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Sonisphere Festival UK 2011

The hallowed turf of Knebworth park is to be trodden and sodden once again, as Sonisphere 2011 is upon us!


Review by Danny Draper

Photos by Michelle Murphy Michelle Murphy Photography

Unfortunately we weren’t issued with full photo-pass but our photographer was able to get some great shots of the crowd, which make up the amazing atmosphere of Sonisphere!

The line up this year promises a lot for metal fans; as long as we excuse the Saturday!



Here we go, The Big Four are finally here! Let’s get down to some serious headbanging!


Due to the Group4 staff at the site changing the entrance on a whim, we missed the mighty Anthrax! Luckily caught the end of their set and they were on good form and playing here without Scott Ian who sadly departed the band X amount of months ago. They also had one of the highest boob counts of the festival; A great way to start!


Megadeth came out next; they played an extremely well rounded set featuring classics new and old like In My Darkest Hour and Head Crusher, which has honestly got to be one of the best intro licks ever written! They announced after that song that they had a title for the new album “Thirteen” and that they would play a new song, Public Enemy No.1 which was a risky menover playing a new song, but it went down well and pleased the crowd. They finshed off with A Tout Le Monde, the epic Symphony of Destruction, Peace Sells and the immortal Holy Wars.

Impressive work and sadly we’re two bands through already.


Slayer on the other hand, bring the pain! Opening with Disciple followed swiftly by a bludgeoning War Ensemble, I can say that hands down, this is the best performance I’ve seen from Slayer in a long time, and Jeff isn’t even here! Gary Holt from Exodus is manning is station and played extremely well, combining with Kerry and generally playing brilliantly. Tom’s vocals also sounded amazing, maybe due to the fact that he’s unable to headbang now has opened up the opportunity for a better sounding set from his vocals. Ditto Head flies by with a typically eerie rendition of Dead Skin Mask. They finish with a four song madness of South of Heaven, Raining Blood that slips effortlessly into the classic Black Magic (just like they used to do) and into the eternally awesomeness that is Angel of Death; Stunning.


Once again, the biggest heavy metal band in the world, roll into town and captivate us all!

Due to the nature of the Big Four fan-fair, there are only two songs that aren’t from the eighties! The rest is from what fans would cite as their best work from the first four albums. Opening with Hit the Lights, it sends everyone a little bit mental! It’s a quick fire burst into The Shortest Straw from Justice (which hadn’t been played here in twenty one years) and a very fire-y Seek and Destroy, the pyro for this is epic!


The band disperse and Kirk plays a little ditty before they launch into the eerie Welcome Home (Sanitarium) and then they treat us with the classic Ride the Lightening that is electric! They’re playing well this evening, on good form and looking well. Then comes one of the magical events that Metallica produce, they play The Memory Remains, albeit with some different lyrics as James must have gotten them muddled!

Then come the end the entire crowd is singing Marianne Faithfuls vocal line “Daa da da daa, Daa daa daa”, it’s truly an amazing moment with a crowd of maybe 60,000 singing the melody while the band stand shellshocked at the response, it must go on a full three minutes. Then they disappear and they unleash one of their best new songs “All Nightmare Long” which is probably the favourite of most of us here!

Things then get a little bit heavy as they unleash Sad But True, this classic stomper has everyone chanting and singing to the droney beat riff. We then are treated to a bass solo from the mighty man Rob Trujillo. It’s a great bass solo and is filled with funk and flamenco that has helped to reinvigorate Metallica’s sound.

Then a personal favourite moment of mine, The Call of Ktulu, being played for the first time in the UK since the album was released in 1984! The ever present staple of One with full on pyro was majestic and the guys are still full of energy tonight, showing no signs that they are aging.

They close their set with the immortal Blackened, Fade to Black and Enter Sandman.

Then comes the moment that we’ve been waiting to see!

After seeing it so much online and in the music press, we finally get to see the Big Four Band play Diamond Heads Am I Evil! They have a special guest in Brian Tattler who steps up to play the lead lick into the legendary riff that builds the song! Joining them as well on stage is guitarist Andres Kisser! Metallica then resume proceedings and blast through Battery and Creeping Death, but not before having a bug fly into his mouth before saying good bye to us and Friday night!



I missed these lads last year and it meant that I had to be at the main stage at the unholy hour of 11am to check them out but I’m glad that I did. They played some new stuff off their latest album …. And it sounded great! Singer… said that he was blown away to be playing the same stage and standing in the same spot that James Hetfield was standing in less than twelve hours ago! They sadly missed the gig and made up for it with a vigorous show of technicality and songwriting talent. Although they had a few technical hitches, this performance reminded me of Trivium when they played Download 2005 very early in the day and had a massive turnout. I would say that they had a nearly equal amount of people who were hardcore enough to get up after a thrilling night of partying and drinking the night before. These guys are no pretenders to that crown, they’re following will only grow.

Richard Cheese and Lounge Against the Machine

What an amazing show! This guy really brought the swing! Let’s set out what Richard Cheese does if no one knows: Lounge music covers of popular songs. It’s brilliant, they’re primarily known for their version of Down with the Sickness which was featured as the shopping mall music on the recent remake of Dawn of the Dead. But they covered some classic songs like Another Brick in the Wall, You Shook me all Night Long, Buddy Holly and Creep.


