The Download Dirty Dozen – twelve bands to check out at Donington this year

Would you believe it, it’s festival season again. Always mind boggling at how quickly a year passes, we are just one week away from Download Festival opening its doors to the Donington faithful once again and nine days until the first bands start taking to the stages. But who to see? What’s hot and what’s not at present? Well, as ever, PlanetMosh will be there to oversee the carnage and the shenanigans and have picked a full Dirty Dozen of acts to check out over the weekend.

In line with previous years, there will be four bands per day, one per stage, and the emphasis is on bands lower down the bill who you might have not considered checking out – in short, if their actual band logo appears on the official poster, they’re not getting a mention here.

The Lemmy Stage

Friday – Alien Ant Farm
There might be the likes of Killswitch Engage and Babymetal above them, but if there was ever a band to kick off the biggest rock party in the UK, it’s Alien Ant Farm. Sure, they’ll forever be remembered for that Michael Jackson cover, but for thirty minutes they’ll bring bounce, energy and a huge nostalgia trip for those who remembered buying ANThology back in 2001.
Time: 2:00 – 2:30pm

Saturday – Beartooth
Well, what can we say about Beartooth that hasn’t been said already? A band very much on the rise and one PM championed after last year’s Download when we stumbled into the tent they were playing and witnessed utter bedlam. Now playing in the open air, expect more of the same on a grander scale when Beartooth bring their hardcore stomp on Saturday afternoon.
Time: 12:05 – 12:45pm

Sunday – Amon Amarth
Let’s get one thing straight – Vikings are cool. They always have been, they always will be. Amon Amarth certainly are. Full of gusto, big riffs and a storming new album in Jomsviking means the Swedish metallers will be strong contenders for band of the festival. Plus, they’ll probably bring their longship and take us all back to Valhalla with them. Horns up!
Time: 12:00 – 12:40pm

The Encore Stage

Friday – Glassjaw
One of the most influential bands of the post-hardcore genre and known for their intense live shows, Glassjaw are certain to whip up a storm on Friday evening as the sun (hopefully) starts setting over the horizon. Despite no new album news still (fourteen years since 2002’s Worship and Tribute and counting…) the band are constantly performing new material and their devoted fanbase should make for a massive set.
Time: 6:15 – 7:00pm

Saturday – Architects
If you only check out one band you’ve not heard of/seen before over the weekend, it has to be Architects. A whirling fury of riffs, breakdowns and enough punch to make Cesaro’s Uppercut Train seem like a gentle breeze, they’re now at the heady heights of headlining Brixton Academy and new album All Our Gods Have Abandoned Us is simply breathtaking. It’ll be a miracle if there’s an Encore stage left once they’ve finished.
Time: 6:05 – 6:45pm

Sunday – Breaking Benjamin
When Breaking Benjamin were announced, the internet melted. Due to frontman Benjamin Burley’s extreme fear of flying, the band had never toured outside of the USA and Canada until last Friday when they played London’s KOKO (appropriately travelling by ferry). Download therefore will be their debut UK festival show, and their huge following garnered over the last 17 years will make this a Download set to remember. Just no-one mention the Sunday headliner’s preferred mode of transport…
Time: 4:00 – 4:40pm

The Maverick Stage

Friday – Puppy
These guys sound nothing like you’ve ever heard before. There are riffs to satisfy fans of classic metal, but there are also elements of grunge and psychedelia involved. In fact, there’s about ten different bands that you can identify elements from, and yet Puppy sound totally unique. You know that moment in The Lion King when Simba ‘roars’ and it’s actually Mufasa? Yeah, Puppy are producing said roar on their own.
Time: 1:50 – 2:15pm

Saturday – Black Peaks
It’s nothing but up for Black Peaks. After well-received sets at Reading and Leeds last year, with debut album Statues gaining significant acclaim and with the backing of big industry moguls to make tidal waves in 2016, they will inject a huge amount of post-hardcore energy into your early Saturday afternoon.
Time: 12:45 – 1:15pm

Sunday – Gojira
You could pick a number of bands on this stage on Sunday, from the ethereal Ghost to the America power of Tremonti and the raw spite of Frank Carter and the Rattlensakes. But French juggernauts Gojira bring a serious amount of ohh-la-larrrrrrrrrgh both in sound and performance and are undeniably loved on these shores by thousands. Expect songs from upcoming album Magma and your head to be wrenched from your neck from all the headbanging. You’ll even forget some oiks called Disturbed are playing on the Lemmy stage at the same time.
Time: 5:20 – 6:00pm

The Dogtooth Stage

Friday – Counting Days
Formed by members of TRC, Heights, Last Witness and Rough Hands, Counting Days are growing from strength to strength and are happily at home in front of both hardcore and metal fans alike. Their debut album Liberated Days is an absolute firecracker and they’ll certainly bring the noise to your evening on the Dogtooth stage.
Time: 6:00 – 6:25pm

Saturday – Milk Teeth
They might bear the name of a body part that eventually falls out, but there is no chance of Milk Teeth growing wobbly any time soon. Bags of potential and a fiercely loyal fanbase already, the punk upstarts from Bristol have been tearing venues apart on the back of debut album Vile Child and will continue to do so throughout 2016.
Time: 3:10 – 3:35pm

Sunday – The King Is Blind
Another supergroup, this one comprised of former Cradle of Filth, Extreme Noise Terror and Entwined. Like their former outfits, The King is Blind produce a blend of death and doom with an added chunk of black metal just for good measure. Leaving a trail of fire in their wake as they go, the band also released their debut album this year (the brutal Our Father) and have also got an appearance at Bloodstock lined up later on in the year. If you like things a little more extreme, then The King is Blind are definite eye-openers.
Time: 1:30 – 1:55pm

Download Festival takes place from 10th-12th June and will feature headline performances from Rammstein, Black Sabbath and Iron Maiden, with a whole host of other names taking part. For tickets and further info, visit

About Elliot Leaver

PlanetMosh's resident Iron Maiden fanboy and Mr. Babymetal. Also appreciates the music of Pink Floyd, Rammstein, Nightwish, Avenged Sevenfold, Slipknot and many others. Writing to continue to enjoy life away from the stresses of full-time employment.