The 4th of June 2012
The massive touring Sonisphere festival landed in Finland for the fourth time in a row. The first two Sonisphere festivals were arranged on the other side of Finland. For financial reasons the festival was moved to the capital, Helsinki, last year when Slipknot headlined the one-day event with several support acts. Obviously the turn-out at last year’s festival didn’t please the organization and for this year Metallica were recruited to headline. Nearly 50,000 tickets were sold like hot cakes when the line-up of Sonisphere was announced. Besides Metallica, Machine Head, Amorphis, Gojira, Ghost, and finally Hardcore Superstar had been booked to appear at the one-day festival on one stage. Of course, the celebration of Metallica’s multi-million selling BLACK album was the main bait to attract the audience.
Article by Arto Lehtinen and Marko Syrjala
The band Swedish Hardcore Superstar kicked the set off as the first opening band. The sleaze rockers had been booked at the very last minute. Well the Swedes did a good rocking show and performed a typical “Best of” set which is always a good choice for a festival like this. Jock Berg is an excellent front man and he did a hard workout while running across the “Snakepit” for the whole show. Although there wasn’t yet much of a crowd in the venue at that time, the band for sure won some new fans for their side for sure.
The French fusion death metallers Gojira’s stuff is definitely hard to embrace in a big festival environment. The band’s technical fusion extreme metal works much better in a club atmosphere and this performance just left both the band and the crowd cold.
It is widely known that James Hetfield digs the Swedish occult rockers Ghost from the bottom of his heart. Therefore, it wasn’t and unexpected surprise that the hooded group of soulless ghouls had been recruited to Sonisphere. These kinds of massive big festivals with huge stages don’t create the needed and suitable “evil” atmosphere for Ghost. However, the band had updated their wardrobes by leaving the black and had picked up the white instead. The set included all the songs from the debut album OPUS EPONYMOS without any surprises.
The domestic band Amorphis indeed woke the audience up from their coma. It is more than obvious the middle-aged family guy has no clue about these new rising stars like Ghost but they are mostly familiar with these better known bands with their mandatory hits. Amorphis definitely had a great advantage on home soil, as the audience definitely livened up to their songs. The current vocalist Tomi Joutsen has definitely resurrected the band to the new era and the band is now more energetic on stage than ever. The set mostly consisted of the material from the albums released during the era of Joutsen but included also a few selected gems from the past like “In The Beginning” from TALES FROM THE THOUSAND LAKES and “On Rich And Poor” from ELEGY. Overall the band sounded solid and traditional Amorphis, offering no surprises.
Oakland’s metal bulldozers Machine Head have enjoyed a loyal and fanatical following in Finland since their debut album BURN MY EYES saw the light of day in 1994. The four-piece mostly concentrated on stuff off from the latest two albums. The set was kicked off by “I am Hell” and was followed “Unto the Locust”. The band was in damn good strike, but the sounds were kind of out of balance all the time. The bass drum used to dominate leaving guitars to the background. The front man and vocalist Robb Flynn wondered how come 50,000 people were silent and tried to encourage them to raise hell but with no success. In fact, the audience was quite silent and phlegmatic through Machine Head’s performance.
When the mandatory roadie break was over, clips of the legendary “The Good The Bad And The Ugly” movie was shown on the screens. In the wake of clips Metallica hit the stage and unleashed “Hit The Lights” and continued the set by offering the more old school vibe in the beginning when playing songs such as “Master Of Puppets” and “For Whom The Bells Toll”. As it was widely known the whole tour had been built to celebrate the anniversary of the BLACK album released back in 1991 and band now performed the album in its entirely. At first the idea did sound great from fans perspective. You’ll get to hear the majority of bands biggest hits and also rarities when some of those songs have never been played live before. Well, the idea did work… but only halfway. Of course songs like “Enter Sandman” and “Sad But True” always work. Also some of the “rare” stuff like “My Friend Of Misery” and “Don’t Tread On Me” were surprisingly kicking tunes live but unfortunately some of the previously “never played” songs didn’t sound that vital and mind-blowing . For example, it’s quite clear why “The God That Failed” hasn’t been on set list before. And then are all these mandatory ones like “Nothing Else Matters” and “Wherever May I Roam” which are basically all too exhausted and deadly boring to be honest.
Of course the band has aged in a sophisticated way; Kirk Hammet with graying hair, Hetfield’s funny look with his “old school thrash metal vest” and Ulrich behind his kit… well he was still Lars and played with his known drumming “skills””. He did his best for sure. On the stage the band still kicks, although the bigger hunger and passion is all but gone. Getting older has altered the band’s way to please the audience is completely different compared to 20 years ago. When the BLACK album had been finished by “Enter The Sandman”, the set was carried on by the old classic stuff: “Fight Fire With Fire”,”One” and finally “Seek And Destroy”.
Overall this was pretty normal and routine gig from the former thrash metal kings with nothing larger than life here. It must be mentioned that the sounds were occasionally quite bad, but it anyway improved song by song. Things like that didn’t seem to bother the crazy Finnish mainstream audience spelled by these known radio hit tunes. Metallica have succeeded in creating powerful and massive big selling albums including catchy hits but it’s still a bit hard to understand what is so special about the success of Metallica, what makes them so unique and popular amongst the normal rock fans? The most recent albums DEATH MAGNETIC and especially ST. ANGER have been pure letdowns musicwise and it’s actually been over twenty years since band released its last decent album but it’s the buying public who decides, right?
Once again the feedback given by the attendances of the festival was crushing and above all massive negative. People had been standing in huge lines, waiting for the drink and food for hours. Also the collapse of the sanitary system caused an ultimate leak of piss and shit on the ground. Judging by responds and articles published in different places in the internet, people have announced not coming to the festival in the future, so arrangements need to be improved. It is going be interesting to see when and if Sonisphere will arrive at Finland again and which band or bands will be performing there in the future.
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