As well as covering some more pop music stuff like Gin and Juice and Boom Boom Pow, he captivates the crowd, wooing a woman in the process. His character and light comedy is perfect on this lovely sunny day here at Knebworth. They had a massive crowd which would have been big enough for any headliner and it was only on the Saturn Stage!

In Flames

Inflames are an amazing band and dedicate Trigger to P.Gray. They’ve come on ten minutes late but everything went very well after that. They had the best sounding drums so far. New single Deliver us from Sounds of a Playground Theme was brilliant, but not as heavy as their previous work. They also played The Hive from Oracle. Impressive set and a great performance from the Swedish legends but it came and went and didn’t really last long in my memory. It wasn’t that they played terrible; I think like Arch Enemy they just didn’t get the right amount of time.


On form, and a paramount performances, they played the best I’ve heard. They brought out a quite varied festival set with Iron Tusk and March of the Fire Ants being the first downtrodden sludgers to appear! Accompanying them were Where Strides the Behemoth and Mother Puncher before the mental melee of Circle of Cysquatch, Aqua Dementia and the post metal mastery of Crack the Skye. They followed with the Ghost of Karelia which is akin to following track Sleeping Giant in it’s stoner like feel. Troy and Branns vocals were pitch perfect and brents have improved a lot! Very tight performance, these guys are getting better and better! They go down well with the festival and when they play tracks like Crack the Skye it shows how much creativity that they can create within one five minute space. Typically they finish with Colony of Birchmen and Blood and Thunder which pleases the crowd and brings  a rocking performance to a perfect end.


The anticipation of seeing the greatest rock and roll band in the world was marred slightly by the first words Lemmy spoke to use. He told us that in the early hours of Saturday morning former Motorhead guitarist Wurzel had passed away from a heart disease.


Clearly affected by this Lemmy dedicates the set and the rest of their lives to Wurzel. It’s a riveting performance and for a lot of people, even thirty five years on, its their first Motorhead show. Opening with Iron fist and keeping a steady pace throughout classics like Stay Clean and the Chase is Better than the Catch.

They did start of slow but who’s complaining when you’re getting the chance to dance along and nod your head to some simple and classic heavy rock n roll. New song Get Back in Line and the slow pulsating Metropolis where Lemmy chants “I don’t care!” echo throughout the crowd.

Phil Campell also had some excellent guitar straps with one saying Lord Axesmith and the other saying Flash Wanker! We were treated to an upbeat and vibrant going to Brazil with the traditional ending of Killed by Death, Ace of Spades and the immortal Overkill. A great show by THE greatest rock and roll band on the planet!


Opeth’s showing here was an awesome addition to the bill and they play a fairly typical festival set. Especially by walking on and saying “Hello Donnington”. They open with Ghost Reveries track The Grand Conjuration which is probably their most well known for passing fans.

They also play a couple of more milder tracks probably in preparation for their latest and most progressive album Heritage. The soft jazz stylings of Face of Melinda are resonating through the air through the rain, which probably helped set the mood for the music! The blast beats of the Lotus Eater come and sends the ground into a bit of a frenzy but in all fairness from where I was standing the sound was terrible, the sound man should have pulled his ear plugs out!

They finish with a double header of the imperial Masters Apprentices and the mellow Hex Omega. A rather special show, with Mikael joking by announcing Opeth are from Swizerland and saying that he does more than eat chocolate. He claims he is a clock maker and hence his good timing! Funny joke but not as funny as when everyone is asked to silent headbang which is a sight to behold, check it out on youtube!.


This was always going to be a special show for them.

They’ve returned to England minus number 2 and they held a two minute silence earlier, but now it’s time for noise. As Corey Taylor said “This is not about commiseration, it’s about celebration” as (sic) roars into life. Being England, it’s pissing down with rain, but that isn’t going to dampen any spirits tonight.

The set is filled with the best of the best from this band crossing over all of the albums. The show is amazing, with pyro going off all over the place, this is the Slipknot show, dangerous and unhinged. They quite easily piss over most of the bands this weekend in terms of steely eye intensity.


I think the moments that will stand out is the Frail Limb Nursery piece in the middle of the set, paired with a brutal rendition of The Heretic Anthem followed on by one of the biggest sing alongs of the weekend with Duality. Typically, we all hit the deck for probably one of the biggest jumps ever done for Spit it Out.

They return for an encore of People = Shit and our new national anthem Surfacing. At the end, Paul’s Bass, boiler suit and mask were brought to centre stage while the band took photo’s. It was amazing the witness this set, something that when you’re old and people ask you about amazing shows you’ve seen, this one will be right up there if you were lucky enough to have stood in the pouring rain at Sonisphere 2011 to see our generations craziest band.

All in all, Sonisphere was a great festival; once again the people and the music make it one of the best. Having a grand selection of comics, spoken word, acoustic and metal karaoke really does make it one of the best.

Let’s hopefully see more Metal next time and more beer!