The 10 Bands Representing Metal’s New Headliners

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Heavy metal has been around for over half a century at this point, and many of those at the genre’s founding are still around today.

Although Ozzy Osbourne recently announced his retirement from touring life, much of heavy metal’s old guard is still hitting the road year after year.

However, among those in the metal community, much has been debated about who metal’s biggest headliners will be when these acts retire. Who knows when Metallica and Slipknot may retire, but all good things end sometime. And when that happens, who are the big acts that will draw in folks at metal festivals?

Well, we have an idea. Considering the relatively younger bands who have exploded in popularity – and have received much critical and financial success – we feel that the following 10 metal bands are the new big headliners in modern heavy metal.


Having been active for a little short of 25 years, Trivium has more than proven itself to be one of the biggest metal bands in the world. From their metalcore roots, the band has gone on to expand upon their artistry, bringing in more heavy, thrash, and even death metal qualities to their material. As one of the most popular bands in the genre right now, Trivium is easily one of the most important bands in this era of metal.


Among the other acts on this list, Speed is the youngest band present – that said, in the short time that they have been around, they have been making some serious waves. Having formed in 2019, this hardcore band has gone on to sell out multiple shows in their home country of Australia and abroad. Their impressive display of sonic aggression makes them a must-listen, and as more hardcore music makes its way into the mainstream, Speed is currently cementing itself as one of the genre’s biggest headliners.


For 20-plus years, Mastodon has been delivering super-crushing progressive metal. While their roots may be firmly placed in sludge metal – a sound they have not abandoned – Mastodon has evolved well beyond those beginnings, honing in on extremely tight songwriting anyone can get down with. From their captivating concept albums to the ferociously engaging energy they provide during their shows, Mastodon has so much to offer, and there is no sign of them slowing down any time soon.


Though they are creeping up upon their 30th anniversary as a band, Gojira’s hold on metal is only beginning. A band that appeals to both mainstream and underground audiences, the music of this French progressive-death metal band is nothing short of thrilling. Through their brilliant songwriting, Gojira presents songs brimming with intricate technicality and stunning atmosphere – creating experiences capable of stirring mosh pits and contemplative thought. In short: Gojira is phenomenal.

Knocked Loose

There are a lot of amazing bands that have helped hardcore reach mainstream audiences, possibly the biggest being Knocked Loose. As of 2023, it’s been 10 years since the band formed, and they have had one hell of a career already. The band has made its way onto some major mainstream festival lineups (like Coachella) and has gotten big ups from the likes of M. Shadows and Corey Taylor. That all said, through their artistry, Knocked Loose has found a way to push heaviness in hardcore to its max range, which against all odds has only made them more beloved.


Sorry haters – Ghost is without a doubt one of the most important bands in the rock and metal space. For almost 20 years, the Swedish band has been captivating the world through their exhilarating pop-metal tracks and brilliant use of theatricality. When you go to a Ghost show, you aren’t just signing up for a typical rocking out time – you are getting an EXPERIENCE. Over the course of their career, the band has reached a level of success where they are now playing stadium shows, so when it comes to the likes of Download or other metal festivals – Ghost is an obvious choice.


Death metal is experiencing one hell of a golden age. Among the bands that have aided in ushering in this new wave of death metal is Arizona’s own Gatecreeper. With two studio albums and several other releases under their belt, Gatecreeper is by far one of the most thrilling and ferocious-sounding bands in the death metal space. Through their incredibly driven work ethic and crushing musical presentation, Gatecreeper is speedily working its way to one day stand among the likes of Cannibal Corpse and Morbid Angel.

Killswitch Engage

This Massachusetts band helped show just how heavy metalcore can get, and they’ve earned a hell of respect for it. Over the course of a 24-year career thus far, the band has gone on to release a plethora of critically beloved albums, as well as play numerous metal festivals. Each new release from the band sees them innovating their hardcore-metal blend, providing songs rich with thrills and emotion courtesy of singer Jesse Leach. Having emerged into the metal world in the late ’90s, Killswitch Engage is one of the most important names in modern metal.

Code Orange

Hardcore music has seen some fascinating evolution over the past couple of decades – in terms of sonic delivery and commercial appeal. While Knocked Loose has certainly done a lot to elevate the genre, another massively important name is Code Orange. The Pittsburgh, Pennslyvania band not only delivers awesome hardcore, but they’ve gone on to imbue their music with captivating touches of industrial electronics and nu-metal. Let alone that the band has brought even more hardcore and metal folks together, they’ve also drawn in music listeners from outside the heavy music space. As time goes on, Code Orange is only getting bigger.

Bring Me The Horizon

Last but not least, it is beyond surreal how far Bring Me The Horizon has come over the course of their career. Starting out as deathcore darlings, the band has now ascended to a realm of pop-metal heaviness, captivating metalheads, and your regular pop fan. And Bring Me The Horizon blends those two forms of music masterfully, offering compositions that offer flavorful sonic appeal, while also providing thrilling energy that can work pits up. In just a short 20 years, Bring Me The Horizon has done so much, and who knows how much more they will go on to do.