As Gojira walked onto the stage there was still a roadie drilling screws into the stage in a frantic hurry. Gojira have been touring on the back of L’Enfant Sauvage for almost two solid years and they were tighter than a ducks arse. Crushing riffs, brutal vocals and pummelling backbeats, they were possibly one of the heaviest and most exciting bands of the whole weekend. Bassist Labadie, was a whirlwind of energy as Joe and Christian whipped the crowd into a head banging fury. They dedicated the song ‘The Heaviest Matter in the Universe’ to all Death Metal fans and paid respect to the legacy that Death left us. Gojira were superb and we are anxiously awaiting the next album and their forthcoming tour with Mastodon.
With Sunday’s schedule running late, Dripback over on the Jagermeister stage suffered an inconvenient clash with French death metallers Gojira, leaving the Jager tent with a smaller than expected turn out. Despite this, Dripback gave it their all and played as passionately to the hand full of people as they did to a completely packed out tent at last year’s Bloodstock festival. The Hardcore five piece oozed energy from entry to exit with bassist, Adam’s, on stage mannerisms resembling that of Robert Trujillo and the band’s front man having a similar stage presence to that of Barney of Napalm Death.
Day three for PlanetMosh on the Bohemia stage began with The Cadillac Three. This was a band I had heard good things about and was determined to catch their performance and in hindsight I was not disappointed. Their brand of southern laid back rock was the perfect anecdote for a Sunday morning. The Nashville trio were in fine fettle and gave us a set of stonking grooves soaked in bourbon. They rounded off ‘Tennessee Mojo’ by paying tribute to the evening’s headliners with the riff of ‘Enter Sandman’. For a band with no bassist, these guys make a heavy racket and frontman Jaren Johnston, told us “This is where I was Born, this is where I’ll die. This is ‘The South’”. The Cadillac Three were breath of fresh air at a metal dominated festival.
Following The Cadillac Three on Bohemia were Swedish stoner rockers Truckfighters. It was hardly surprising to see a packed out tent for the three piece and their classic rock stomp and nonstop energy. Inanimate is not a word in this band’s vocabulary as guitarist Niklas Källgren could be described as Animal (muppet) on guitar; spending the majority of the performance in the air than with his feet on the ground. For the closure of the set, bassist and singer, Oskar Cedermalm, jumped down from the stage to crowd level handing his bass to the audience for some strumming action. A truly enjoyable foot tapping performance and a band to look out for on tour.
In the Australian segment of the day Karnivool closed their European tour on the Saturn stage. Their progressive metal can be a little lost in a large arena but those gathered in the immediate vicinity were soaking up every note. At one stage singer Ian Kenney lets us know that he just swallowed a fly and can’t explain what it tasted like. Someone in the crowd shouted “Tuborg”. Their show was clinical and enjoyable although probably more suited to one of the large tented areas.
In complete contrast, their fellow countrymen Airbourne gave their usual 200% performance. They were the equivalent of 4 cyclones spinning across the stage. Joel O’Keefe raised and glass and asked the crowd to join him in a salute to fallen hero, Rik Mayall. The maelstrom included a ripping ‘Cheap Wine and Cheaper Women’, a stonking ‘Black Dog Barking’ and a beer bashing ‘Girls in Black’. During GIB, Joel did his usual scaffold climb and tore out a solo much to the amusement of all gathered. This was Airbourne and they are the embodiment of Rock and Fucking Roll.
Reel Big Fish were swathed in sunshine for their Saturn appearance. They are the perfect festival band for a sunny day and were not a disappointment with their happy, abusive, horn-lead ska punk. Their anthems were lapped up graciously by the sunkissed multitudes and songs like ‘Another F.U. Song’, ‘I want your girlfriend to be my girlfriend’, ‘Everyone is an Asshole’ and ‘Sell Out’ really set the tempo for a super Sunday. They finished us off with their version of ‘Take On Me’ which brought the surfers and dancers out from under their parasols.
Where the main stages were having an Australian moment or two, the Bohemia stage was swathed in emerald. One of Ireland’s most underrated metal bands of the 90’s, Kerbdog were a welcome addition to the Bohemia lineup. Recently reunited with original guitarist Billy Dalton, Cormac Battle and his Kilkenny cohorts were on fire. Battle addressed the crowd from the off with “Ok you fucking cunts, let’s rock” and launched into ‘On The Turn’. After ‘Mexican Wave’ the crowd were in fine voice as they chanted the band name and Battle replied “That’s better than sex”. This was the dog’s first UK festival appearance in a decade and they fed off the enthusiasm. They closed with the crushing ‘End of Green’ followed by ‘Sally’ and ‘JJ’s Song’ and Sonisphere was a much better festival because of them. They have a new live album due this year, but we can’t wait to hear some new material.
