Download 2019 Festival Preview

By Gem Rogers

One of the first major festival weekends of the year, and a mecca for the alternative and metal community, Download Festival continues to pull out all the stops to bring us a packed line-up – and with Def Leppard, Slipknot, and Tool topping a huge and varied collection of some of our favourite bands, it looks like 2019 is no exception.

More than 100,000 music fans will be flocking to the Midlands for this year’s edition to (hopefully) enjoy some sun and (almost definitely) brave a bit of rain as we mosh our cares away. We’re not saying we’re pessimists, but let’s just say we’ve got our wellies ready…

We’re now only a few days out from one of our favourite weekends, and to help get you as excited as we are, here’s our top picks of bands you definitely shouldn’t be missing this year!



Avalanche Stage, 1.30pm

If you’re wondering which of the bands on this year’s lineup is likely to be the one you’ll be hearing plenty from over the next year, GroundCulture are almost certainly it. Their debut self-titled EP shows huge promise in the form of crushing riffs, surging energy, and elevating vocals, making them the perfect start to the weekend for heavy music fans. The Newcastle five-piece signed to Hopeless Records last year after touring the UK with Crossfaith, and with new music on the way, this is the set that will let you say “I was there at the beginning!” in years to come.


Dogtooth Stage, 4pm

Doomy, progressive, and downright punishing, Midlands foursome Conjurer are, quite simply, Proper Fucking Metal. They aren’t just loud, though – bringing huge amounts of atmosphere and technicality to their intense sound, they are one of the most compelling young bands on the circuit, helped along by last year’s debut album ‘Mire’. If you’re after a new favourite band, you may well have just found them here.

The Interrupters

Avalanche Stage, 6pm

After a peak in the late 90s to mid 00s, ska punk seemed to have tailed off a little not so long ago – many old favourites disappeared, went on hiatus, or simply lost the more mainstream popularity they had gained. Now, it’s making a comeback – and three albums in, The Interrupters are bringing a fresh face to the ska punk scene as they rapidly rise through the ranks. Staying true to everything that is most loved about the genre, there’ll be plenty of dance moves going down in the Avalanche Stage tent for this foursome.


Dogtooth Stage, 8.15pm

Bringing a welcome dose of groove to the proceedings, Ukranian powerhouses JINJER are led by the phenomenal vocals of Tatiana Shmailyuk. It’s hard to believe that one person could be capable of both the silky, ethereal clean singing and guttural, growling roars on display here – but believe it. Shmailyuk is an absolute titan, and there’s glorious riffs aplenty too. Expect your mind to be blown and you won’t be disappointed.

Rob Zombie

Zippo Encore Stage, 8.55pm

This legend of dirty, sleazy metal and goretastic cinema needs little introduction; his early career in the 80s and 90s with White Zombie led to fantastic success as a solo artist over the last two decades, notable for some increasingly bizarre album titles (‘The Electric Warlock Acid Witch Satanic Orgy Celebration Dispenser’, anyone?). Though he may have struggled to top his earliest releases in ‘Hellbilly Deluxe’ and ‘The Sinister Urge’, his grandiose Alice Cooper-esque live performances have more than justifiably earned him the top spots at festivals around the globe, and this is sure to be a dance-worthy party of a set.

At The Gates

Dogtooth Stage, 10.10pm

One of the originals in Swedish melodic death metal and a key founder of the infamous Gothenburg sound, At The Gates have a huge reputation among fans of the genre – and for good reason. After a breakup in 1996 that spawned rage-filled metallers The Haunted, At The Gates eventually reformed and have been a regular welcome presence on metal festival lineups since. Their 1995 album ‘Slaughter Of The Soul’ frequently crops up on top ten lists, and they comfortably occupy the thrashiest, heaviest end of melodeath; if you want your eardrums obliterating early this weekend, this is the best way to do it.


Parting Gift

Avalanche Stage, 11am

It might mean an early start (as festivals go), but if any band is worth setting an alarm for, it’s Manchester newcomers Parting Gift. Richly layered and darkly atmospheric, their intricate alt-rock is sure to fill the Avalanche tent with sound as they perform tracks from their recently released ‘Ensom’ EP and ease us into the second day of Download.

Hot Milk

Avalanche Stage, 12.55pm

Another Manchester band who’ve exploded onto the alt scene in 2019, Hot Milk will be the artist to uplift anyone and everyone’s hungover Saturday mood. With only four tracks to their name so far – debut EP ‘Are You Feeling Alive?’ was released last month – there’ll be a few even newer additions to the set, but their bright, sparky brand of pop punk will be irresistible from start to finish.

