The Festival Forecast: The Must-Attend Heavy Music Festivals in 2022

The Festival Forecast: The Must-Attend Heavy Music Festivals in 2022

- By Stephen Reeder

An international look at the heavy music destinations that are among the most anticipated of the year.

Contributions by - Cori Westbrook, Ryan J. Downey, Dan Franklin, Yvonne Villasenor, Ramon Gonzales

While the world is still grappling with the reality of life in a pandemic, music fans seem cautiously optimistic about being able to once again enjoy the thrill of a festival in the new year.

For many events, the course of the last two years has included postponements, pivots, and plenty of shuffling to try and preserve some semblance of plans organizers began implementing for their 2020 events but are just now being able to execute.

That kind of interruption, combined with the isolation and lack of social interaction really has fans especially amped to find a destination, get a ticket, and spend a few days getting lost in the immersive experience that is a music festival. Heavy music fans are no exception.

Moving ahead with auspicious plans for 2022, the festival forecast for heavy music spans from classic alternative to hardcore, death metal to darkwave and plethora of sub categories in between. Taking an international look at what lies ahead, it's impossible to not feel excited about what is in the works for 2022 - as the organizers that have been able to weather the storm have resurfaced with events that are bigger and better than they have ever been before.

Fingers crossed... here are some of the must-attend heavy music festivals slated for 2022.

Outbreak Festival || Manchester, UK

The tenth installment of one of hardcore music's most venerated international destinations in the Outbreak Festival touts a three-day collection of the category's mot versatile and volatile artists in what comprises one of the year's best bills. Topped by appearances from Every Time I Die, Knocked Loose and Turnstile, the roster of artists is that of the genre's most relevant names. The multi-generational assembly of artists embodies the current, robust health of the community.

Anchored by stalwarts like Terror, Madball, Stick To Your Guns, and Basement, the next generation in Drain, Year of the Knife, Mannequin Pussy and Static Dress only serve to bolster the strength of an incredibly comprehensive bill. Further showcasing the diversity within the ranks, artists like Citizen, Nothing, and Slow Crush are contrasted with the assault in the likes of Venom Prison, God's Hate and Xibalba.

Few festivals tout the kind of line-up where the totality of the bill compliments all of the artists the way Outbreak does. The floor is going to be as live as the stage for this one. - Ramon Gonzales

So What? Music Festival || Texas, USA

It's been five years since the So What? took on the conventional wisdom of music festivals. Back with the same disregard for genre labels and category confines, the 2022 installment not only showcases bigger digs in Choctaw Stadium, formerly Globe Life Park, but also a three-day format that boasts a roster of artists spanning the very best in metal, rock, rap, hip-hop, alternative and pop-punk.

From I Prevail, Parkway Drive, The Ghost Inside, Blackbear, Simple Plan, Sum 41, 2 Chainz, Rae Sremmurd, Trippie Redd, Tyga, Knocked Loose, Stick To Your Guns, Poorstacy, 3OH!3 and so many more - the roster of talent is assigned it's own day - metalcore, pop-punk and hip hop. The already stacked line-up is expected to get a second wave of artists with a pending announcement set to drop in 2022 in what is described as the destination designed for fans that would patron both Warped Tour and Rolling Loud. - Ramon Gonzales


Welcome to Rockville || Florida, USA

For the longest time, I thought I’d have to travel outside the country to see a damn good rock festival. (Anyone else live vicariously through the live performances from Download Festival on YouTube?) And then Welcome to Rockville came around. WTR has had stacked lineups every year since its inception. And 2022 is no different.

This four-day music festival features more than 70 bands with epic names like Foo Fighters, Guns N’ Roses, KISS, The Smashing Pumpkins, Korn, Megadeth and Rise Against, along with killer supporting acts including Ministry, Poppy, Ill Niño, Halestorm, New Years Day, Jerry Cantrell, In This Moment and Spiritbox. Founder Danny Wimmer recently mentioned this is "the biggest lineup that has ever been booked for an American rock festival." That said, this is a definite must-see for every metalhead and hard-rock fan in the states. - Yvonne Villasenor

ArcTanGent || Bristol, UK

After a couple forced years off, the reliably brilliant festival of all things prog, math and post-, ArcTanGent returns in 2022 with their best and most stacked lineup yet. Taking place over three days (with a pre-party on the Wednesday if you fancy heading down early), fans will be clamoring to see some of the masters of the extreme and the esoteric from all over the world come together in a jubilant celebration of being back in the field together with friends and chosen family.