I caught Chiodos due to the Beastmilk set being postponed and was very happy I did. Michigan’s bruisers flew over from the States specifically for the Sonisphere show and front man Craig Owens enthused that this was “The best show of the year”. His banter was great and their focused post hardcore stomped all over the front rows of Bohemia. They were touring the new album ‘Devil’ and Owens told people to buy, steal, download it, whatever it took once you heard the message. Their breakdown heavy, punk filled brutality was a great surprise on the Sunday and the song ‘3am’ was a beast live.
With Mastodon on the Apollo stage and Dropkick Murphys about to start at the opposite end of the field, I left Mastodon’s fairly inanimate performance for something quite the opposite. From bursting into the set with ‘The Boys Are Back’, Dropkick Murphys had the entire audience moving throughout the 45 minute show, including a little jig themselves for ‘Prisoner’s song’. Even with the slower ‘Rose Tattoo’ mixed into the setlist the crowd and band were still on fire but for those whose flames died down just a smidgen, ‘Out of Our Heads’ and ACDC’s ‘Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap’ soon reignited the energy. With everyone warmed up and their best Irish jigging almost perfected, Dropkick Murphys closed their explosive set with one of their most well known songs – ‘Shipping Up To Boston’.
4 years ago, Therapy? were in town to play ‘Troublegum’ in its entirety and this year it was the turn of 95’s ‘Infernal Love’. One of the 90’s most overlooked albums; it was such a contrast to the aforementioned Troublegum that many lost touch with the band. Today Andy Cairns and Michael McKeegan took to the front of the stage and smashed the sheer joy of ‘Stories’ in our faces. Never a band to shy away, they were sensational this evening and when they played ‘Me Vs You’, ‘Loose’ and the sinister ‘Diane’, the packed to capacity tent voiced their appreciation. Potato Junkie is always one of the best sing-alongs EVER, and the crowd bellowed the hook of “James Joyce is fucking my sister” before the lads closed with the explosive ‘Screamager’. Therapy? were kings of Bohemia on day three.
After three cracking days it was time for the moment I’d been waiting for the entire weekend – Sunday headliners and Apollo closers – Metallica! This evening’s set list was a completely fan voted selection including an on-the-day vote between ‘The Four Horsemen’, ‘Wherever I May Roam’ and ‘…And Justice For All’. Before the band hit the stage the audience were greeted with a video from the boys in Metallica displaying the current vote figures for the three songs on offer. Fans frantically texted to vote, sending the figures flying all over. Popular votes between ‘The Four Horsemen’ and ‘…And Justice For All’ seesawed as more and more votes came in. With the crowd already raring to go, the legendary ‘Ecstasy of Gold’ intro featuring the late Eli Wallach (The Good, The Bad and The Ugly) lit the screens and powered a massive roar from the audience. The band wasted no time jumping straight into ‘Battery’ followed by the most popular vote ‘Master of Puppets’. After a trio of Master of Puppets tracks and title song from the band’s 1984 album Ride The Lightning, the pace was changed with power ballad, ‘The Unforgiven’. Mixing up the set, the band had invited fans to introduce a couple of songs for the evening. Kate (from London) introduced ‘Sad But true’ while the second fan (initially being booed for wearing sunglasses after sundown) introduced the second song asking the crowd “do you want heavy”. With a confirming roar from the audience, ‘Blackened’ was announced. Metallica’s usual pyros this evening were left behind and replaced with an equally as satisfying laser light show, but if we’re being completely honest here, lasers don’t have as good effect as fireworks for ‘One’. With one final blast of Black album favourites the band left the stage but shortly returned for an encore with ‘Whiskey In The Jar’. With the vote-of-the day yet to be played, James revealed the vote figures on screen with ‘…And Justice For All’ in winning position. This was a personal highlight for me as this marked the second of two of my favourite songs making the setlist tonight. Closing the show as usual, Metallica beach balls were released, bouncing around the crowd for the one and only ‘Seek and Destroy’. If the crowd’s voices weren’t already blown by this point, they certainly were afterwards.
Photos by Steve Dempsey : Down The Barrel Photography