Sonisphere Review: Sunday

Image courtesy of Sonisphere
Image courtesy of Sonisphere

By the Sunday of a festival it becomes very easy to spot the day ticket holders.  They lack that feral look in their eye that people living in a field for several days have gained and aren’t that lovely British shade of red we all go when we get a bit too much sun.  They’re also the ones most likely to not be holding their head and groaning.

With that in mind it’s good to see a healthy crowd appear for Gojirawho continue to cement their reputation as one of the best technical metal bands on the planet.  While they come onto stage latem they make sure that it was worth the wait with a crushingly heavy set that blows away any left over cobwebs.  The fact they were late on means I have to miss Dripback and having no interest in Protest the Hero I take a seat and prepare for the arrival of Hevy Devy.  The Devin Townsend Project are far from the heaviest band on this bill and as Devin talks about how he now lives for love and fatherhood it’s hard to relate him to some of his back catalogue.  However, he’s also a man who is just about bonkers enough to pull that shit off and their grandiose, over the top music insures that you can’t help but leave with a smile on your face.

I can’t say I have ever listened to Karnivool but in the sun their proggy set does enough to convince me I am missing out and should get on it sooner rather than later.  A band who don’t require quite as much thought, but do bring the good times are Airbourne.  I leave before the end but I am reliably informed Joel does his usual scaling of the stage.  What I do see sounds great, a nice change after their sound issues at Download last year.  Gallows are a much changed band from the last time they played Sonisphere, which turned out to be one of Franks last shows, and are now completely Carterless.  Wade McNeil has taken on his role with ease however, and they now feel like a much more stripped back, old school hardcore punk band.  It’s unlikely they will ever reach the heights once predicted for them, but this set shows there is life in the old dog yet.  The best part of Reel Big Fish is when their sound cuts out on the right hand side of the stage as I’m walking past and I’m spared listening to them for a few minutes.  I can see why people are enjoying this in the sun, but it is not for me.

Mastodon however are very much up my street and recent festival shows have shown they are managing to remove their reputation as a band that don’t work as well outside.  This was no exception as they plug in and rip through a fantastic set.  With their new album being well received these guys are truly on the up and as one person I camped with suggested, must be odds on for a headlining slot at Bloodstock next year.  Kerbdog are yet another band who are as 90s as you can get and yet you can’t help but smile at how truly grateful they appear to be at the reception they receive.  This might be one of the last things this band ever does and they go out on a high with a set full of good songs and good times.

Following them on Bohemia are The Bronx, who could lay claim to being the best full throttle hardcore band on the planet at the moment.  These guys are relentless and every time I see them they bring that special something to the show.  Matt Caughthran unsurprisingly ends up in the crowd and even if the tent isn’t full, they still manage to unleash chaos for those in attendance.  Therapy?  are another band I have never given enough attention to and in the half hour of their set that I catch I end up admonishing myself further for that.  These are fantastic alternative rock songs and they play to one of the largest crowd I see in Bohemia all weekend.  Meanwhile headlining the second stage is Dream Theater, who now Portnoyless are looking to confirm to people they are still worth loving.  Their most recent album has probably given them some of their most festival friendly material and there is no denying the musicianship on show.  However, I always find I end up respecting this band a lot more than I actually end up liking them.

There isn’t much that can be said about Metallica that hasn’t been said before.  They can be bloody infuriating, yet when they want to they can remind you why you loved them in the first place.  This is one of those nights.  While the On Request idea didn’t end up with any of the rarities long term fans might have hoped for, it did end up with a set of complete classics, apart from new track “Lords of Summer” which is so average it hurts, and you can’t argue when a set opens with “Battery” into “Master of Puppets”.  If you have seen Metallica before there is not going to be much new here to get you excited.  “Whiskey in the Jar” is a nice moment and a good sing along, while I personally hadn’t seen “Fuel” but still have very little time for it as a song except to shout that opening.  Elsewhere they’ve ditched the pyro for a light show and while on the whole it doesn’t matter much, it does leave “One” feeling a little bit bare when it comes to effects.  All in all however you have to be churlish to complain and much like Iron Maiden the night before, Metallica prove that old school is still cool.

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