Written with contribution from Marta Tavares.
As Friday makes way, Saturday & Sunday are absolutely filled to the brim with HUGE acts. Whisper it, but the weather is also looking startlingly good. Here's our picks of the bunch.
Iron Maiden - Saturday - Apex Stage (Main Stage) - 20:55-22:55
"Scream for me Donington". It feels a long time coming after the past few years but it will be impossible not to feel something in your veins when Bruce air-raid sirens that across the hallowed turf come Saturday night. Whilst dubbed as being part of the "Legacy of the Beast Tour", the band are hot off the back of their recent release Senjutsu so expect a set layered with new material side-by-side with their all-time classics. One of Download's (and indeed Donington's!) most reliable acts over the years, the Saturday is almost certainly going to be the busiest of the three days on site - all due to the power of Maiden.
Top Tracks: Hallowed Be Thy Name, Aces High, Children Of The Damned
Biffy Clyro - Sunday - Apex Stage (Main Stage) - 21:10-22:50
Headlining Download for what will be the second time, Biffy Clyro's rise through the ranks at this festival over the years has been nothing short of remarkable - and should encourage younger bands lower down the bill. The "controversy" around their booking has always been frankly absurd, and much like they did the last time they headlined, we'd be astonished if out of the big three at the top they didn't pull away as the weekend-stealers. Expect a varied set, they like to bring some of their heavier treats to Donington.
Top Tracks: That Golden Rule, Saturday Superhouse, There's No Such Thing As A Jaggy Snake
Deftones - Saturday - Apex Stage (Main Stage) - 18:10-19:30
Deftones will be an interesting one this year. Following the fairly public departure of bassist Sergio Vega in recent months and guitarist Steph Carpenter not joining the band for the European Tour, it will be a bit of a new-look feel to one of California's finest. When it comes to festival sets, Deftones know what's up. They usually pluck tracks from across their entire varied discography to leave their legions of fans both satisfied and salivating for more once time is up.
Top Tracks: Rocket Skates, My Own Summer (Shove It), Bored
Korn - Sunday - Apex Stage (Main Stage) - 18:30-19:40
Yet another perfect festival band, Korn have never been anything but brilliant whenever they've graced Download Festival and with a set time clocking in at just over an hour you should absolutely expect wall to wall bangers. Looking at set-lists from recent times, the band have also successfully implemented tracks from their previous two impressive records, The Nothing (2019) and Requiem (2022), to sit alongside the better known fan favourites back from the nineties and early noughties. No chance of any lingering weekend hangovers staying put when standing in front of this lot.
Top Tracks: Got The Life, Blind, Here To Stay
Megadeth - Saturday - Opus Stage (Second Stage) - 19:30-20:45
One of the many truly legendary acts on the bill this year, Megadeth are currently on a very rich vein of form live. With Mustaine overcoming serious illness and new band members injecting something fresh to the fold, the band really feel like they're driving forward with a renewed sense of urgency - which can only be a good thing for their particular brand of metal. The Thrash titans haven't graced the hallowed Donington turf since 2016 so it certainly feels a long time coming! Heads will be banging, lyrics will be screamed, ridiculous air guitars will be in full flow. We cannot wait.
Top Tracks: Holy Wars... The Punishment Due, Rust In Peace... Polaris, Sweating Bullets
Mastodon - Saturday - Opus Stage (Second Stage) - 18:05-18:55
Out of all of the bands we've selected in this and other preview features for 2022, there simply isn't anyone as consistent as Mastodon are on record. Seemingly unable to hit a wall creatively, the band are currently making up for lost time on what they enjoy most in playing live following the release of their eighth studio record Hushed and Grim late last year. There hasn't be too much opportunity to hear tracks from it live just yet so we're hoping they've inserted a good chunk of them in to the set-list alongside the classic ragers of course. Our tip for band of the weekend.
Top Tracks: Mother Puncher, Pain With An Anchor, Blood and Thunder
Malevolence - Saturday - Opus Stage (Second Stage) - 13:20-14:00
Despite having what feels like an alarmingly early set time, with the buzz and momentum behind Malevolence at the moment we wouldn't be surprised at all if they drew the biggest crowd in comparison to their peers in similar slots across the weekend. Their latest release, Malicious Intent is frankly a powerhouse - one which will sit proudly in the upper echelons of many "album of the year" lists come December. If you need to blow away any Friday night cobwebs, go and get yourself utterly bludgeoned sonically by this five-piece unit from Sheffield.
Top Tracks: Self Supremacy, Malicious Intent, On Broken Glass
Baroness - Sunday - Opus Stage (Second Stage) - 15:55-16:40
When Baroness last hit Download Festival in 2018, many walked away with the view that they'd been the highlight of the weekend. They deliver a live performance which both feels delicate and bone-crushingly heavy at the same time, striking a balance many other bands could only dream to achieve. In recent years there have been reports the band are currently working on new material so we're hoping to some thrown in to the mix for their set.
Top Tracks: Take My Bones Away, Shock Me, A Horse Called Golgotha
Bleed From Within - Saturday - Dogtooth Stage (Fourth Stage) - 17:00-17:30
Riding a seriously strong wave of momentum down from Glasgow since the release of the very well received Shrine in recent weeks, there's a real sense of "this could be their time" with Bleed From Within at the moment. Hailed by many as band of the weekend at the Download Pilot, there was some hope they'd be rewarded with a main stage slot this year but alas. Whilst that hasn't happened this year we fully expect Bleed From Within to challenge the very foundations of the tent come Saturday evening. Get down there, bang your head and revel in the presence of a band ready to take the next big step upwards.
Top Tracks: The End Of All We Know, Flesh And Stone, Ascend
The Darkness - Sunday - Opus Stage (Second Stage) - 18:35-19:25
We can't be the only ones expecting the most ridiculous and fitting outfits when The Darkness hit the stage with their chest-beating anthems. They might believe in a little thing called love, but it will be difficult drawing a huge crowd with Korn bouncing around just across the field. They'll still have their hardcore droves who wouldn't miss it even if burros invaded the field, and one thing is for sure, it'll be a lovely time.
Top Tracks: Get Your Hands Off My Woman, Black Shuck, Growing On Me
Sepultura - Saturday - Dogtooth Stage (Fourth Stage) - 20:10-20:55
To put it simply, don't stop yourself from watching a rampage of pure hits of thrash metal and pioneering levels of groove. Andreas Kisser, Derrick Green and co. will come with all guns blazing to showcase an heritage that is hard to move past from. The deep voice coming out of that big fucking unit, "Sepultura do Brazil" will make you start your own mosh pit and bang your head as if you were watching the headliner on the last day of the festival. No feet allowed on the floor for 45 minutes. "Sepultura do caralhooooooo"!
Top Tracks: Refuse/Resist, Territory, Arise
Napalm Death - Saturday - Dogtooth Stage (Fourth Stage) - 19:00-19:35
Fresh from playing next to a luxury speed boat in Primavera Barcelona, Napalm Death will be ready to obliterate your senses as they bring their grindcore chaos. Not sure if this previous setting is part of his secret beauty routine, but Barney Greenway seems to be de-aging as he looks in better shape than ever. Fasten your leather belts and tighten your chains, their high-speed tempo and blast beats might knock you down.
Top Tracks: Scum, The Wolf I Feed, Nazi Punks Fuck Off
It's nearly time. Whether you've already got ticket in hand, if already sat by your tent or you're still teetering on the fence about getting a ticket head over to https://downloadfestival.co.uk/. See you in the field.
Written with contribution from Marta Tavares.