It felt like a distant glimmer just a few months ago, but it's finally happening: Shows are returning. One of the hardest parts of the pandemic for most heavy-music fans was our inability to experience metal and hardcore in their intended setting, and if you're like us, you spent the last year and a half kicking yourself for all of the concerts you skipped out on in the past for whatever reason. As 2021 tour and festival announcements continue to flood in every week, here are the 20 acts we're most excited to see throughout the rest of the year.
Code Orange were dealt the unlucky hand of having to release their ferocious new album, Underneath, on the day everything truly went to shit: March 13th, 2020. The Pittsburgh innovators adapted by putting on some of the most unique and memorable livestream shows in all of rock music, but later this year we'll finally be able to witness drummer-vocalist Jamie Morgan take his newfound position as bona fide frontman, and hear him roar through the album's monstrous highlights.
Our favorite album of 2020 was Deftones' Ohms, and none of us have even been able to hear the songs in the live context yet. The heavy-music trailblazers' fantastically eclectic summer tour with Gojira and Poppy — more on them later — will be the perfect way to take in bangers like "Ceremony" and the title track: blasting out of the monitors in between their many other alt-metal classics.
Faith No More
Faith No More were supposed to tour with Korn last year — a full-circle nu-metal moment we were very sad to see get denied by COVID-19. Sans Korn, we're still super excited to catch Mike Patton and cohorts back onstage together — and will be even more so if they break out an extra helping of Angel Dust cuts in anticipation of the album's 30th anniversary next year
As Ghostemane told surprising fan Jack Black in our Winter 2020 cover story, he's never felt like his live show has quite lived up to his vision. "Whenever touring is a thing again, I think it's finally going to be where I want it to be," Ghoste promised. If you've ever watched his Lollapalooza 2019 set — complete with plague-masked stilt-walkers and live onstage head-tattooing — then you know we're in for some next-level insanity.
Gojira kept us waiting five long years for a new album, but April's Fortitude was well worth it. It's a dynamic record readymade for the stage — we're dying to witness instant classics like "Born for One Thing," "Amazonia" and "Into the Storm" played live, and you know we'll be singing along to "The Chant." Sandwiched between Poppy and Deftones, the Brothers Duplantier and Co. should deliver a whale of a good time.
Jinjer's new song, "Vortex," is an absolute crusher, and we can't wait to watch it send a room into chaos. The Ukrainian progressive metal band are gearing up for an "uneasy" new album called Wallflowers that boasts their "most aggressive sound" yet, so it'll be fun to see how those songs — and their old ones, too —play on Jinjer's late fall run with Suicide Silence and All Hail the Yeti.
Judas Priest are celebrating their remarkable 50-year career with a massive, two-month trek across North America later this fall. With half a century of leather-clad, Harley-whippin', vengeance-screamin' years behind them, the heavy-metal institution don't owe anyone anything, but Halford's proven again and again that he's still got plenty of gas left in the tank. Horns up.
Knocked Loose somehow got even bigger throughout the pandemic, which was maybe because their songs embody the same kind of untethered anger and frustration that so many of us amassed throughout the last year and a half. The Louisville metalcoreunit have a busy 2021 ahead of them, as they're doing a small-room headliner with Gatecreeper, hitting a bunch of major metal festivals and then heading out with Gojira later in the fall. That's a lot of opportunities for fist-swinging, and lord knows we need 'em.
Lamb of God
Lamb of God shows are always a wild time. The groove-metal heavyweights dropped an album of bangers last year that proved they'reas consistent as ever even without Chris Adler on the kit, and getting the pissknocked out of us in the "Laid to Rest" pit sounds like the perfect way to get reacquainted with our natural environment. Plus, their summer tour also boastsMegadeth, Trivium and In Flames, so there'll be more than enough riffs to go around.
Admit it: You're kinda stoked to see Limp Bizkit. Maybe it's purely out of morbid curiosity or merely to find out what outlandish ensemble Wes Borland will turn up in this time, but whatever your motivation, we're right there with you and ready for the Fred Durst carnival to roll through town. After a year and a half of no shows, it's just one of those days.
Last year, Loathe stunned us with their shimmering sophomore album, I Let It In and It Took Everything, which found harmony between Deftones-esque alt-metal, animalistic industrial hardcore and utterly gorgeous shoegaze. For as crisp and detailed as the songs sound on recording, hearing them in packed clubs later this year — when they open for fellow U.K. gang Architects — will surely reveal entirely new dimensions that have been glimmering beneath their sonic surface.
