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Sonisphere Festival 2011: Sunday Rolling Review

Rock Sound
Rock Sound 11 July 2011 at 01.07

Day Three in the Sonisphere household, and shit's about to get hectic.

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Today the site is buzzing for the imminent arrival of the many-headed war machine known as Slipknot, but before they take to Apollo Stage the likes of Limp Bizkit, Parkway Drive, Mastodon and more are going to rip it up.

For a comprehensive review of Friday at Sonisphere, including our verdicts on The Big Four click here...

...and if you want to know what Biffy Clyro, Weezer et al were like on Saturday, check this link out.

It’s definitely still too early for full-on thrash, but Kingston's ARCANE ROOTS tear through a set that’s the perfect mix of quiet / loud for this time of the morning – and with their time signatures suitably all over the place, it’s the perfect transition into the rest of the day’s line-up. Next week’s single ‘In This Town Of Such Weather’ gets one of the bigger responses from the crowd, and their crowning achievement thus far 'You Are' sends glorious tingles up the spine – but, for once, the Red Bull tent is a little undersubscribed (though we’re pretty sure we spotted Corey Taylor watching their set – so they can tick the box for quality, if not quantity, of attendees). (AB)

TURBOWOLF take a slightly different tack with their approach, though, with their half-hour performance dedicated near-entirely to blowing out our eardrums. It’s to the point that the Bohemia stage’s speakers can’t quite handle the level of distortion in the bass and synth riffs that punctuate their rock ‘n’ roll sound – but couple that with the pounding drums in songs like ‘Read And Write’ and ‘Bag Of Bones,’ and the dodgy speakers don’t compromise the power of their set, which propels the crowd into a sea of fist pumps and shout-along interaction. (AB)

KYLESA's psychedelic sludgy jams, lifted by the tattoo of two drummers pulling double shifts, are enough to sell the Savannah, Georgia quintet as the Jupiter-sized-riff factory that could coushouldld follow in Mastodon's hoofprints into the fertile lands of crossover underground / mainstream appeal. But they've clearly had an existentialist pow-wow and decided to make the live show even more transcendent. Giving guitarist / vocalist Phillip Cope adds to the percussive weight, and bassist Corey Barhorst and guitarist / vocalist Laura Pleasant's increasingly animated performance makes them all the more watchable. Before you'd close your eyes, tighten your sphincter, channel those riffs and think about stuff; now you have to watch, engage and nod your head in time with your brain. It's brilliant. And track's such as 'Scapegoat' and the summer alt-rock vibed 'Tired Climb' sound great, nay essential in anyone's company.(JH)

Beginning their set with an overly long jam session, it feels as though HOUSE OF PAIN spend more time on endlessly flexing their musical muscles than they do ripping up the stage. When they really get into their stride on Put On Your Shit Kickers, the old magic returns and when that drop from Jump Around detonates, the field goes as bonkers as you'd expect (one trader stands on top of his Chip N' Dip van to show his appreciation) but a great end is totally overruled by the tedium that went before it. (TB)

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There’s something awesome about watching a band that are having as much fun on stage as you are off of it and that’s exactly what PARKWAY DRIVE do today. Getting crowd members into rubber dinghies and crowd surfing them is one thing but guitarist Luke Kilpatrick spinning around on his wheelchair whilst kicking out the jams has to be one of the craziest thing seen at Sonisphere 2011. Even crazier than the guy dressed as Bananaman with his arse out. Sleepwalker, Unrest and a colossal Idols And Anchors are metalcore perfection with beaters that hit harder than a Klitschko wearing a knuckle-duster. Put simply, Parkway smacked it. (TB)

MOJO FURY provide a fairly unremarkable start to things over on the Jagermeister stage; their rock ‘n’ roll stylings failing to inspire much of a response from the smattering of people lounging themselves out in front of the stage. It’s a shame as they’re an impressive live experience and sound fairly decent out here this Sunday lunchtime, but third day festival fatigue has well and truly set in for those in attendance. (AR)

