It was the day that Thrash Metal came home. The Big Four, barely a grain on the populist conscience when they were at their collective might, showed Sonisphere Festival why a decade of momentous work in the 1980s changed the rock landscape forever.
Even Tom Araya, Slayer‘s usually intense vocalist, called the day a love-in at one point, looking out at the tens of thousands of thrash fans flocked to their presence with un-Slayer-like sentiment. “This is a love song,” Araya said, seemingly touched by the adoration coming from the crowd, before launching into the brutal ‘Dead Skin Mask‘; the swirling moshpits below replicating the feeling by knocking several layers of hell out of each other.
Anthrax didn’t so much encourage moshing as write an ode to it, on the seminal Among the Loving. Backed by the cover of that record staring down at them, they launched into ‘Caught in a Mosh‘, setting the first few hundred rows of the crowd into a frenzied momentum that would carry itself through to the end of Metallica‘s set.
The same can’t be said for Megadeth however. Playing above Anthrax, they killed the riotous mood that Frank Bello and co had created, with a plodding and grinding set. There were people at the back of the field fidgeting in their chairs, oblivious to the Keane-does-thrash Dave Mustaine‘s band were running through.
Metallica had no such worries. Their set was heavy with defining moments; a typically pyro-heavy ‘One‘, followed by a deafening ‘For Whom the Bell Tolls‘, followed by a rousing ‘Blackened‘. They brought on Anthrax, Slayer, Megadeth and Diamond Head – who had opened the Apollo Stage – for the by-now obligatory cover of Diamond Head‘s ‘Am I Evil‘. But then they still saw fit to finish with a double blow of ‘Battery‘ and ‘Creeping Death‘, the crowd repeating Creeping Death’s “Die! Die! Die” chorus long after Metallica left the stage.
Biffy Clyro play their largest headline festival show to-date at Sonisphere 2011 tonight, with Weezer, The Mars Volta and Richard Cheese also play later today at the festival. Gallows will play one of their last shows with favoured ginger vocalist Frank Carter after he announced yesterday his departure from the band as of August 1.