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We know, Rock on the Range might not be your thing, but you’ve got to admit it’s pretty cool we’ve got a major rock festival with some pretty huge talent performing in our backyard. Spend some time on the Rock on the Range Facebook page and you’ll see that hard rock fans from across the country and even some from around the world are making the pilgrimage to Mapfre Stadium for a carefree weekend of throwing horns and headbanging.

We break it down day-by-day and tell you the bands you shouldn’t miss (and the ones you should) and the bands that we think might fly under the radar but are worth checking out.

FRIDAY

Don’t Miss:

Marilyn Manson – As a pretty big Manson fan, I’m biased here, but whether you’re an old fan or have never seen him before, this is the year to see Manson live. Touring in support of his best in a decade album “The Pale Emperor”, Manson’s live show has shown a return to form. I caught the band earlier in the year when they were still playing large theaters at Stage AE in Pittsburgh and it was the best Manson show I’ve seen in years. He’s sober (ish), has an excellent band that still features longtime bassist and songwriter Twiggy Ramirez and they’ve been selling out around the country for most of the year. Word is he’s upped the size of the stage show for this most recent round of dates so it’s hard not to be curious about what the ole Antichrist Superstar will have up his sleeve for Ohio. (Keith)

Live – Like, the ’90s alt-rock band? Yep. Definitely sticking out like a sore thumb on a festival filled with heavy bands, Live was brought back to life in 2012 when singer Chris Shinn (Unified Theory) joined the band. Live was the unexpected highlight of the 2013 Summerland Tour (featuring Everclear, Filter and Sponge) and in October 2014 released the surprisingly heavy (well, in terms of their past catalog) The Turn. And they play early enough on the main stage that they should avoid having plastic cups full of beer launched at them by Slipknot and Marilyn Manson fans! (Chip)

Sleeper:

It’s really tough to call a band that’s been around as long as Dillinger Escape Plan a sleeper act, but that’s what I’m going to do here. While the cult that surrounds these math metal maniacs is fervent, I’m not sure how familiar the ROTR set is with these guys. For the uninitiated, their live show is sure to leave some eardrums blow and skulls cracked. In smaller club settings such as the Basement, they’re known for scaling amps and rafters, stage diving with instruments on, and in general fixing your face with a wall of brutality. Expect them to bring the heat to their late afternoon set on the Ernie Ball Stage. Bonus sleeper act: Islander. These guys bring the heavy in that late 90’s era Deftones kind of way, and that’s not a bad thing in my book. Get there early to catch their 12:30 Ernie Ball Stage set. You wanted to ditch work anyway. (Keith)

Well, I’ve already picked Live as a “Don’t Miss” so I might as well pick another non-heavy band as a sleeper. UK’s Young Guns are considered an “alternative metal” band … I get the alternative part, not so much the metal part and think these guys would probably fit in on a CD102.5 fest-type bill better than on Rock on the Range. But, if you need a break from aggro vocals and downtuned guitars, Young Guns is worth checking out. (Chip)

Skip:

Breaking Benjamin. Let’s face it, you know what you’re getting if you see these guys, and besides, you’ll still be watching Dillinger Escape Plan, right? (Keith)

Listen, I LOVE Guns N’ Roses (even the current version) but have never gotten into Slash’s brand of generic hard rock. Last year, I used Alter Bridge’s set as a chance to find a seat in the back of the stadium and just chill out while waiting for GN’R’s headlining set. This year, I suspect people will do the same during Slash’s set as the prepare the powerful 1-2 closing punch of Marilyn Manson and Slipknot. (Chip)

Bonus: Brian Posehn is headlining the Comedy Tent. His brand of humor should go over well with the metal loving masses. Friday is pretty stacked. (Keith)

SATURDAY

Don’t Miss:

Ministry. Perhaps the most exciting announcement on this year’s Rock on the Range line-up for me personally was industrial forefathers Ministry. Their brand of punishing electro-metal was seminal for me growing up, and I’ve never caught the band live before. Al Jourgensen is one of those guys I didn’t even think would still be around in 2015 and ROTR has done the right thing by choosing to have them close out the Ernie Ball Stage. Raise those devil horns high for them children. (Keith)

If Saxon wasn’t on the bill, I’d agree with Keith’s pick. However, Saxon doesn’t tour the U.S. that often and for a band that’s been around since 1976, you might not get many more chances to see these guys bust out majestic UK metal. (Chip)

Sleeper:

This is a tough one for me. With all the controversy surrounding him, I’d love to think that it’s Scott Weiland with his band the Wildabouts that come out and exceed everyone’s expectations and deliver a great set. Even if he doesn’t, you’re sure to be entertained, if long skidding rock and roll train wrecks are your thing. And if you want to keep the weird going you can always move from Scott’s set over to Baby Metal’s well timed 4:20 set on the Ernie Ball stage. Get weird, Rangers. (Keith)

Baby Metal. Power metal-meets-Japanese Girl Group pop. Forget it, while there are some strange bands on this festival, nothing is stranger than Baby Metal and it’ll be fascinating watching how the Rock on the Range crowd reacts to this novelty act. (Chip)

Skip:

Papa Roach. There’s not even really a conflict with another band there. Just don’t. Go get a hot dog, cut that into pieces. This is your last resort. (Keith)

Having to sit through Papa Roach AND Godsmack to get to Judas Priest is going to be rough. Anybody have a club suite I can hang out in for a few hours on Saturday evening? (Chip)

SUNDAY

Don’t Miss:

Crobot. These guys are bringing some much needed bare knuckle gritty stoner rock and roll to this year’s ROTR lineup. Fans of the Sword and Clutch upset that those bands are missing from this year’s festivities will surely enjoy their heavy, groove-laden offerings. (Keith)

UGH! I’ll be on a plane to Florida for work when Rival Sons hits Ernie Ball stage at 4:20. These UK guys are a throwback classic blues-rock band (think Bad Company). I hope and pray that some 16-year-old kids see this performance and are inspired to start a band because of it. (Chip)

Sleeper:

Unlocking the Truth. Ok, so you’re going to have to arrive early in order to catch this teen trio’s opening set on the Ernie Ball stage. Like really early. 11:45 early. But hey, rock and roll is your church, right? You’re at freakin’ Rock on the Range! They opened for Marilyn Manson earlier this year and won over his audience with their heavy beyond their years brand of thrashing. Expect those who do make it to walk away with bragging rights. (Keith)

While Finland’s Santa Cruz isn’t quite as ’80s hair metal sounding as I’d hope, they certainly have the Sunset Strip look. You can definitely hear bands like Shotgun Messiah and Skid Row in their sound but they’ve added a modern twist and incorporated electro-dance elements. Still, these guys should put some smiles on faces of guys my age who used to read Hit Parader and Circus magazines. (Chip)

Skip:

Anthrax. Just kidding. You definitely should not do that. Skip Halestorm. Oh, who am I kidding? You’re not gonna. Lzzy Hale is a total babe. Rock on, Rangers. (Keith)

By this point you’ve likely spent all weekend at Mapfre Stadium and might even be dreading going into work Monday morning. Stick around for Rise Against but don’t feel bad about cutting out before Linkin Park goes on – I won’t blame you. (Chip)