Preview: Sonisphere 2011

01 June 2011

With the festival season reaching something of a frenzy at this time of year, anyone attending an open air event has one eye on the heavens and is praying for godlike shafts of light to bless their weekend. Mud and wellies really aren’t as much fun as those hilarious Glaso photo opportunities might have you believe particularly over the course of three days.

Those who worship at a different altar are more likely to be having a word with the chap downstairs to provide a sizeable dollop of the devil’s own heat for Sonisphere UK. With Monsters Of Rock now retooled as Download providing the only real (and some might say, slightly disappointing) competition, a quick look at this year’s Sonisphere line up goes someway to proving that this is the Metal festival to be at in 2011.

Sonisphere’s main coup is to bring together the Big Four namely Metallica, Megadeth, Slayer and Anthrax. It’ll be the first time these titans of the ’80s thrash boom have performed on the same bill in this country and considering the almost soap-opera styled back story between the bands (it’s too convoluted to go into here) it’s an amazing feat to have all four bands in the same country, let alone share the same stage. In terms of Metal, it’s an historic event. Only the omissions of Exodus and Testament prevent Friday being a Thrash Metal Grand Slam.

To borrow a sporting term, Sonisphere isn’t just about the Big Four; there’s a raft of talent spread across the weekend. Biffy Clyro headline the Apollo stage on Saturday, while Slipknot appear on the Sunday their first UK gig since the passing of bassist Paul Gray. Mastodon, a band who’ve taken on board the Metallica template and consistently twisted it into something quite stunning, also make a welcome appearance, as do Lemmy, his wart and Motorhead. No doubt they’ll have everything louder than anyone else.

Elsewhere there’s Goth nostalgia from The Sisters Of Mercy, Prog indulgence from The Mars Volta, punk from Bad Religion, Stoner goodness courtesy of Orange Goblin and onstage carnage from the quite amazing Pulled Apart By Horses.

If all of that is a bit too much, then there’s always a bit of respite to be found in the likes of bluegrass jokers Hayseed Dixie or the twee indie punk tunes of Weezer. And of course there’s always the comedy tent and Sean Hughes, Jared Christmas and erSteve O to take your mind off the inevitable snakebite induced hangover.

There’s so much going on at Sonisphere this year that even those that truly fear Metal will find something to bang their head to.

Sonisphere takes place from 8-10 July 2011 at Knebworth. Tickets and further information are available from Sonisphere’s website.

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