The top of the bill has a very Swedish flavor with prog/death metal wizards Opeth and post-metal maestros Cult of Luna headlining, but rather than pick quality over quantity, ATG have opted for both, with 109 stellar artists currently announced to be playing over 5 stages; with the extreme and abrasive nature of bands like Amenra and Oathbreaker, the technical virtuosity of The Hirsch Effekt and Rivers of Nihil or something a little more musically calm (but no less impactful) like Jo Quail or A.A. Williams, there's something for everyone here. Combine the insane roster with the intimate nature of the festival grounds, great food and local breweries, and an 'infamous' silent disco each night, this is truly an event not to be missed. - Matt Rushton

Roadburn Festival || TIlburg, The Netherlands

I am most excited for Roadburn this year. Roadburn's whole premise of "Redefining Heaviness" really speaks to me. Heavy music isn't always about blast beats and how brutal you can be, but also tackles heavy and emotional subjects. Roadburn is also one of the "tastemaker" festivals, where you can experience bands completely unrestricted by genre. The curators this next year, GGGOLDDD, have chosen some exciting acts that really compliment the festival. I may not be excited to sit on a plane for the many hours it will take to get there from Oregon, but it will totally be worth it! - Cori Westbrook

Download Festival || Leicestershire, UK

I traveled to the legendary Castle Donnington Park festival grounds in June 2006 for the Download Festival, which saw my favorite band of all time, Metallica, celebrating the 20th anniversary of Master of Puppets with a full album set. Tool and the Chinese Democracy-era Guns N’ Roses were the other headliners. A band I manage, Throwdown, played the Snickers stage. While we didn’t get any Snickers bars, we certainly had a blast. I’ve always wanted to return to Download someday. 2022 looks grand, promising one of the last KISS shows; the mighty Iron Maiden in their home country; the band that got me into metal, Megadeth; and my pals in Black Veil Brides, Rise Against, and other friends I’d love to see in that environment. Black Veil plays the same day as KISS, one of Andy Biersack’s favorite bands, and one of the many common loves for him and me. Here’s hoping! - Ryan J. Downey

Desertfest London || London, UK

Although I think the ArcTanGent festival looks like one for the ages, nothing has got me going like the Desertfest festival in London's district of Camden over the May holiday weekend. Split across multiple indoor venues, there are lots of highlights for the 10th anniversary installment of the gathering, including the UK debut of Khemmis. But the Sunday night at the legendary Roundhouse is the doom metal lineup of my dreams, headlined by the mighty Electric Wizard. It will be smoking! - Dan Franklin

Cruel World || California, USA

Spanning the serene Arroyo Seco Natural Park adjacent to the historic Rose Bowl, a brilliant collection of post-punk, classic alternative and emerging darkwave and synthpop will take over Pasadena for the inaugural Cruel World bill. Titans of the genre like Bauhaus, Echo & The Bunnymen, The Psychedelic Furs, and The Church will be pooled together with their modern day contemporaries in TR/ST, Blaqk Audio and Drab Majesty.

The highly focused line-up also boasts cult pioneers like 45 Grave, The Damned and the trailblazers of alt-punk in a special performance from Devo - all this and we haven't even mentioned the festival's headliners with the start power of Blondie and Morrissey anchoring the bill. The comprehensive collection of classic alt, combined with major festival production and the onstage theatrics will ensure unrivaled spectacle. - Ramon Gonzales

Bloodstock Open Air || Derbyshire, UK

Bloodstock is the premiere UK metal festival encompassing pretty much every metal sub genre. The 2022 lineup is headlined by veteran heavy hitters, Behemoth, Lamb of God & Mercyful Fate. Also landing main stage spots are a mix of established acts and up-and-comers, including: Philip H. Anselmo & the Illegals playing their Pantera set, Dimmu Borgir, Testament, Exodus, The Black Dahlia Murder, GWAR, Bury Tomorrow, Sacred Reich, Life Of Agony, Butcher Babies Vio-Lence, and Bloodywood. For a handful of acts, including GWAR, their festival appearance will mark their only UK shows next year. If you’re in the UK, or can make it to there, Bloodstock is a MUST! - Cori Westbrook

