Sonisphere 2010: Day Two review

After a relatively relaxed first day, things got into top gear on Saturday, 31st July at Fort Knebworth. Here’s how it went down.

Swedish power metal to start your day? Yes, please! Sabaton (8) are majestically epic, playing a thoroughly enjoyable set with a fervour that wakes up any who might have been feeling the after-effects of the previous night. Frontman Joakim Broden also provides us with the comment of the weekend: “All power tunes is based in the H O M O”. He said it, not me…

From power metal melodies to thrash metal shreds, Evile (8) take on all comers and put them to the sword with a ruthless and energetic set that shows just why they will outlive the inevitable demise of the thrash-revivalist movement. Playing cuts from both their albums, the Huddersfield hulks are nothing if not supremely confident, and genuinely appear to be having a fun time. Of course, confidence is something a certain Max Cavalera does not lack, and he brings all of his abrasive musical genius to the fans with Soulfly (8), playing older hits like ‘Prophecy’ and ‘Back To The Primitive’ alongside a few newer headbangers and the customary Sepultura covers. Clutching his Brazilian flag embossed guitar (what else?), Cavalera is another man who prefers to power through songs and let his music do the talking – and boy is it impressive.

If one band has provided us with a soap-opera style saga over the last year it has been Anthrax (9). After a succession of vocalists (three in the last 12 months) and a very public falling out with Dan Nelson – with whom they also recorded a full album before parting ways – they’ve decided to stick with the tried and tested Joey Belladonna. Maybe it was the comfort of having an old friend back in the fold, maybe it was the nostalgia factor, but either way the legends rocked, jumped, moshed, headbanged and, of course, thrashed their way through a best-of set. ‘Anitsocial’, ‘Madhouse’, ‘Got The Time’, they’re all there and they’ve hardly ever sounded this good. Neither, for that matter, have Fear Factory (8). Burton C Bell’s clean vocals can still be a bit hit-and-miss, but aside from that there’s no stopping the man-machine symbiote, with Dino Cazares’ inhumanly precise riffing and Gene Hoglan’s ridiculously metronomic beats a pure delight to behold live.

Love ’em or hate ’em, Papa Roach (8) know how to entertain. Not surprisingly then, the nu-metal turned hard rock outfit put on a very strong set where frontman Jacoby Shaddix probably spends more time off his feet than on them. The hidden gem of the day comes in the form of Kellermensch (7), who are probably best described as a darker version of Diablo Swing Orchestra. Playing everything from a violin to cello to a more traditional electric guitar, their music completely defies classification. Even more notable is the impassioned performance, which really set a dark tone to proceedings despite the bright sunlight. Definitely worth another look.

Malefice (7) have already begun looking at their next album, as they revealed earlier, and by all indications it will be a barnstormer. There must be something in the water at Reading that makes you rage uncontrollably because there’s a tremendous amount of it on display here. ‘Sickened’ and ‘Hatred Justified’ were absolute joys to watch, and we await newer material with baited breath. Bleed From Within (7), too, are all about untamed power and they’re not doing too bad for themselves. Any band that can make a tiny stage look like it’s a mile long is destined for bigger things, and even though the Glaswegians aren’t quite as good today as we know they can be, it’s still a strong show from a bunch of rising stars.

“We are Earthtone9 and we’re from the nineties!” screams vocalist Karl Middleton to grins from the crowd. They might be from the last decade, but the Nottingham fivesome still sound vital and fresh today. Sure, it wasn’t the tightest set, but given that they’ve reunited after nearly a decade off I think we can cut Earthtone9 (7) some slack and focus on the groovy, headbang-fest riffs and an incredible larynx-shredding showing from Middleton. Every bit as entertaining, and then some, are punks Gallows (9). It’s been said a thousand times before and it needs to be said a thousand times again – these guys are a sight to be seen live. Who else can deliver a circle pit that literally extends outside of the tent they’re playing in, before frontman Frank Carter crowdsurfs from the stage to the soundboard and back during ‘In The Belly Of A Shark’. Haven’t seen them live yet? Shame on you.

And so, to the little matter involving a German sextet that choose to call themselves Rammstein (10). Their live performance is as much a West End show as it is a metal gig. We all know they lean toward the grand, but it’s still an incredible sight to watch this multi-ton metal juggernaut in action, though oddly enough one of the highlights has nothing to do with big-money production. Keyboard player ‘Flake’ Lorenz decided to go crowdsurfing on an inflatable raft for some reason, and along the way he picked up a fan’s hat, a Union Jack and a stowaway (unceremoniously thrown overboard) before making it back to the stage and doing a jig that makes him look like he was having a fit!

The pyro, of course, was an ever-present fixture. It’s a wonder how they didn’t burn down the stage or any fans, though they did try their best, like when a ‘fan’ ran on stage and was immediately set afire by vocalist Till Lindermann. He also used a giant phallus-shaped apparatus to spew white foam all over the unsuspecting crowd during Pussy, so he’s clearly lost none of his love for the sexual imagery we saw on ‘Live Aus Berlin’.

Sonisphere 2010 was about Iron Maiden’s homecoming, but the Germans, for our money, upstaged the legends. Whatever you think of their tunes, you won’t find a better live band on the planet today.

Read the review of Day One and Day Three, as well as the fans verdict and Sonisphere top five


About Abhijeet Ahluwalia

Abhijeet Ahluwalia – I’m a freelance journalist who goes back and forth between London and Bombay. A huge metalhead, but I have an eclectic taste, from reggae to punk. Oh, and Manchester United are the greatest team in the world. Follow me on Twitter or drop me a line via Email.

One Response to “Sonisphere 2010: Day Two review”

  1. Have to agree about Rammstein, there is NOBODY to match them. Iron Maiden looked very old by comparison.

    Papa Roach were certainly a surprise hit. Terrific performance!