MAKE THIS RELATE are one of this year’s more popular Red Bull Bedroom Jam alumni, and over in the Bedroom Jam tent they’re doing their damndest to justify the hype. It’s pop-punk numbers for sure, and their set us utterly predictable, but they’re an eager and well-rehearsed bunch that will only improve their reputation by playing shows like this. The Glaswegians have got a long way to go yet, but they're at least getting some good practise in this weekend. (AR)

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Swedeath titans IN FLAMES have long since deserted their seminal G-berg melodic death metal sound in favour of more mainstream, festival friendly anthems. It means that, in certain circles, they're loathed for deserting the trenches of the club circuit. And that's to be expected. But they've never forgotten their fans (collectively known as the Jesterheads), and it's their trump card that they should make all feel welcome whenever their in town or field. Anders Friden is a great guy to have fronting your band; maybe his touchy feely compositional mores have diluted the venom from their jams but it adds the esprit de corps vital to any festival slot that drags everyone out in front of the stage. And, for the girls or not, 'Take This Life' is a real proper tune.(JH)

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If you were to root through the droppings of MASTODON after this afternoon's almighty mother-puncher of a set, you'd probably find traces of the Apollo stage poking through. They fucking devoured Knebworth. As a band who've been totally weakened by their schedule and ever-increasing size, they've clearly sniffed the roses long enough to have the scent for battle back in their nostrils. There is no-one who can touch their riffs; 'Blood And Thunder' has the kinetic heft to loosen everything in its path (stage bolts and bowels alike). Like, once you've been impressing just how great you are for the past our, through tracks such as 'Colony Of Birchmen' and 'Crystal Skull', and with bassist / vocalist Troy Sanders finding his voice just as his appearance goes one part Rip Van Winkle, two parts Buzz Osbourne, it's like they've been blessed with an almighty power-up, and a bite radius that could chew your world in two. Primal, feral: this is (and feel free to argue to the contrary) the best set this unkempt bunch of Wookies have ever played. Seriously, man.(JH)

St Albans' FLOODS dish up a balanced mix of hardcore brutality and soaring choruses, albeit in tricky sound conditions. It's a shame that the amount this show can be enjoyed is limited, largely due to the fact that there's barely any audible guitar throughout the duration of their set. Still, the barebones are still there and shining through: energy, enthusiasm and some downright solid songs. By the end of it, their frontman is clambering up the scaffolding of the tent too, just to show they mean business. (AR)

Maybe it's because they've played a few billion shows down the road in the capital over the last few months, or maybe it's because everyone else is in a collective post-Mastodon coma, but the Bedroom Jam stage is almost deserted when DANGEROUS! walk out. The Australians persevere, playing as if to thousands and not the dozens in attendance, and vocalist Tommy is a real livewire to watch, as unpredictable as his screams are piercing. Their synth-infused brand of hardcore is a hidden win on today's line-up and the boys fly the flag high for Australian music, it's only a shame barely anyone saw it. (AR)

MOTÖRHEAD are pretty much a cut and paste affair; they turn up, they play rock 'n' roll and leave. And of course it all centres round Lemmy. But check out drummer Mikkey Dee; this guy is allegedly Swedish, but more likely to have been put together in a Timex factory, certainly somewhere Swiss and where the quartz crystals grow / form / whatever naturally. And Phil Campbell, fueled by Strongbow, puts the bark into the power trio. It's weird at first, as are rumours doing the rounds that Würzel (Michael Burston) has passed away. But there doesn't seem to be anything different about this 'Head set. The trifecta of 'Ace Of Spades', 'Overkill' and 'The Chase Is Better Than The Catch' is hard to beat, by anybody, but playing 'Killed By Death' in the company of buxom wenches breathing fire comes pretty close. If the rumour is true: RIP Würzel. If not, continue cheating death like these guys.(JH)

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The organisers have timed their acts well today, and that's to TITLE FIGHT's benefit, as they manage to nearly fill up the Red Bull tent while MOTÖRHEAD play a few hundred metres over. The set is heavy on this year's full-length 'Shed', with its title track, '27' and 'Flood Of '72' getting some of the most enthusiastic singalongs of the day (to labour the point a little, anyone can shout along to 'Break Stuff' - but how many people are truly impassioned by it?). It's a testament to their musicianship, too, that even their slower songs maintain the attention of the crowd - and they live up to the reputation they set on last week's UK tour for being absolutely flipping airtight live. (AB)