This is a big year for Metallica. The "Black Album" turns 30, and metal's mightiest institution are headlining an array of festivals where they're scheduledto perform "unique sets" each night. Nothing's been confirmed, but if we had to venture a guess, one of those performances will probably be stuffed with songs from their 1991 mega-smash — perhaps even all of the songs, played in order from front to back. Either way, their sets are going to rule.
After a 12-year hiatus, Mudvayne are reuniting later this fall for four special festival appearances, and we're stoked as hell. The shape-shifting alt-metal group's seminal debut, L.D. 50, turned 20 last year, so we're hoping for all of the classic hits and, if we're lucky, maybe even the iconic makeup they rocked in their early days. In whatever guise the band appears, it's time to hear "Dig" in a crowd full of screaming fans.
Nine Inch Nails
The last time we saw NIN onstage — at a Brooklyn stop on 2018's Cold and Black and Infinite tour — it was a stunning experience. Trent opened with the Broken EP in full, and the electric performance raged and writhed from there, climaxing with the soul-baring catharsis of "Hurt." The trek saw the band digging up never-before-played cuts and long-neglected rarities. What surprises will NIN's 2021 dates hold? We can't wait to see.
Nothing's 2020 opus, The Great Dismal, gave their already-HD shoegaze sound the full widescreen theater treatment. Songs like "Say Less" and "Famine Asylum" are the most towering tracks they've ever made, and hearing them hit at an ear-bleeding volume in a room full of fellow Nothing heads is bound to be a legitimately euphoric experience. Plus, for a band who treks between shoegaze, grunge and the Hum multiverse of alt-metal, they put on an energetic — and incredibly loud —show that any punk or metalhead could get down with.
On her ravenous new EAT EP, Poppy's sound got heavier, angrier and more mosh-able than it was on her nu-metal-inflected 2020 album, I Disagree. For those reasons, we're more excited than ever to witness her new-and-improved live show, which she'll be showcasing later this summer with Deftones and Gojira. Based on the chaotic metalcore sounds of songs like "Say Cheese" and "Cue," she might even start busting out Greg Puciato-style head-walks. Anything goes in Poppy's world.
There're already a bunch of great opportunities lined up for fans to see Slipknot later this year. After their kickass Knotfest Iowa fest goes down on September 25th (featuring many of the bands on this list), the masked metal maniacs will be trekking the country with Killswitch Engage, Fever 333 and Code Orange. If you thought Slipknot put on a rage-filled show before, imagine what they'll sound like after a year and a half of clenched-fist misery.
On their smattering of recent singles, Spiritbox swim gracefully between titanic djent, crushing metalcore, beaming alt-metal and the type of emotional hard rock that Evanescence mastered in the early 2000s. However, one genre the fast-rising Canadian trio don't sound like at all is the frat-house rap-metal that Limp Bizkit specializes in, which is why we're so curious to see what happens when Spiritbox open for Fred Durst and Co. on their small-club tour later this summer.
There's truly no other show like a Turnstile show. The Baltimore hardcore juggernauts elicit the most acrobatic stage-dives and room-swallowing sing-alongs out of anyone in their peer group, and with a summery new EP, Turnstile Love Connection, out in the world and a pandemic's worth of pent-up energy inside of them, their myriad festival dates and California mini-run with Show Me the Body are going to pop the fuck off.
For 20 years, Andrew W.K. has made a strong case for the necessity of partying. Now, his message couldn't be any more urgent. The party-metal enigma is playing a handful of mid-size rooms and festivals throughout September, and it'll be fans' first opportunity to attend mass in honor of his decimating new album, God Is Partying. You better start training now, because W.K. is about to unleash Olympian levels of celebratory heaviness.
It's BTS and their fandom, the BTS Army, is the most powerful music fandom. Since their debut in 2013, the seven-member K-pop boy band has broken multiple records. They're the best-selling artist in South Korean history with the best-selling album in South Korea of all time.
Justin Bieber takes the top spot, with millions of followers across socials and billions of plays on streaming services. The most popular female artist currently goes to Taylor Swift, while BTS are unsurprisingly the most popular band.
From Blondie and TLC to the Doobie Brothers and the Fugees, our favorite groups are back together and hitting the road. Mike Rutherford, Phil Collins and Tony Banks of Genesis perform on stage "The Last Domino Tour" at The SSE Hydro on October 7, 2021 in Glasgow, Scotland.