2022 was the year that live music fully returned after the barren wasteland that was the pandemic era. And what a year it was! Rammstein burned down a few more stadiums, Parkway Drive and Ghost cemented their status as modern arena heavyweights, Iron Maiden and Kiss rolled back the years at Download, and Bloodstock gave us everything from a secret Machine Head set to a returning Mercyful Fate. All told, 2023 has got a hell of a lot to live up to, but it’s looking very strong already. Here are 10 metal tours we cannot wait to get down the front of.
There are fewer things in music more than a new Metallica album, and we’re getting one this year. Not only are the planet's biggest metal band releasing the seven-years-in-the-making 72 Seasons on April 14, but they’re also embarking on their most ambitious tour. Spanning 2023 and 2024, it will see the band taking up residency in 72 different cities across the globe (plus Download) each of which will see them playing two different sets, presumably allowing them to dip into some of the dustier corners of their illustrious back catalogue. Add in support slots from Pantera, Five Finger Death Punch, Volbeat, Architects and more, and you’ve got the tour that sets the benchmark for the next two years.
Unquestionably the breakout metal band of the last few years, if Spiritbox’s shows on UK soil thus far are anything to go by then their July tour is going to be one for the ages. The venues they are playing this time around are quite the upgrade from the 800 cap Islington venue, but, when you factor in the momentum Spiritbox have, they look positively humble in comparison to where they will likely be in next time they come around. In a few years you’ll be able to say “I was there!”.
Sleep Token were one of the most talked about bands of 2022. Their mix of dexterous tech-metal, hook filled, huge, melodic pop vocals and their mysteriously masked image has proven to be something of a perfect storm for fans, and their ascent can be measured by the fact that during their upcoming February tour they will play venues measured in their thousands rather than hundreds. If the intensity of their shows can translate in these larger rooms then this could be their coronation into the big leagues.
Could it be the most OTT tour in the history of music? We’re certainly scratching our heads trying to remember a night with more potential giddy thrills than seeing Swedish power metal legends Sabaton, Kawaii metal innovators Babymetal and Eurovision winning metal monsters Lordi all taking turns to batter our senses. What’s most impressive about this bill is the fact that these are three bands that are the absolute antithesis of “cool” and yet they find themselves joining forces to decimate some of the most sizeable arenas across the United Kingdom. Whatever you think of each band, you can’t deny, it’ll certainly be eventful.
Trivium delivered a potential career best record in 2020’s What the Dead Men Say, and we were desperate to see those songs live. The pandemic happened, which put paid to that for a while. Rather than rest on their laurels, the Floridans made another album which was equally as good, 2021’s In the Court of the Dragon. Obviously, Trivium have always been a great live band, but we’ve been waiting for what feels like forever to see those new songs in the flesh, and during the first month of the year we finally will. The fact that metalcore veterans Heaven Shall Burn and Sheffield destroyers Malevolence are on the bill too is a particularly tasty cherry on the cake.
Getting to see Gojira in arenas across the UK has been a long time coming, and we’re not just referring to the pandemic in this case either. The French prog-death-groove metal machine has been on frighteningly unstoppable form for over a decade now, crushing any locale they play. Their last album Fortitude, Hammer’s album of the year in 2021, was more streamlined and designed for exactly the kind of rooms they will find themselves in this coming February. Expect them to effortlessly make the step up.
Lamb of God/Kreator/Municipal Waste
Back in late 2019 it was announced that Richmond groove metal heroes Lamb of God and German thrash legends Kreator were joining forces to obliterate the United Kingdom. It’s been pushed back numerous times over the years, but this March we will finally see the pair on the same stage. It’s sad to look back at the initial bill and see the name Power Trip there, with the bands late frontman Riley Gale still very much in our thoughts, but with their place taken by another top-notch thrash band in Municipal Waste, this still promises to be one of the finest no-bullshit metal tours of the year.
Are we finally okay to admit that Limp Bizkit are great now? It’s been well over a decade since the rap-metal megastars came back to decimate Download in 2009, and they’ve been one of the most reliably brilliant, party starting live bands ever since. The four dates they do in April, rescheduled from 2022, will be the most raucous, bouncy, boisterous night of the year, no doubt. And, with a bunch of, actually pretty decent, new songs to chuck into the set from their 2021 album Still Sucks we might even get a little bit more than pure nostalgic fun from Fred Durst and Co.
Yeah, it had to be really didn’t it. It’s been less than a year since we got to see the new Senjutsu stage set, but the fact is, as soon as Maiden announce a full arena run, it’s always going to get onto a list such as this. You’re not going to find a more consistent band in metal, or a more life affirming show as a Maiden one here on British soil, surrounded by tens of thousands of fellow metal-loving friends.
Ozzy Osbourne/Judas Priest
Possibly the most agonising wait that any of us have had or will ever have for a live show. Originally set to take place in 2019, these dates had to be rescheduled more than once, and as the years progressed, we couldn’t help but wonder if we were ever going to see them take place. Ozzy’s health has been up and down over that time, but he’s still the Prince of fucking Darkness, only a fool would pass up the chance to see him one last time. We’re crossing everything and praying that these dates finally go ahead in June.