Since Download Festival rose from the ashes of Monsters of Rock in the early 2000s, it has rapidly built an international fanbase, allowing it to become the biggest rock and metal festival in Europe. Download Festival has the following and funds to attract the biggest metal bands in the world, with some of the biggest names in the history of the genre such as Iron Maiden, Rammstein, Slipknot, Black Sabbath, Metallica and others all headlining. 

Download Festival 2018 / Photo Credit: Katja Ogrin/EMPICS Entertainment/EMPICS EntertainmentDownload Festival 2018 / Photo Credit: Katja Ogrin/EMPICS Entertainment/EMPICS Entertainment

However, fans haven't always appreciated the line-ups put together by Download Festival. Some years the headliners can seem out of place and other years the line-up has come across as unoriginal or repetitive. 

This year's line-up has divided the fanbase in some respects, but based on who isn't there rather than who is. For example, Rammstein were early favourites to headline on forums, but their busy European schedule soon ruled out any chance of them playing. Here, we will look at ten bands who should have been on this year's Download Festival line-up but have been overlooked.

Norma Jean

Having played just six UK shows since 2017, it's understandable why Norma Jean have once again been left off the Download Festival line-up. Forming in 1993, the metalcore titans have rarely ventured across the pond to the UK, with just three UK tours in the past six years. 

However, 2019 saw them release their critically acclaimed and simply stunning album, 'All Hail', which proved to be one of the year's most defining metalcore albums. It received fantastic reviews across the board and has allowed them to tour both North America and Australia since. Norma Jean would have been a great leftfield choice for Download Festival, but they have never played Download before and it looks as if the wait will continue. 


One of the most distinct and ever present rock bands of the past 25 years, Katatonia have been absent from the Download Festival line-up since 2013. Hailing from Sweden, Katatonia have been key figures in the European doom and progressive metal scenes for several years now. 

Last time Katatonia played Download Festival, it was as part of their festival tour following the release of 2012's 'Dead End Kings', but did not return to the festival following 2016's 'Fall of Hearts' album. 

With the release of the band's forthcoming record, 'City Burials', later this year, it seems like the ideal time for the band to make a return, but the wait for Katatonia at Donnington goes on. 


It's been six years since Crossfaith last tore up the Download Festival main stage and their presence has been missed by the festival's electronicore fans. Their last appearance at the festival was biblical, where they received an astonishing fan reception and great turn-out to their early afternoon set. 

Since they last played Download Festival on their 'Apocalyze' tour, they have released two albums which have received great feedback from their fanbase. However, being from Japan Crossfaith rarely find themselves in the UK but are coming here as part of their world tour at the beginning of March. It seems Crossfaith have found a way into the UK without the reliance of festival call-ups. 


As the second Swedish band to appear on this list, the power metal giants are definitely overdue a visit to Download Festival and 2020 seemed like it would be the year to break the streak. Yet, with gaps on the bill growing smaller with every passing announcement, their name remains absent.  

Sabaton last played Download Festival in 2017 in between Motionless In White and Mastodon on the main stage. That was off the back of their 2016 record 'The Last Stand', but they played just one show in the UK after their 2019 album 'The Great War'. Download seemed like an ideal location for such a show, but the band opted for a showing at the MK Arena instead. 

Diamond Head

By far the oldest band to appear on this list, Diamond Head are undercard legends in the heavy metal scene. Originally forming in 1976 as part of the new wave of British heavy metal (NWOBHM), Diamond Head are credited as one of Britain's most influential metal bands and have influenced bands such as Metallica and Megadeth. 

Diamond Head have had a notable stop/start career, disbanding twice and cycling through a catalogue of members. This may be why Diamond Head are yet to play Download, but with two great recent albums in the self-titled 'Diamond Head' and 'The Coffin Train', the band are carrying the most momentum they have had in decades. 

Royal Blood

It's hard to believe that one of Britain's biggest break-out rock bands of the 2010s have only played Download Festival once. The riff rock duo from Brighton exploded onto the rock scene in 2014 with their exceptional self-titled debut record. They made their maiden Download appearance in the same year but have since played a host of other festivals on multiple occasions.

Royal Blood now have two albums to their name and have gathered international fame thanks to supporting Foo Fighters on tour. However, they continue to evade Download and it's unclear whether that's a decision made by the band or the festival organisers.


Speaking of breakthrough British acts from the 2010s, Slaves have never played Download Festival. Not to be confused with the American four-piece band of the same name, Slaves are a punk rock duo from Tunbridge Wells in Kent. 

In 2014 they released their debut album 'Are You Satisfied?', and now have a total of three albums under their belt with the latest coming in 2018. In this time, Slaves have played several festivals and even headlined 2000 Trees Festival in 2017 alongside Nothing But Thieves. 

Blood Youth

Another newer band who seem to be regularly missed off the Download Festival bill are rising British Metalcore stars Blood Youth. Blood Youth formed in 2014 and have only played Download Festival twice since their formation. 

The band's debut release came in the form of their stunning 2015 EP 'Inside My Head', which demonstrated the brutal possibilities of their modern breakdown clustered metalcore style. Since 'Inside My Head', Blood Youth have released one other EP and their debut full-length album, 'Beyond Repair'.

Blood Youth haven't played Download since 2017, but with rumours of a second album in the works, 2020 seemed like it would have been a prime time for their return.

Lawnmower Deth

Metal has sometimes been accused of taking itself a little too seriously. A genre defined by full-length leather jackets, make-up and even had an era called 'glam metal', it's easy to see why a sense of irony can be adopted by some musicians. 

Lawnmower Deth formed in 1987 and remained active as a comedy rock-cum-thrash metal crossover band until they disbanded in 1993. Fifteen years later, they resurfaced and have remained an active touring band ever since, with Download Festival being a regular date on their schedule. 

As their sixth Download performance, 2018 was potentially a career-defining performance for Lawnmower Deth and an occasion that was 30 years in the making. After being so well-received so consistently over the years, surely they would have been welcomed to the 2020 line-up. 

Killing Joke

Arguably one of the most overlooked bands of all time beyond the realms of rock music, Killing Joke are credited as one of the most polarising bands to ever exist. Forming in 1978, Killing Joke have been likened to genres such as gothic, industrial, punk, post-punk and even heavy dance, but they are far too broad in their style to be even remotely pigeon-holed.

Killing Joke have not played Download Festival since 2006 despite releasing three full-length studio albums since then. The latest was 2015's 'Pylon', which was hailed by many publications as one of the year's best metal albums.