure this will be another busy place to be on Friday evening!
Tesseract - Dogtooth Stage
Immediately following Napalm Death in what is in a very interesting one-two considering the different dynamics are the Friday night Dogtooth headliners Tesseract. The last time Tesseract were at Download they played a truly excellent set on the second stage but through giving them a headlining slot in a far more intimate setting the booking team have played a very smart card in looking to deliver something even more special. The band are currently riding high off of the widespread critical acclaim for their latest record Sonder which was released in February so we're expecting a fair few newer numbers in the set. It's actually the band's shortest record culminating in a far more compact beast than you might have expected from them but this only serves as better news to pack in more tracks in a festival set. Powerfully heavy and wonderfully atmospheric, Tesseract are absolute masters of their craft.
Rolo Tomassi - Avalanche Stage
A real highlight for us on the Saturday over on the Avalanche Stage are the absolutely mesmeric Rolo Tomassi. Stick one of their records on - you hear that intensity? Ok, multiply that tenfold and add in a dose of carnage and you've got a Rolo Tomassi live show. Taking a page out of Dillinger's book, this is a band who do NOT fuck around when it comes to live performances so it is always exciting to check them out and see what they're bringing to the fold. Another band who are riding very high off of the level of support that has come their way since the release of their latest record Time Will Die And Love Will Bury, expect to be walking out of the Avalanche Stage when this lot are finished with a "holy shit" stare planted on your face.
Being As An Ocean - Avalanche Stage
Immediately following Rolo Tomassi on the same stage are a the very popular Californian Post-Hardcore unit Being As An Ocean. Now operating independently, their record Waiting For Morning To Come released last year has only helped cement the size of their core fan base as well as helping it to continually grow. Over the years at Download this sub-genre within heavy music has proven to be wildly popular so we don't expect too many giving this one a miss.
Thy Art Is Murder - Dogtooth Stage
Since CJ McMahon's return to the fold after a temporary period of time away from music, it has lit a rejuvenating fire under Thy Art Is Murder unlike what they've ever seen before. Holy War was incredible when released in 2015 but when Dear Desolation dropped last year it triggered a very exciting spark which the band have carried with them on to this latest tour. It is a bit of a consistent theme with us so far on this preview to choose bands who elevate their level of intensity and power on the live stage compared to on record and Thy Art Is Murder absolutely fit within that bracket. Headlining the fourth stage on Saturday night, this one is going to be absolute bedlam from start to finish.
Malevolence - Dogtooth Stage
Speaking of bedlam, we're hoping you're packing your hard hat with you if you are planning to get down to the Dogtooth stage for Malevolence come Saturday afternoon. Undeniably one of the most consistent and impressive Hardcore units on the scene at the moment, this Sheffield based five-piece absolutely bring the pain with every single live performance. Their latest record Self Supremacy released last year is a staggeringly heavy and often over-looked album which quite rightly ranked very high in a lot of the album of the year lists for 2017. This lot have got riffs that drop harder than Iron Man flying full pelt in to your face.
The Hives - Avalanche Stage
Talk about closing out a festival with some unbelievable good time vibes. After a period of time not quite on the forefront as much as they were in the early 2000s, The Hives have suddenly started exploding back on to festival line-ups all over the place. It is absolutely testament to their quality as a band that they could headline a stage at Download Festival one week and play some sort of Indie fest a week or so later. Wall to wall to wall to wall bangers - this will serve as the perfect alternative setting for those looking to boogy away in to the night to close out their Download Festival 2018.
Less Than Jake - Avalanche Stage
Immediately preceding The Hives that evening are another band who will be seriously bringing some party vibes to the final day of Download Festival. Truly one of the ultimate American Punk units to birth out of the 1990s, Less Than Jake have a hall of fame worthy back catalogue which will trigger some of the biggest sing-along moments all weekend this year at Donington. Whoever booked Less Than Jake in to The Hives to close out this stage on Sunday night deserves a medal.
Puppy - Avalanche Stage
Another truly exciting act on the rise within heavy music at the moment, Puppy's popularity feels to be growing with every single show they play and are again good enough to be able to cross divides and attract fans of varying tastes. We're absolutely positive that in a year or so Puppy will be taking a slot on one of the two big stages and it'll be sets like this one at Download 2018 which will prove to be one of the huge stepping stones towards that. Their ability to hugely call back to 1990s style acts like The Smashing Pumpkins whilst also serving up something that feels fresh and new makes them a very exciting prospect indeed. You don't want to miss this set.
Baroness - Dogtooth Stage
Much like with Tesseract, the last time Baroness graced the stage at Donington was on the second stage where they damn near stole the weekend. An unbelievably powerful force live, we cannot wait to see what they'll bring to their Sunday night headlining slot on the Dogtooth stage this year. Atmospherically this band sound so gigantic live we're glad no one has been tasked with the impossibly difficult feat of having to follow them because we're happy to stick our necks out right now and say there might not be a better live performance on this stage all weekend. It's been a fair amount of time now since we were treated to the excellent Purple record and members in the band have confirmed that they are currently working on some new material so fingers crossed we're treated to some of that at Download as well.
Zeal & Ardor - Dogtooth Stage
Ok so we've already stuck our neck out with that statement about Baroness, but Zeal & Ardor will not be very far behind. An unbelievable amalgamation of Atmospheric Death Metal, Blues and Soul, Zeal & Ardor are easily one of the most exciting acts on the line-up. The last time we reviewed this band followed their sensational show at The Underworld in Camden last year - a show which ranked amongst one of the finest live moments of 2017 in our books. Uniquely impressive - this is more than worth checking out.
As noted then, Download Festival continually provides a fantastic opportunity to discover your new favourite band. Whilst these are our picks from across the third and fourth stages this year, there is so much going on so make sure you get down to these tents as much as you can! Tickets for Download Festival are on sale NOW. Head over to https://downloadfestival.co.uk/tickets/ or click on the banners on the side of this page to make your purchases. Please make sure you go via the offical ticket outlets when making your purchase. There's not long now, go get one!
Photo Credit: Caitlin Mogridge