As we head into February, it's time to gaze into the future and predict the metal and rock acts that will be whipping UK festivals into shape come the summer.
From the scary and the hairy, to masked bands and the bands set to be unmasked this year, we bring you the headliners, festival fillers and emerging rockers to see in 2009…
Eight years after their LP 'Stiff Upper Lip', the Australian stadium rock legends finally returned with their number one album 'Black Ice' in 2008 along with a huge world tour, but no festivals. So 2009 should see them back on the circuit, which could include Reading for the first time in 32 years – it could be quite a return.
Last Played: Monsters of Rock 1991
Might See Them At: Reading and Leeds, Download, Hyde Park Calling
Last time Metallica really hit the UK, it was with the bloated and under produced 'St Anger' album. But since then they've gone back to the drawing board and hit form again with 'Death Magnetic', which allowed the thrash gods to deliver a crushing headline spot at the Reading and Leeds Festival last year. They will be looking to build on those shows in 2009 and insiders have them topping a new festival at Knebworth. If not, Download anyone?
Last Played: Reading and Leeds 2008
Might See Them At: Download, Knebworth Festival
Guns n' Roses
2008 turned out to be the year where, in the world of hard rock, hell literally froze over. Axl Rose and Co's long long long awaited 'Chinese Democracy' album was finally unleashed and the group set about touring it, like, well, a normal band. The new material didn't go down spectacularly well, but the old hits still drew the crowds and it'd be silly to rule out a return to any of the UK festivals' main stages.
Last Played: Download 2006
Might See Them At: Download, T In The Park, Reading and Leeds
Iron Maiden [l-zone2]
Britain's most successful metal export had a quiet 2008, resting after a sweeping world tour in 2007, which included a headline slot at Download. But with Bruce Dickinson gesturing that a new album is almost ready to drop, the sextet could be bill-topping Download for the second time in three years or they could be featuring at the proposed Knebworth festival.
Last Played: Download 2007
Might Seem Them At: Download, Knebworth festival
Forced to pull out of the Reading and Leeds double header after whirlwind drummer Joey Jordison suffered a broken ankle, the 'Knot have assured UK fans they'll be back for a full round of festivals in 2009. Denmark's Roskilde have already snapped them for the summer, expect Download, Reading and Leeds to all follow suit.
Last Festival: Download 2006
Might Seem Them At: Download, Reading and Leeds
Since ripping Reading and Leeds' Lock Up Stages to shreds, Gallows have been putting the finishing touches to album number two. Virtual Festivals checked out the band when they debuted new tracks in London and we can confirm that, despite singer Frank Carter suffering with an acid reflex problem, the group still sounding tight and they remain at their chaotic best.
Last Festival: Reading/Leeds 2008
Might See Them At: Download, Give It A Name, T In The Park, Reading and Leeds
The inventors of "trancecore" have been holed up on the Isle Of Wight trying to polish the follow-up to their smash debut 'Take To The Skies'. A real favourite with crowds on their first circuit, the Hertfordshire lads will play Give It A Name in April with many more to follow we’re sure.
Last Festival: Reading/Leeds 2007
Might Seem Them At: Download, O2 Wireless, Reading and Leeds
Heaven Shall Burn
German band Heaven Shall Burn have been one of the best keep secrets in metal since their formation in 1996, but all that looks set to change this summer. Their fifth album 'Iconoclast' has brought them legions of new fans and, hopefully, a renewed interest from festival bookers. Expect a Download appearance as a bare minimum.
Last Played: Wasted 2006
Might See Them At: Download, Reading and Leeds, Bloodstock Open Air, Meltdown
Bring Me The Horizon [l-zone4]
Birmingham hardcore band Bring Me The Horizon are simply everywhere at the moment, with new long player 'Suicide Season' doing very nicely. They'll now be eyeing up some meatier festival slots after scrapping in the new bands tent for a while.
Last Played at: Reading/Leeds 2008
Might See Them At: Download, Isle of Wight, O2 Wireless, Give It A Name, Reading/Leeds
One of the more recent arrivals to Pete Wentz's ever growing Decaydance roster. Florida's female fronted pop punkers Hey Monday are sure to be a feature of the smaller stages at this summer's festivals.
Might See Them At: Download, Give It A Name, Reading and Leeds
By Tom Goodwyn