The first day of this year’s Sonisphere features arguably the most exciting line up in terms of Metal that the UK has ever seen. When thrash metal was at its peak back in the late ’80s and early ’90s there was Clash Of The Titans tour which bought together Slayer, Megadeth, Testament and Suicidal Tendencies, but the big hitters Metallica were absent from the tour. With personal strife between Megadeth’s Dave Mustaine and Metallica seemingly destined to never be resolved the idea that the Big Four might never share the stage again.
However, thanks to a psychiatrist called Dr Phil and some soul searching on the part of the main players in the hairiest of musical soap operas the past seems to have been brushed aside and finally The Big Four are to share a stage in the UK.
Diamond Head, the band that arguably most inspired the Trash movement open proceedings on the main stage but it’s up to Anthrax to really kick things off.
Opening with Caught In A Mosh and Madhouse the band appear in fine fettle, and the return of vocalist Joey Belladonna to the Anthrax fold is vital. His presence means that the despite absence of rhythm guitarist Scott Ian (the man who probably most defines Anthrax) they retain their idiosyncrasies. If things sag somewhat mid set then the closer of I Am The Law is a keen reminder of just what a great band they were.
Megadeth follow and probably have the most to prove. Their every success has seemingly been trumped by Metallica so a storming set here wouldn’t go amiss. Their curious opening gambit of Trust and In My Darkest Hour does little to inspire, but when they hit Wake Up Dead and start to invest more fully in the Speed Metal they’re better known for they finally hit their stride. Peace Sells and Holy Wars are mind blowing, as are the guitar heroics of Mustaine and Chris Broderick. It’s a strong ending, but in all truth not the most thrilling of sets.
Slayer have never ventured far from the path of all out sonic attack, and it’s probably for this reason that even after all of these years they’re still one of the most well respected Metal bands of all time. Then there’s the utter brutality of their songs, and today’s set is crammed full of them. South Of Heaven, Reign In Blood, War Ensemble and Angel Of Death are thoroughly visceral, they’re like a kind of psychic enema blowing the shit out of your ears for a good 40 minutes.
Metallica wrap things up in style as expected. They are a behemoth of a band with a plethora of monumental songs to pick from. Fortunately they choose to keep things relatively nostalgic, eschewing later material in favour of some older classics. Opening with the chaotic blast of Hit The Lights, they also find time for gentler numbers such as Call Of Ktulu and Fade To Black, before pummelling through Blackened and One.
They call the rest of The Big Four back on stage for an amiable run through of Diamond Head’s Am I Evil? Before finally calling things to a close with a frantic Creeping Death, it’s a perfect end to an historic day.