Thursday, 13 October 2011

Sonisphere Review 'I shall judge you there...'

          Boom Sonisphere 2011, Where do we begin? This year’s festival season has been insane and I seriously cannot pick which line-ups been my favourite or even which festival that I attended was the best. There was something special about this year’s festival season. And after Download what could Sonisphere hold-up? Well the big 4? The first festival headline set of Biffy Clyro? The Return of Slipknot? The bench mark was already high, now it’s unattainable.
          So unlike the Download review where I spent most of my time recapping my journey there, this time it’s just going to be a straightforward review of the event, mainly because most of the time when bands weren’t playing were spent in a tent drinking and trying to get some Austrians to say ‘I’ll Be Back.’ So anyway on with the review.

Day One: Friday
          This would be the second year Sonisphere had had bands playing for three days, this year with a little bit more successes than the year previous, how? Well with the inclusion of the ‘Big 4’ of Thrash metal and Diamond Head on the main stage. However, bar one, every other stage were previewing bands on the Friday. We Started off by watching the Japanese Voyeurs. We’d seen them on the Black Spiders tour a few months back but due to poor sound the music just blended into noise. Today the sound is better, but whether it was worth waiting for is still debated. At times the actual music was top class, however the vocals seemed weird and not to fit, and a cover of Nine Inch Nails’ Closer just shows the gap in quality between the band and their Industrial counterparts. [4]
           With the exception of Metallica, the band I’m looking forward to seeing the most today are up next. I first got into Lower Than Atlantis a year ago after they released Far Q, and say them at last years Sonisphere. Since then I’ve caught them on a number of support tours and their performances have just improved. And with the realise of their brilliant new album, World Record and a tent full of Atlantis fans, I was genuinely pumped. (I think I should point out that despite them being one of my new favourite bands, I missed them at regrettably missed them at Download) But today the band rise to the occasion, with two roaring starts with ‘Motor Way of Life’ followed by ‘Far Q’ then taking the audience to a shout along chorus of ‘Deadliest Catch’ and a huge version of ‘I’m Not Bulimic…’ where the breakdown, ‘we are the kids of the recession, over drafts, loans and no pensions, we are the kids of the recession, we’ll learn our lesson, from years of living in a country in depression’ these words never seemed so clear and everyone young and old are feeling it. Atlantis conquers. [9]
          We finally make a visit to the main stage to see a ‘Big 4’ band, seeing them 2 years running means that were not to fussed about seeing them for a third year but we watch the end of their set. And then wait and anticipate Megadeth! The only band of the four that we haven’t seen yet, and most of the previous nights talk was drunkenly singing Megadeth choruses to each other. It starts off weirdly with the opener being ‘Trust’ not the furious thrash opening that I had expected neither was the crunchy ‘In my Darkest Hour’ expected however things get faster for ‘Wake up Dead’ and then we realise that this is a Megadeth greatest hits set, ‘Hanger 18’ attacks us and the newer song ‘Head Crusher’ sounds mental, the song that’s played however seems a little simplistic but that’s just one listen. Dave ends with an apocalyptic version of ‘Holy Wars…’ [8]
             We get into the Bohemia tent in time to catch The Black Dahlia Murder, a band that I haven’t heard much of, despite having a copy of ‘Nocturnal’ on my hard drive, so I go see them out of curiosity. Again I’m not disappointed. The crowd are up for it and so are the band, a great set. [7] and within 10 minutes we’re watching Black Breath, despite tragic sound problems the band don’t seem to care and go ahead in putting on a heavy head-banging shout along show. Unfortunately the sound problems hampered the flow of the set. [7]
            Protest the Hero’s tent is full and there is no chance of getting in, so we watch the end of Slaaaaayer, and move on to watch Rolo Tomassi a controversial choice seeing as their clashing with Metallica, but we’ve made our choice and are proud of it, as the band do pull a strong crowd, and frontwoman, Eva Spence shows more energy on stage than any other front-person I’ve seen today. The crowd are blatantly there for a reason as well and go mental for the band. Especially ‘Party Wounds’ which sees the first tent wide circle pit of the weekend. [8]
          Finally we go to see Metallica, you wouldn’t have guessed that we’d missed half an hour of the set, honestly the band are beyond words, It’s not a flawless performance, but I think that adds to the spectacle, Metal isn’t meant to be mental, it’s meant to just connect to whoever’s listing. And Metallica are connecting with a festival wide set. It’s hard to look back and say ‘I wish they played that’ because what we were given was plenty. And the spot we’re the other bands came on stage, as well as the guy from Diamond Head and Andres Kisser, who had played with Anthrax earlier in the day is a ground shacking and a memorial moment. Just seeing all of them up there was enough, but seeing James and Dave hug really made the moment that extra bit special. I don’t know who the future holds for metal, but Metallica should be an inspiration to anyone to anyone even holding a guitar. [9]

