10 Rock and Metal Music Fests to Hit in 2018

Article by: Evan Sakrison

Tue April 03, 2018 | 15:45 PM

Metalheads and rock enthusiasts are as stubborn as any species with a hard-on for good music. The summer festival season is upon us, and so far we’ve celebrated by overanalyzing and complaining about the lineups. That doesn’t stop us from entering our credit card info anyway, because deep down we’re totally psyched to get back into the pit and cause some mayhem once again. Heavy music has no borders, so if you can afford to attend at least one of these awesome festivals around the world in 2018, your year will be absolutely epic.

Roadburn Festival, Tilburg, Netherlands (April 19-22, 2018)

Critical acclaim does not always equal mainstream appeal. This rings true for the Roadburn experience in the Netherlands, which is arguably the most left-field of any music festival on this list. Its focus on avant-garde metal is a total deconstruction of heavy music in the best way possible. Each year, the organizers invite a guest musician to help curate the lineup, and this year that honor belongs to Jacob Bannon, the frontman of hardcore punk legends Converge. You can trust him to deliver a mix of delightfully strange acts that seek to redefine the meaning of heavy.

Notable acts: Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Converge, All Pigs Must Die

Rock on the Range, Columbus, Ohio (May 18-20, 2018)

If Roadburn is avant-garde, then Rock on the Range is the polar opposite. Simply put, you’ve likely heard most of these bands on your local rock station within the past 20 years. That’s not an insult, by the way, because chances are one of your favorite guilty pleasures is in the lineup. Besides, many of these acts are icons in the overall rock and heavy metal genres. The most notable piece of news is that Maynard James Keenan, the reclusive genius behind Tool, A Perfect Circle, and Puscifer, is pulling double duty this year at the Columbus-based festival. Tool just entered the studio to record their long-awaited follow-up to 10,000 Days, and A Perfect Circle will release Eat the Elephant on April 20th, the band’s first studio album in fourteen years.

Notable acts: Tool, A Perfect Circle, Alice in Chains, Avenged Sevenfold, Stone Temple Pilots

Maryland Deathfest, Baltimore, Maryland (May 24-27, 2018)

Maryland Deathfest (MDF) features the kind of music you listen to when you have a virgin sacrifice at noon. It’s also one of the only festivals in the country to showcase this type of metal. Festival organizers Ryan and Evan have done a hell of a job of curating skull-shattering lineups since 2003, eventually creating two spin-off Deathfests in Oakland, California, and Quebec to bring carnage to other markets. Death metal supergroup Bloodbath made landfall in the United States for the first time in 2015 to headline MDF, and they’ll return in 2018 to crush it once again. It's also a perfect place to catch Satyricon, who is currently on their final U.S. tour ever.

Notable acts: Bloodbath, Satyricon, Godflesh

Rock am Ring, Nurburg, Germany (June 1-3, 2018)

Rock am Ring started rocking in 1985, before anyone else on this list. Even thirty-plus years later, the iconic shredfest is one of the largest music festivals in Germany (held in conjunction with Rock im Park the same weekend). The past two years were interrupted by severe thunderstorms and a terrorist threat, but rock and metal prevailed anyway. Hopefully the festival can escape 2018 without any fuckery.

Notable acts: Foo Fighters, Marilyn Manson, Meshuggah

Sweden Rock Festival, Solvesborg, Sweden (June 6-9, 2018)

Behind Finland, Sweden is the second most metal country in the world with 37.14 metal bands per 100,000 residents. This fact alone should convince you to drop money on a ticket to the Sweden Rock Festival in Norje. The festival began in 1992 with nine unknown bands and has quickly ballooned up to 100 notable acts, spanning the whole rock and metal spectrum. Whether you’re feeling stoner rock, power metal, gothic rock, celtic metal or any other random subgenre, you’ll probably hear it here at some point.

Notable acts: Iron Maiden, Ozzy Osbourne, Judas Priest, Kreator

Download Festival, Derby, UK (June 8-10, 2018)

As the premier rock and heavy metal festival in Britain, Download is riddled with awesome – and particularly wacky – history. In 2008, potential future Michigan senator Kid Rock allegedly pissed on the festival promoter’s sofa because his backstage needs weren’t met. In 2012, it was rumored that Bay Area heavy metal band Machine Head had 29 circle pits going during one song, reportedly a festival record. Guns N’ Roses were pelted with glass bottles during their performance in 2006, prompting bassist Tommy Stinson to chuck his instrument at an innocent cameraman. All is well more than a decade later though, because their headlining performance in 2018 will be the band’s first UK festival appearance since Slash and Duff McKagan rejoined in 2016.

Notable acts: Guns N’ Roses, Parkway Drive, Bullet for My Valentine, TesseracT

Hellfest, Clisson, France (June 22-24, 2018)

Some music festivals sell out of tickets before there’s even a lineup. Hellfest in Clisson, France, is one such festival, whose rabid fans will shell out hundreds of dollars just to walk through the gates of Hell. If you’re into festivals that draw the attention of Catholic priests and angry politicians, Hellfest is pure, evil fun. Beyond more mainstream metal gods as headliners, all six stages feature ruthless aggression from a relentless lineup of black metal, death metal, hardcore punk and extreme metal bands, among others, and there’s a Ferris wheel for some reason.

Notable acts: Iron Maiden, Deftones, Megadeth, Stone Sour

Wacken Open Air, Wacken, Germany (August 2-4, 2018)

As the Mecca for heavy metal culture, we don’t need to dive into Wacken’s consistently killer lineups. Instead, take a moment to watch the festival’s official trailer for the 2018 edition above. It shows a video montage of people from all corners of the Earth, throwing up devil horns while en route to the village of Wacken in Schleswig-Holstein, Germany. The international presence here is virtually unmatched; seeing a crowd of tens of thousands of people from all over the world going nuts while displaying their nations’ respective flags is pretty compelling.

Notable acts: Behemoth, Samael, Night Demon, Soen

Psycho Las Vegas, Las Vegas, Nevada (August 17-19, 2018)

The rules of aerodynamics apply to even the most brutal mosh pits, but what happens when passionate metalheads go waist-deep into a luxury pool at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino? Psycho Las Vegas already lives up to its name for putting on an insanely high-energy music festival, but what makes it special in particular is the one stage next to the pool. Hulk-smashing the water and dunking random strangers underneath while a band shreds is as satisfying as it sounds. Plus, gambling.

Notable acts: Sunn O))), Witchcraft, Dimmu Borgir, Danzig

Rock al Parque, Colombia (August 18-20, 2018)

You won’t have to weasel your way into this one because, by some miracle, this rockin’ festival in Latin America doesn’t charge admission. And just because it’s free of charge doesn’t mean it’s free of talent, either; Rock al Parque has seen the likes of Exodus, Fear Factory, and Darkness on its stages, and 2018 will be no different. You’ll have to contend with roughly 400,000 people in attendance, but at least your wallet won’t suffer.

2018 lineup not released yet