After the unsophistacated thump of Motorhead, watching OPETH is like being ushered into the Louvre to gawp at some Romantic works of total high art. The musicianship is impeccable. Mikael Åkerfeldt is a fantastic host, guiding us through Opeth's back catalogue, littered with progressive death metal masterpieces. It's as close as metal gets to being opulent. There is a but, though; even through the 'Watershed' material, 'Hex Omega' a highlight, the Swedes are not a late afternoon festival band. They are deserving of a way longer attention span but other than obligatory devotion from their acolytes they're going to be left wanting.(JH)

DON BROCO's thug workout class is one well attended, which is especially significant considering they're up against the Bizkit for half of their set. The Broco boys impress, battling like most other bands on the bill have done against some awful sound issues in the Red Bull Bedroom Jam tent this weekend. Today sees them mark the tail end of the 'Big Fat Smile' touring cycle, and it really shows - they've got this set nailed down to a routine. Granted, their synchronised stage manoeuvres could use an injection of some fresh shapes, but the Bedfordshire foursome do better than anyone else in this tent today at getting the crowd's collective arse moving. Not even Limp Bizkit had a mass on-the-shoulder fight going on for them, did they eh? (AR)

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Striding onto stage with a riot-starting one-two combination of 'Hot Dog' and 'My Generation', LIMP BIZKIT turn Knebworth House into their very own back garden party from the get go. They'll always be a divisive band (to put it politely) but to pour scorn on the band's ridiculousness is to spectacularly miss the point. There have been plenty of bands that have played this weekend that are musically superior, more spiritually enlightening and, obviously, 'cleverer' than Durst and his wrecking crew but when you can blast out hits like 'Break Stuff', 'Take A Look Around' and 'Rollin'', you ram the the fact that there is no rock band alive that can kickstart a party better than Limp Bizkit down everybody's throats. (TB)

CANCER BATS are most definitely not suited to a small stage, with about a hundred people held back behind a barricade outside each of the Bohemia tent's four entrances trying to catch a glimpse of their set. Once security gauge that we can all mosh like grown-ups without someone getting hurt, most of the punters are let in - and the Canadian quartet take the upped numbers into their stride, bringing out songs from 'Hail Destroyer' and their 'Sabotage' cover only when the tent is packed to capacity. Proclaiming tonight their last UK show of this year (they're off to write a new record - read about that here), if this set is anything to go by, we're in for a stellar fourth album indeed. (AB)

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FOUR YEAR STRONG, then, have the challenge of a clash with the very, very popular BILL BAILEY - but thankfully, the rain brings a few casual punters into the Bohemia tent to supplement the die-hards down the front. Sticking mostly to the hits - though we're treated to a brand new song mid-way through the set - the sheer force they back up their pop-punk songs with is more than enough to get people moving, with double pedals and chugging guitars providing the perfect backdrop to the baying crowd's singalongs to 'Heroes Get Remembered, Legends Never Die' and the brilliant 'Wasting Time (Eternal Summer).' (AB)

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In what is arguably the event of the weekend, SLIPKNOT's return to treading UK boards following the passing of Paul Gray is an incredibly overwhelming experience for all and sundry. Maybe it's that this is a mentally exhaustive event but it takes Slipknot a couple of tracks to really hit their stride but during a crushing 'Before I Forget', the Des Moines metal legends kick into overdrive and don't let-up for the set's duration. The grinding, haunting 'Purity' and a white-hot 'Disasterpieces' are welcome set inclusions for the die-hards but it's the full-throated reactions that greet 'Psychosocial' (the rain doesn't kill us all but it does ironically start to batter it down during the chorus), 'Spit It Out' (complete with the now standard 'jump the fuck up' moment) and a weekend-stealing 'Duality' that really speak volumes. On a night dedicated to celebrating the life and work of one of metal's most sorely missed unsung heroes, Slipknot deliver the most perfect tribute possible and the perfect end to this bad ass weekend.

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