Day Two, Saturday:
            I wake up in pain. I don’t really want to move much today, then I remember who’s playing and suddenly by bones hurt more. Fuck it I get up, willingly pay 5 quid for a burger and sneak a few packets of crisps into the area with me. Lil rebel. Band one of the day While She Sleeps. I am suddenly awake, the band have so much energy, are so connected with each other, and connected with the early 11.30 audience, that they can’t fail. And they don’t, every song sounds huge and closer ‘Crows’ makes me realise this band have got to be the future. [9]
          First band on the main stage for us today are Architects, I love ‘Hollow Crown’ I think it’s a really under rated album and I quiet like the new one, but for me, they’ve never managed to connect with me live, today unfortunately is no different, I know it’s difficult to play as one of the first bands on and I take that into consideration but there are attempts from the audience of the band to get into it. I’m glad to say they only played on slow song today on their set, unfortunately ‘Heartburn’ fails when compared to ‘Hollow Crown’ and the band find it hard to raise the energy levels after the change of pace. [5]
          Oh well. Gallows! Are next, and fuck are the Gallows here. Opening with a huge ‘Misery’ which sees within the opening seconds a guy laid out on the floor, with blood coming out of his mouth. And ‘Leeches’ makes the crowd to ape shit, as does the renamed ‘Knebworth is the Reason’ by now Frank Carter’s told us that he’s leaving the Gallows, an announcement that kills a part of me inside. But instead of morning he wants carnage, and yeah that’s what he gets, there are huge pits, huge chant along moments and the Biggest pit of the weekend as one goes straight around the sound desk. The now emotional final UK festival show of a Frank Carter Lead Gallows is finished with a lethal ‘Orchestra of Wolves’ it’s is going to be sad seeing Carter leave and I wish him the best, same with Gallows and their new frontman, Wade from Alexisonfire. [9]
            The weather changes in time for Cavelera Conspiracy, but it doesn’t matter too much as sitting back with a beer listening to Heavy Metal classics as well as soom great ‘Cav-Con’ tracks and seeing both Cavelera brothers have a hell of a time on stage, even the whole Cavelera family at times are on there, it’s a great show from the guys. [7] Bad Religion are up next, I don’t really know what to expect, I have suffer and I know maybe two songs that aren’t on that album so hear I’ve decided to watch them just because there here, like the Gaslight Anthem at Download it’s a great discussion. The band plays really well with songs full of foot tapping, head- banging catchy choruses and isn’t put off by the little rain. [8]
          We travel down to see Sum 41, which is a mistake, the suns out so you’d have thought that a few polished pop-punk songs would have gone down well. But there’s nothing from the guys. This could have been the re-emergence of the band but they wait until right at the end to play ‘Into Deep’ and ‘Fat Lip’ at which time, people have already given up. [3] By now the rain has come back, it’s never fair when the rain comes, especially on a day where most bands need the sunshine to help get the music across, You Me At Six, another band I don’t really care much for cope admirably with the conditions though, getting the wet crowd moving, I feel their problem is that they have songs, yes they do, but they don’t have enough yet, ‘Underdog’ sounds great and I sing it to myself for the rest of the day. Maybe after the new album they can have a ‘complete’ set of great songs. [7]
            Anticipation is rife, we’ve had 50 minutes of rain followed by the brightest fun of the weekend so far...  and it’s happened because Weezer are here! No? well come what may Weezer just can’t miss and I have no trouble thinking that Rivers Cuomo organized the sun. Either way it’s perfect. The ‘Sweater Song’ and ‘Surf Wax America’ are classic sing along songs and the cover of ‘Teenage Dirtbag’ fits the day perfectly. With the exception of the cover of ‘Paranoid Android’ the entire set is flawlessly great with massive sing along moments and feel good music. Weezer excel without doing more than turning up and with a back catalogue like there’s, you’ve got to have a pretty bad day not to have everyone singing at least one song. [9]
          Finally it is the time for probably the most controversial headline set of the weekend. Biffy Clyro, I supported the decision being a fan of the band and being one of the few bands that I own every physically album of, something that is getting increasingly harder to say. So here it is, here come Biffy how will it go down? Well with a great firework start at the beginning of ‘The Captain’ which even follows a massive ‘Whaooooo’ part from the audience and from one song in, you can tell this is going to be a fabulous set. Everyone knows every word to the new stuff which sounds amazing and the band even shove some old classics in for the old time fans, ‘57’ still sounds epic. Playing the whole of ‘Only Revolutions’ may seem a little risky, but it pays off big time and despite where people first heard the song ‘Many of Horror’ provides the biggest sing along moment of the weekend. Well for 24 hours at least. Biffy has a massive future ahead of them and one day I can see a massive festival where they headline along with Muse. [10]
Day Three, Sunday:
