After recovering from a very late night following on from dancing the night away with The Prodigy and beyond, team Rock Sins geared up for the second day of festivities for Sonisphere 2014 at Knebworth Park. If you missed the first part of our Sonisphere Knebworth 2014 review covering the Friday (including Limp Bizkit, Anthrax, The Prodigy and many more) then you can check it out here. Kicking things off early on Saturday was a double dose of home-grown metal, so without anything more from us, onto the music….
Opening the show to a massive crowd of hung over metal heads we have the glorious tech metal kings TesseracT (7). With the return of new/old vocalist Daniel Tompkins taking place literally days before, the band can’t have had much time to rehearse, but you couldn’t tell from their stunning performance today. The band focused on their début release Concealing the Fate, saving Acceptance for last, after playing Deception, The Impossible, Perfection and Epiphany, followed by April from their Perspective EP. Great set all round with pitch perfect vocals and screams and blistering prog guitar riffage from Kahney and Monteith.
Hang the Bastard (7) get Saturday stripping heaviness down to its bare basics; the riffs. Sounding monstrous, yet compellingly simple Hang the Bastard are the perfect way to get going for the day. With airings of songs from their forthcoming new album Sex In The Seventh Circle like the riff-tastic title track and previous single Sweet Mother, big things are coming from Hang The Bastard in the second half of 2014.
Babymetal (8) had a lot of hype leading up to Sonisphere with many saying a band like that shouldn’t be on the bill. Babymetal blew us away with their heavy riffage, if it wasn’t for the girls fronting the band I could have sworn it was Slipknot or Machine Head on stage. The girls dressed in their punk lolita style outfits of red and black and choreographed intricate routines into each song which saw fans start pits, and mosh like it was going out of fashion. Babymetal simply blew us away as a whole, and with songs like Megitsune and Gimme chocolate!! Their fan base has grown massively today.
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Ghost (9) are a band who have to be seen live to truly appreciate. The atmosphere and setting today is perfect as the troop of nameless ghouls invade the stage. It may be cloudy and glum, but this is the perfect environment to worship at the altar of Ghost. Bashing out tracks such as ‘Year Zero’, ‘Prime Mover’ and ‘Stand By Him’ the crowd are moshing and circle pits open up all over the place.
The Hell (7) deliver their djent influenced metalcore with enough of a knowing nod at their detractors to remain entertaining. Although its noticeable they’ve cut down on the jokes in the last six months it’s still an extremely entertaining set with one of the bands masked frontmen even leaping into the crowd to be attacked by audience members wielding inflatable hammers before crowd surfing out of the tent.
One of the best things about festivals is discovering your new favourite music. Such can be said for “supergroup” The Winery Dogs (9). Prior to Sonisphere we didn’t know much about the band, but now we can’t stop listening to them. Featuring Mike Portnoy (ex Dream Theatre), Billy Sheehan (Mr. Big) and Richie Kotzen (ex Poison), this is a group dripping with talent. Their songs are catchy, their drums thumping, their bass magnificent and their vocals are so smooth they could melt chocolate. Definitely our new favourite band.
Anthrax (7) are good, but not the world-beating triumph of their Among the Living set the night before. If you’ve seen Anthrax at a festival in the past five years, then that’s pretty much what you get. Sure, it’s fun to run in circles to ‘Indians’ (again) but wouldn’t it be great to have a longer headline tour at some point?
After sporadic rain had failed to dampen spirits Scouse death metal mob Carcass (9) brought some old school thunder to Knebworth. Opening with brutal classic “Coporal Jigsore Quandary” they stormed through a short set, dedicating “Unfit For Human Consumption” to the site’s burger sellers! At the finale original drummer Ken Owen, who suffered a life-changing brain haemorrhage in 1999, sat behind the kit to huge and emotional cheers. Legends.
Deftones (7) are frustrating too. When they’re ramping up the heaviness with tunes like ‘My Own Summer,’ ‘Swerve City’ and a rare airing of ‘Headup’ its genuinely brilliant. Unfortunately Chino straps on that extra guitar for the slower moments a little too often in their hour set which stops the momentum that’s so vital to a shorter hour-long set.
Slayer (9) have no such problems. Probably because they don’t have any slow songs. It’s an hour-long battery of some of thrash metal’s all-time classics, opening with ‘Hell Awaits,’ closing with ‘Angel of Death’ and throwing ‘South of Heaven,’ ‘Dead Skin Mask,’ War Ensemble,’ and the genre defining ‘Raining Blood’ somewhere in-between. Sure there’s not the physical intensity of the Slayer of yesteryear but they can still play the classics with nailbomb precision and, unlike their Bloodstock performance last year they don’t take three or four songs to hit their stride. This is the best you’ll ever see Slayer in 2014.
After Slayer, The Lounge Kittens (7) are a completely refreshing change of pace. Fresh from performing at Glastonbury last week, these are 3 kitties who have got the cream. The ladies put on a stunning performance, including their versions of ‘The Middle’, ‘The Beautiful People’, ‘Last Resort’ and of course ‘Rollin’. Their ‘Sonisphere Mash Up’ features covers from numerous artists playing over the weekend and brings the house down. The Lounge Kittens bring a lot of fun to their act (T-Rexian wave anyone?), but also have a unique charisma that let’s them push the Sonisphere boundaries. We never thought we’d see the day when a thousand metal heads sang along with a Backstreet Boys cover! Well done girls!
We were really excited for Bruce Dickinsons Dogfight (5), after all it’s not every day you see a troop of military fighters perform in the skies above you. Sadly though the reality is quite the letdown, and the novelty soon wears off. The planes are much too far away and instead of soaring overhead they perform in the distance. Not what we were hoping for, which is a pity because we were looking forward to it.
Slayer are, of course an intimidating band for anyone to follow. Anyone that is, except for a band of Iron Maiden’s (10) stature within heavy metal. The British six-piece deliver a set that is nothing but triumphant. Over thirty year’s worth of timeless anthems means Maiden have plenty in their arsenal and they do nothing but deliver them with gusto. ‘The trooper’ running into ‘Number of the Beast’ which, in turn is followed up by ‘Phantom of the Opera’ which is followed b- you get the picture. Besides the brilliant setlist there’s also the additional theatrics integral to any Iron Maiden performance. Number of the Beast and Phantom of the Opera both see plenty of firepower but it’s for ‘Seventh Son of a Seventh Son’ that the real big guns are saved for with the performance becoming more akin to a West End musical than a heavy metal show. It speaks volumes that Iron Maiden can remain such a tight, and genuinely excellent live band so far into their career. Astonishing.
Iron Maiden putting on a show in true Maiden style.
Annnnddddd just when we thought the night was over, we were in for a surprise. Maybe this should be the first review for Sunday morning, but at midnight we were treated to a secret performance from Raging Speedhorn (10) in the Guest Bar. There may only be time for a few songs, but the astonishing reaction from the jubilant crowd has us foaming at the mouth in excitement for tomorrow.*
*Not really, in fact we got smacked in the pit which may account for the foaming, but we were still bloody excited!
Written by Lisa Fox, Neil Skoglund, James Halstead, Nicholas Holmes