Wacken Open Air || Schleswig-Holstein, Germany

The quintessential, the classic, the legendary Wacken Open Air will be a sight to behold in 2022 for those that have tickets (yes, it is already sold out, as is tradition). Those fortunate enough to have tickets will be in store for quite the weekend featuring: Slipknot, Till Lindemann, and Judas Priest. All-in-all, 88 bands have been confirmed for Wacken in 2022 and, after two years of waiting, likely 88 wild pits to accompany them. Missing from the landscape of heavy music and culture since 2019, the long-awaited return comes with extra anticipation as fans have show their eagerness to get back to the grounds and behold all that is Wacken. - Cori Westbrook

Summer Breeze Open Air || Wittelshofen, Germany

Summer Breeze represents one of the most balanced festivals Europe has to offer, bringing together bands from all the sub -genres, established acts, and strong representation for the underground and up-and-coming artists. 2022 will be no exception to that tradition!

2022 marks the 25th anniversary for Summer Breeze and it is a blowout festival featuring headliners Heaven Shall Burn, Blind Guardian and Arch Enemy; a Nuclear Blast Label Night with curated acts: Testament, Paradise Lost, Exodus, Pallbearer, and Fleshgod Apocalypse; and a full “Riot” of underground acts! - Cori Westbrook

Aftershock Festival || California, USA

Hard rock and metal fans from all around California — and the world — will be descending upon Sacramento to take part in one of the US’s rowdiest music festivals. October 6-9th, rock music fans will bang their heads, pump their fists and shout along to an uncanny variety of acts that span a solid cross-section of hard rock, metal and punk. The true strength of this festival is the depth of its lineup, which, this year, included the triumphant return of Mudvayne after their 12-year hiatus and a legendary appearance from the Original Misfits. Substantial enough to anchor a festival with just those two, all of this was the undercard to a two-night weekender that featured two unique sets from the undisputed Metallica. Needless to say that with such a historic 2021 in the books, the forecast for 2022 looks to be equally as epic. - Cori Westbrook

Rock Am Ring and Rock Im Park || Nürburgring, Germany

Scheduled for June 3-5 next year, the dual festivals Rock Am Ring and Rock Im Park will occur at sites in Nürburg and Nuremberg, Germany, respectively. Previously pandemic scrapped 2021 headliners Green Day and Volbeat will perform in 2022 along with August Burns Red, Billy Talent, Black Veil Brides, Boston Manor, Bush, Daughtry, Ice Nine Kills, Korn, Of Mice and Men, Stick to Your Guns, The Distillers, The Offspring, Weezer, Deftones and many more. Among the more concise fests Germany has to offer, it marks an excellent warm-up to the mammoth festivals later in the summer. - Cori Westbrook

Maryland Deathfest || Maryland, USA

Are you ready for a whole host of logos you can’t read, bruises you can’t identify, and whiplash you’re damn proud of? Maryland Deathfest is set to be an absolute bloodbath with acts such as Carcass, Dismember, Cavalera, Morbid Angel, Obituary and Hellhammer. Mosh until your limbs fall off from May 26th-29th. The acts will perform from four different venues including Edison Lot, Rams Head Live, Baltimore Soundstage and Power Plant Live.

Hindered by postponements and ongoing pandemic concerns, the festival has been able to maintain most the inital line up that has since been pushed back a couple of times now. Despite the uncertainty of the last two years, Maryland Deathfest looks to return with their biggest formatted fest yet complete with a footprint four venues deep and a line up that is nothing short of legendary. - Cori Westbrook

Psycho Las Vegas || Nevada, USA

Psycho Las Vegas was one of the few festivals that took place in 2021 and will return with a vengeance in 2022. The lineup is one of pure mayhem (pun intended) and includes: Emperor, Mayhem, Satyricon, Watain, Mercyful Fate, At the Gates, Katatonia, Wolves in the Throne Room, Ulver, Samael, Cirith Ungol, Mgla, King Woman, Marissa Nadler, and Year of No Light. Prepare for a sea of thousands of banging heads and a giant circle pit swirling to some of the most demented heavy music ever recorded... a circle pit in a Las Vegas pool no less. - Cori Westbrook

Hellfest || Clisson, France

Hellfest 2022 might just be the coup de grâce, the festival to end all festivals. When asked “How many metal bands should we book?” the organizers simply said “Yes.” Hellfest 2022 will be a roaring seven-day, two-weekend event featuring a staggering 350 bands on six stages. The lineup includes Metallica, Guns N' Roses, Nine Inch Nails, Scorpions, Avenged Sevenfold, Faith No More and Deftones, but really, the bigger question is, "What band didn't they book?" The list is much shorter. - Cori Westbrook
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