          The final day, sad times but honestly the bands have been something else this year as you can probably tell with the ratings, but there’s no time for the wicked and we wake up a little late and have to run a little to make it in time for Volbeat. I’m sure they start early anyway, but that’s not important what is important is that every band takes not at Volbeat, opening bands should do what Volcbeat do, I don’t quiet know what they do that draws people in but Volbeat even this early in the morning are the best opening band I’ve ever seen, there’s head banging, foot stomping beats with ‘Devil horns’ and Slayer riffs and Jonny Cash shout outs and of course there is Volbeat. [8]
          Next we go and wait for Feed the Rhino. The second time this year we’ve been in the privilege of their presence and the second time they’ve made the ground shake, this time more rapidly, their music is quality and the new stuff sounds awesome I will leave the last words to a man that was roaming round the place at the end of the set. ‘Absolute Pandemonium’ [8] and next up is Parkway Drive! There is excitement, during a tour a few months ago they blew Bring me the Horizon off the stage, and bring me weren’t exactly slouches that night. Can Parkway compare with how good hey were that night? Fuck no, they blow that night away. They are tight and heavy as fuck and every song is played amazingly well and received even better, by the time ‘Boneyards’ is played there is a circle pit going around two guys sitting on deck chairs. ‘Sleepwalker’ sets the place off like no song so far this weekend. ‘Home is for the Heartless’ Is epic and the rubber dingy race is a class idea and set Closer ‘Carrion’ leads to a tirade of crowd surfers, so many that at the end of the set there is no-one left in our area to carry any more. [10]
          So next up is the 2 minutes of Silence for Paul Gray. It is eerie, to say the least and looking around and seeing everyone silent was just a little weird but you could feel the emotion in the arena. Mastodon are up next for me and they play a solid metal set, not many words are said and the music is played well. The songs off ‘Blood Mountain’ shine most but it is a solid set. [7] Next up is Airbourne again another solid performance, Joel O’Keeffe is a crazy frontman, seriously, the last time we saw him he was playing on the railings. This year he is On top of the stage, I mean on top of the actual structure, the man is crazy and more rein the Airbourne for it. [7]
            Sweden have been well represented today and Sweden’s main metal export at the minute, Opeth are here to show what they can do, they have an hour which is a little tragic for them as this means that their set is played by maybe even a quarter. And they aren’t happen, despite that the band are probably the best musicians to play this weekend and the set sounds inch perfect. Unfortunately I don’t think that Opeth are a festival band and their music suits better a closed in area, that said I enjoyed the show. [6]
          I’ve accepted that Limp Bizkit are playing this year and even accepted that I guess I like Limp Bizkit, I would have found it hard to admit before I actually saw this set and sang every word to this off the hook set. I saw every word, my allegiances stop me from singing the chorus to ’Hot Dog’ but you cannot argue with ‘My Generation, Break Stuff or Take A look Around’ and believe me I’ve tried. Even the ridiculous ‘Douchebag’ from the new album brings a smile to my face. And the version of ‘My Way’ takes me on a trip down memory lane. Solid set. [8]
            So now the moment has come, the Return of the former nine, it is the time of Slipknot. There is emotion already, despite the now falling rain people are flocking to see them and standing on stage without a weird being said for what feels like 10 minutes Slipknot are hailed as the current Gods of the metal world. The crowd is weird, there is remorse and sorrow but there is also a feeling of thanks, a feeling of thanking these guys for coming out to play for us tonight, as though for tonight Slipknot are a gift. And tonight they are they present us with a better gift. ‘(sic), Eyeless, Wait and Bleed’ this is how the set starts off, back to the roots and back to the carnage, the crowd are lifted. And are soon singing everything, there’s something speacil about ’Pulse of the Maggots’ here and the chant along choruses of later day Slipknot are bellowed out by Maggots young and old. ‘Duality’ is as you could have guessed something to behold and when the band comeout for the encore people know that they’re going off with a bang. ‘Surfacing’ leaves pretty much half the crowd surfing whilst other just embrace the music. The set ends with the Paul Gray Boiler suit being brought on stage and the tribute to Paul Gray begins, in what feels like hours I see the band literally fall apart on stage whilst there are people around me hugging each other and many, many people collapsing into tears, it is an emotional ending to the set which can be viewed here and I recommend that you do. [9]

          But that would have been a sad way to end the festival so god bless the Cancer Bats, or should I say Bat Sabbath who play a secret set in the tent compromising of Black Sabbath covers played at punk rock speed with the amazing Liam Cormeir doing the vocals in what can only be described as a bin liner cloak and paper mashie cross. Sabbath songs haven’t sounded so alive in years. [8]

Top 5 Bands (So difficult it’s stupid)
5. Lower Than Atlantis
4. Slipknot
3. Gallows
2. Biffy Clyro
1. Parkway Drive

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