Download 2023: Underlined

Our pick of the must-see names below the headliners for Download's mammoth 20th anniversary party

Taking place over four nights for the first time, Donington Park will play host to some of heavy music’s hardest hitters from Thursday 8 to Sunday 11 June. Featuring two headline performances (with no repeats) from Metallica as they celebrate the release of their eleventh studio album, 72 Seasons, most metal fans needed little more convincing to grab their tickets. With headline sets from Bring Me The Horizon and Slipknot sweetening the deal, it’s the only place to be this summer for fans of face-melting riffs and sweat-drenched mosh pits.

As hard rock titans Alter Bridge and Halestorm, hardcore legends Hatebreed, prog favourites Coheed and Cambria and Aussie trailblazers Parkway Drive prepare to take Download’s stages by storm, it’s set to be an unmissable weekend. With over 100 bands announced, it can be hard to know who’s worth tramping the concrete between stages to catch – so let us help you out. Here are ten artists who are set to tear Donington Park apart next month…

Bob Vylan 

Saturday, The Avalanche Stage

Bob Vylan - Wicked & Bad

Known for their raucous live shows and penchant for crowd involvement, Bob Vylan are swiftly becoming the kings of the festival season. A fiercely independent act driven by evolution, they’re on a mission to bridge genres and subcultures with a sound that darts across sonic dimensions. Melding political, personal, and playful songwriting with a rich community spirit, the band’s shows commence with group meditation and conclude with a group hug. With a whole lot of chaos unravelling in between, you don’t want to miss this.

Electric Callboy

Sunday, The Avalanche Stage


When the sun’s out, the drinks are flowing, and all you need are some energy-packed bangers to complete the package, look no further than these German electronicore party starters. Mixing up their own unique blend of modern metalcore doused in positive vibes and nostalgia, they’ve become known for their hysterical songs that can force a smile from even the most austere metal fans. Powered by fun, they don’t take themselves too seriously, so head this way for a whole lot of corny dance moves, pyro blasts, and flailing limbs to round out the festival weekend on a high.

Empire State Bastard 

Friday, The Dogtooth Stage

Empire State Bastard - Harvest [Video]

The words ‘Biffy Clyro side-project’ would likely prick up a few ears in a Download crowd, but the words ‘extreme metal Biffy Clyro side-project with Dave Lombardo on drums’? That’ll do the trick. Formed by frontman Simon Neil and touring guitarist Mike Vennart whilst sat in the back of their tour bus exploring the most sickeningly confrontational music they could find; Empire State Bastard is a grotesque sonic onslaught. Smashing together hardcore, thrash, sludge, and stoner metal influences into an aggressive celebration of heavy music’s past, present, and future, you’ll want to get there early for this one.

Graphic Nature

Sunday, The Dogtooth Stage

Graphic Nature - Killing Floor (Official Music Video)

Nostalgic for the riotous sounds of 90’s nu-metal? Look no further than Kent’s Graphic Nature to liven up your weekend. Bottling up the energy and aggression of nu-metal’s glory days and slotting in electronic accents and hardcore breakdowns, they’re delivering a modernised version of the subgenre we all know and love. Crafting dynamic tunes that explore mental health in unflinching detail, vocalist Harvey Freeman’s frenzied delivery is as manic as it is blisteringly raw, showcased in the band’s viscerally confrontational performances. Head this way for grating industrial guitars, mind-bending grooves, and circle pits galore.

Kid Bookie

Saturday, The Dogtooth Stage

Kid Bookie - Game ft. Corey Taylor

Having collaborated with Slipknot frontman Corey Taylor on not one, not two, but three tracks, this genre-splicing artist is swiftly charging towards the frontlines of metal’s new wave. With a background in the rap and grime scene, Kid Bookie is cooking up a nu-metal/trap-metal blend that’s bubbling with rage and overflowing with attitude, spearheading a violent revolution within heavy music. Seamlessly blending 808s and brutal riffs, his brilliant hybrid sound isn’t likely to be one for the gatekeepers of the metal community, but if you swing by the South Londoners’ set on The Dogtooth stage – you’ll see that he doesn’t care one bit.

Lorna Shore  

Sunday, Apex Stage


With a sound that’s as epic as it is savage, Lorna Shore are deathcore’s hottest ticket right now. Brimming with technical prowess, the New Jersey band have been making serious waves since joining forces with vocalist Will Ramos in 2020, whose expansive range of screams has catapulted them into the limelight. Hailed as the flagbearers of modern deathcore, their embrace of black and symphonic metal influences has seen them morph into an unstoppable juggernaut over the last few years, and you’d better believe the hype – this year’s Download set is sure to be one for the history books. 


Saturday, The Avalanche Stage

nothing,nowhere. - VEN0M (FT. UNDEROATH) [Official Video]

Taking to the stage fresh from the release of his ground-breaking collaborative fifth album, VOID ETERNAL, nothing,nowhere is set to showcase the latest and heaviest incarnation of his ever-evolving sound. Emerging from the underground of the emo rap community and pushing his way to the forefront of the alternative scene, the Vermont artist has become known for his honest storytelling, unwavering ambition, and his warm embrace of the music scenes that made him. With hardcore and nu-metal influences now leaping to the forefront, this year’s Download performance is shaping up to be a lesson in musical catharsis.

Nova Twins 

Friday, Apex Stage

Nova Twins - Antagonist (Official Music Video)

The hellraising, genre-defying project of childhood friends Amy Love and Georgia South, Nova Twins are one of modern rock’s fiercest live acts. Forging their own path with a vibrant sound that merges punk, rap, rock, and metal influences into an unstoppable fireball of energy, after a 2022 that saw work tours, Glastonbury performances, and Mercury and MOBO nods, the duo are bringing their electrifying live shows to Download’s Apex Stage. Expect plenty of guitar theatrics, colourful stage attire, and a near endless mosh pit.

Pupil Slicer 

Friday, The Dogtooth Stage


One of London’s fiercest new bands, Pupil Slicer have been on an uphill trajectory since the release of their debut album, Mirrors, in 2021 – a euphoric slab of death metal wonder. Found somewhere between the unrelenting chaos of Rolo Tomassi and the expansive technicality of Deafheaven, they’re dialling up the brutality in wicked style, tapping into grindcore, hardcore, and ambient influences along the way. Ruthlessly tight and primed for destruction, the energy levels will be high here – time to bring your best spin kicks to the pit.

Soul Glo 

Sunday, The Dogtooth Stage

Soul Glo - "Gold Chain Punk (whogonbeatmyass?)"

Evading all genre restrictions whilst remaining a vital band within hardcore, this Philadelphia quintet have been rising up the ranks of their own scene. An unpredictable ball of passionate, reckless energy, vocalist Pierce Jordan’s frenetic calls for political action ring out over chaotic breakbeats, rap verses, and extreme metal flashes, culminating in a truly unique listening experience. Forging their own path in a white-dominated scene with songs that document the experience of being Black, broke, and depressed in America, Soul Glo will be sparking up a one-of-a-kind sonic riot packed full of twists and turns.

Download festival takes place between 8-11 June, with limited tickets still available here

Credit: Sergione Infuso – Corbis / Getty