Animals As Leaders

Zippo Encore, 1.50pm

Probably one of the most unique bands of the weekend, Animals As Leaders are a leading light in the djent scene – if you’re at all intrigued by the likes of Meshuggah, Periphery and Tesseract, this is the set for you. Instrumental, highly technical, and thoroughly proggy, they’re led by guitarist Tosin Abasi, whose skill is nothing short of mindblowing. Just watch out for the mud on the floor when your jaw inevitably drops to it…


Main Stage, 3.35pm

The current weather forecast might not be the best, but Welsh reggae metal kings Skindred are all the sunshine we need on any afternoon. A band absolutely made for festivals, this set is guaranteed to get the crowd dancing and, of course, t-shirt swinging (if you haven’t yet been introduced to the Newport Helicopter, all the more reason to get down to the main stage for this one). It’s not far off 20 years since debut album ‘Babylon’ was released, but Skindred are still as fresh as ever, and this could easily be a festival highlight.

Trash Boat

Avalanche Stage, 5.05pm

Blending pop punk melodies with heavier hardcore and punk sounds, Trash Boat are as exciting as they are distinctive. With Saturday’s Avalanche line-up being dominated by the lighter end of the alternative/pop punk scene, the grit and power of a Trash Boat live set will bring much more crossover appeal for the heavy music fans. After 2018 album ‘Crown Shyness’ pushed them firmly into the spotlight, this is a band sure to be dominating main stages in the not too distant future.

Simple Creatures

Avalanche Stage, 8.40PM

For a band with just one six track EP to their name, released mere weeks ago, it might at first seem ridiculous that Strange Creatures are occupying the top spot on Download’s third stage. Of course, when you know that the two members of that band are Mark Hoppus and Alex Gaskarth, it’s not so ridiculous after all – though it seems they may have their work cut out filling an hour long headline slot. Their infectious pop-punk sounds exactly how you’d imagine a blend of blink-182 and All Time Low would, and this UK exclusive set will be riddled with fun and singalongs – as well as a chance to see two legends of the genre in a much more intimate setting than they’re now used to.


I Prevail

Main Stage, 12pm

Fresh from releasing sophomore album ‘Trauma’, I Prevail have now solidified an altogether more interesting identity as a band – and with explosive tracks like ‘Bow Down’ and ‘Gasoline’ likely to make an appearance, this set will be the best possible way to blow away the Sunday morning cobwebs and get invigorated for the final day. Heavy enough to be called metalcore, but with dubstep influences, doses of accessible poppier elements and some real Linkin Park vibes on their latest release, I Prevail are set to be a crowdpleaser for just about every Download attendee.

Black Peaks

Avalanche Stage, 3pm

With one of the best albums of 2018 in ‘All That Divides’ and a reputation for stunning live performances, Black Peaks are becoming a force to be reckoned with this year. Their soaring, prog-infused sound is both dreamy and hugely appealing, so it’s no wonder they’re landing massive support slots with the likes of Gojira. If you want to get on board with one of British rock’s leading hopes for the future, this is the set to get yourself to.

Crystal Lake

Dogtooth Stage, 3.10pm

If I Prevail can be considered one end of metalcore, Japan’s Crystal Lake feel like another genre altogether. Utterly ferocious in every way, yet still driving gloriously melodic highs into each track, this band bring every bit of their energy into their live performances. Crystal Lake have been around for a while, with a few line-up changes along the way, but fifth full length ‘Helix’ proved that they’re only getting better. Without a doubt one of the best in the genre right now, this is the place to be for some brutal, exciting and, frankly, catchy as fuck metal.


Zippo Encore Stage, 4.20pm

Sunday is promising to be a great day for the fusion of melodies and unapologetic heaviness, and Beartooth are rapidly becoming one of the biggest names in the game. Formed by front man Caleb Shomo – formerly of infamous metalcore outfit Attack Attack! – in 2012, the band have found themselves forming part of some seriously impressive lineups recently, including a UK tour with Architects last year. With the release of third album ‘Disease’ in September, Beartooth are going from strength to strength – don’t be too surprised if you see them headlining main stages sooner rather than later…

Fever 333

Avalanche Stage, 7.10pm

When it comes to formidable live performances, Fever 333 are comfortably taking over the world as leaders of the pack. Still relative newcomers as a unit, though with plenty of pedigree in the form of members Jason Aalon Butler, Stephen Harrison and Aric Improta, the band will be bringing their heavy-hitting, explosive brand of rock with a powerful message to the Avalanche Stage. Expect plenty of antics on stage and off – everything in the vicinity becomes a playground for this band, and it’s guaranteed to be one of the most memorable sets of the weekend.


Zippo Encore Stage, 8.45pm

Speaking of memorable – it doesn’t get much more memorable than the very last UK performance from one of the greatest legends of not just thrash metal, but metal as a whole. After a career spanning almost forty years, it’s time to say farewell to Slayer. There might be a little consternation among attendees that their set will partly clash with mainstage headliners Tool, but we’ll be surprised if there’s any space available in the vicinity of the Zippo Encore stage for this final hour and a half with the almighty kings of thrash. This is the ultimate “were you there?” set – so it’s probably a good idea to be there for it.