If Emily Eavis is looking for great young rock artists to play Glastonbury, look no further than the incredible modern metal scene

Dool, Alt Blk Era, Knocked Loose, Witch Club Satan and the Pyramid Stage
(Image credit: Witch Club Satan: Helge Brekke; Dool: David Fitt; Alt Blk Era: Dean Chalkley; Knocked Loose: Cahil Bhanji; Pyramid Stage: Getty)

“There aren’t a lot of new rock acts to choose from if I’m honest. Hopefully that will emerge again, my heyday was 1995 with Pulp and Oasis and Radiohead... and that was great but music changes all the time and right now this is where we’re at.” These were the words shared by Glastonbury organiser and booker Emily Eavis in a recent interview with The Telegraph when discussing the criticism the all-conquering UK mega-festival has received for a perceived lack of rock acts on its latest bill, topped by pop superstar Dua Lipa, modern r’n’b queen SZA and perennial Glasto darlings, Coldplay. 

The criticism itself has been, to be frank, a little misguided; Glastonbury’s 2024 incarnation boasted plenty of great rock music for those willing to peak past the Pyramid Stage, the likes of Idles, The Last Dinner Party, Fontaines D.C., Soft Play, Nothing But Thieves, Yard Act, High Vis, Skindred and Voice Of Baceprot just some of the names bringing the riffs to Worthy Farm this year. Eavis’ words will, however, raise alarm bells for rock fans, not least because they paint a somewhat inaccurate picture of the state of rock music in 2024. 

It’s certainly true that guitar-based music in general is struggling to generate major, headliner-sized artists at a consistent rate when compared to the ongoing outputs of pop, hip hop and EDM. But scratch just a little beneath the surface and you’ll find countless bands pushing envelopes, breaking boundaries and moulding rock into thrilling and curious new shapes - and nowhere will you find more evidence of that than in the incredible modern metal scene.

Metal has always thrived in the underground, unbothered by mainstream trends and steered by artists with the creative freedom to find the most visceral, teeth-rattling new ways to express themselves. But in recent years, the genre has exploded into life in new ways, crowning all manner of colourful and creative personalities as leaders in the scene and seeing genuinely heavy, abrasive acts gain mainstream critical clout and momentum without sacrificing their sound or core values.

It can be seen from the genre’s low, murky depths to its new class of arena headliners. Over the last decade or so, the number of metal acts to graduate to arena status in the UK is actually pretty impressive: Bring Me The Horizon, Architects, Ghost, Parkway Drive, Nightwish, Within Temptation, Sabaton and Sleep Token are just some of the names to have made the jump. True, some have done so quicker than others (Sleep Token’s viral explosion last year stands in stark contrast to the slow and steady grinds of European veterans like Nightwish and Sabaton), but metal’s ability to shift a lot of tickets in major venues is in its healthiest state for quite some time. Do any of these bands have the kind of pop culture footprint needed to headline Glasto? Probably only Bring Me The Horizon, and at a push, but when you have plenty of arena-sized artists taking up slots right across the bill each year, there’s absolutely no reason all those bands and more couldn’t command decent spots on the lineup.

Architects - "Animals" (Live at Alexandra Palace) - YouTube Architects -
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Really, though, it’s the emergent generation of metal bands that are the most exciting and offer Glastonbury the opportunity to showcase rock at its most edgy and vital. So far this year, we’ve seen stellar releases from the likes of boundary-prodding Netherlands doom metallers Dool, whose new album The Shape Of Fluidity is a shimmering, transgressive journey that beautifully dissects binary ideals and fragile notions of identity. There’s also Dvne’s bold, cosmic progressive metal, which reaches for expansive new sonic realms on the excellent Voidkind. Or there’s the genre-hopping eccentricity of Seeyouspacecowboy’s marvellous Coup De Grace, which takes the band’s sound-clashing ‘sasscore’ to dizzying, emotionally turbulent new heights. If you want something a little more straightforward, you could allow Knocked Loose to blow your nipples off with their savage brand of metallic hardcore, which manages to cover new ground on You Won’t Go Before You’re Supposed To (hello, reggaeton breakdowns!) without compromising an inch of their all-out, relentless heaviness. In darker waters, there’s the trope-burning feminist black metal of Witch Club Satan’s debut album, or the gnarly versatility of upcoming death metallers Gatecreeper with their splendid latest, Dark Superstition.

All these artists and so many more are proof that metal remains the ground zero for innovative, fearless music-making in rock. It’s also currently the place to find the kind of big, unforgettable personalities that festivals like Glastonbury love to champion; last week saw the release of the debut album from self-styled princess of ‘Bimbocore’, Scene Queen, whose righteous feminine fury comes wrapped in a delightfully unique mix of guttural metalcore breakdowns and sugary-sweet glitter-pop. In the coming weeks, we’ll also see new releases from corpsepainted, werewolf-loving power metallers Powerwolf (they sing about erections and play arenas in Europe!), nu metal-championing, genre-mashing sister duo Alt Blk Era and Eurovision-invading, dazzlingly camp metal troupe Lord Of The Lost. All would be the kinds of bookings that’d go down a storm at the world’s biggest music festival - or at least leave a damn-near unforgettable impression.

To give Emily Eavis and Glastonbury their dues, the festival had made great progress in giving metal a bigger platform prior to the pandemic. In the years following Metallica’s historic headline performance in 2014, Glasto teamed up with legendary underground label Earache to bring heavier bands to the lineup, resulting in the likes of Gojira, Napalm Death, Venom Prison, Employed To Serve, Entombed A.D. and Ho99o9 getting to play. Post-2020, however, things have trailed off; Skindred’s riotous ragga-metal and Voice Of Baceprot’s Indonesian metallic clatter were both voraciously received this year, but there’s always room for more. Music may well change all the time, but metal always has something to say, and never more so than now. If Glastonbury is looking for exciting, innovate rock music to bring to its bill in 2025, we know exactly where to start.

Dool - Venus in Flames [Official Music Video] - YouTube Dool - Venus in Flames [Official Music Video] - YouTube
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Merlin Alderslade
Executive Editor, Louder

Merlin moved into his role as Executive Editor of Louder in early 2022, following over ten years working at Metal Hammer. While there, he served as Online Editor and Deputy Editor, before being promoted to Editor in 2016. Before joining Metal Hammer, Merlin worked as Associate Editor at Terrorizer Magazine and has previously written for the likes of Classic Rock, Rock Sound, eFestivals and others. Across his career he has interviewed legends including Ozzy Osbourne, Lemmy, Metallica, Iron Maiden (including getting a trip on Ed Force One courtesy of Bruce Dickinson), Guns N' Roses, KISS, Slipknot, System Of A Down and Meat Loaf. He has also presented and produced the Metal Hammer Podcast, presented the Metal Hammer Radio Show and is probably responsible for 90% of all nu metal-related content making it onto the site.