REVIEW: Sonisphere 2011

sonisphere 01

Last weekend’s Sonisphere festival was kicked off on the Friday afternoon by Diamond Head, probably best known for being covered by Metallica, Diamond Head 2011 are still going strong. Their early riffs and extended song structure were obviously heavily borrowed by a young Lars Ulrich, Diamond Head also have a cool ‘70s Bad Company type rock vibe which perfectly eases the crowd into the mayhem that will follow.

Anthrax are up next and waste no time giving the audience exactly what they want. Early songs and hits, delivered with all their trademark energy and abandon. Mostly from the classic ‘Among the Living’ album. Founder member Scott Ian’s presence is notably absent, he’s away on paternity leave, who knew Metal bands had that these days? Anyway he’s ably replaced by Sepultura’s Andreas Kisser who’s clearly enjoying a summer of touring with his childhood heroes. They even throw in a snippet of ‘Refuse/Resist’ as a nod to his pedigree.

Megadeth could really have picked up the passed ball from Anthrax a bit better, opening with some mid tempo numbers. The set is a bit of a mixed bag and it’s not until ‘Wake up Dead’ that they really hit their stride with Mustaine and Broderick trading solos. ‘Symphony of Destruction’ (which has the crowd singing along to the riff Beavis and Butthead style) and ‘Peace Sells…’ provide a good closer, with Holy Wars rounding it all off in a proper ‘Deth shredding fashion.

Slayer of course, up the intensity even further. You want brutality? You want face melting solos? You want to scream along with Tom Araya? It’s all here:
WARRRRRRRRRRRRRR! Slayer’s line up see’s another substitution. Apparently guitarist Jeff Hanneman was suffering a flesh eating virus. Hopefully he’ll get well and at least get some lyrics from the experience. He’s replaced by Exodus guitarist Gary Holt who fills in fine.
Metallica< Metallica. I should at this point put my hands up and admit it’s nigh on impossible for me to write an objective review of a ‘Tallica gig. Love ‘em too much. Sorry. Opening with ‘Hit the Lights’ we get the full run through of the greatest hits, heads are banged, fists are thrown in the air, pyros explode, the loyalty that Metallica have from their fans is not shared by many acts. When the other 4 bands come out, along with Brian Tatler of Diamond Head, to jam on the classic ‘Am I Evil’, it perfectly solidifies the day. The hair may be receding, the beards may be grey, but the fire is still there. Total frikkin’ awesomeness.

Arcane Roots, a special mention must go them, opening the Red bull stage on Sunday morning and still managing to get the audience to form a mosh pit pre-noon. Fair play.

House of Pain really look like they’re not that bothered. Or rather Everlast looks like he’d rather be playing his solo albums. Starting as they do with a laid back funk jam. But just as they start to morph into the Fun Lovin Criminals they dust off a couple of old hits like ‘Shit kickers’, finishing of course with ‘Jump Around’. Does Everlast take his hand out of his pocket and jump around? No he does not. The crowd of course couldn’t give a toss, it’s sunny and it’s a classic.

Mastodon on the other hand play like somebody lit their collective arses on fire. Like a heavier denser Queens of the Stone Age, it’s all very, very heavy, a bit proggy, but the music just bulldozes you into submission. Impressive Stuff.

Motorhead everybody knows what to expect, they are Motorhead, they are Rock N’Roll. But today, perhaps because Wurzel, the ex guitarist had passed away the previous day, their set doesn’t quite burn it all up. Still, we get what is says on the tin; all the greats, ‘Metropolis’ and the closing killer one two of ‘Ace of Spades’ and ‘Overkill’. Always a pleasure lads.

Airbourne are like a souped up AC/DC on amphetemines. The lead singer repeatedly opens beer cans on his head and traverses the lighting rig while soloing. Proper hell for leather rocking.

cancer bats< Cancer Bats from Canada manage to absolutely ram fill the Bohemia tent. They may not have many flavours or colours to their music but all that is made up for in intensity. Unrelenting. The lighting rig over their heads stays firmly fixed to red. It’s all rage and screaming with frontman Liam Cormier ping ponging from side to side on the stage.

Limp Bizkit : ah, the rock fans guilty pleasure; nobody wants to actually own up to liking them. Their lyrics are daft as a brush, the frontman often sounds like a spoilt 13 year old. But when they open up their frat party keg of Whup ass, everybody, nay sayers included, joins in. All killer and (mostly) no filler.

Bill Bailey’s set was the perfect crowd pleaser and a welcome change from the heavy grind. His spoken stand up routines did seem to get lost in the mix a bit, but he mainly relied on his musical numbers, backed up by a band specially assembled for the occasion. His rendition of ‘Scarborough Fair’ was very touching, as the sun had just at that moment peeked through the gathering rainclouds. For a moment it was all very pastoral and olde England, till he said’ “But I really prefer the way Rammstein would do it”. Next thing you know, the entire field of metal heads were bouncing in unison to a Techno Kraut Rock version of ’Scarborourgh Fair’; truly a sight to see.

Slipknot really owned the end of Sonisphere. Playing tribute to the memory of their bass player Paul Gray, it was an emotionally charged set. But as Corey Taylor told the crowd from the outset ‘This is a night for positivity, this is a celebration’. Drum risers, flame canons, a set list that is brutal, melodic and haunting, they ripped it up. By the time it came to the regular ‘Jump the Fuck up’ bit in ‘Spit it out’, the crowd was with them the whole way.

Sonisphere 2011 was the Business. Awesome line up, well run, friendly and tolerant. Something that seems lacking at many more commercial festivals.
Here’s to 2012. Get some. Go again.

For more photos check

God is in the TV is an online music and culture fanzine founded in Cardiff by the editor Bill Cummings in 2003. GIITTV Bill has developed the site with the aid of a team of sub-editors and writers from across Britain, covering a wide range of music from unsigned and independent artists to major releases.