Metallica, Slipknot and more at Sonisphere Festival (2009)

Sonisphere Festival (Barcelona, Spain)

Metallica, Slipknot, Machine Head, Lamb Of God, Down, Mastodon, Gojira, Soziedad Alkoholika, The Eyes
'Sonisphere Festival' is a new establishment that visits many countries across Europe and has actually […]
By Dimitris Kontogeorgakos
July 11, 2009

'Sonisphere Festival' is a new establishment that visits many countries across Europe and has actually managed to attract famous bands and -of course- a lot of metalheads. This was the first time for METAL TEMPLE to add this new festival so, no press accreditation was requested and the editors visited Barcelona's The Forum as fans who were dying to catch METALLICA and their 'Death Magnetic' tour.

Starting off, I have to say that The Forum is an excellent place to hold festivals of this kind since it located near public transport while the parking spots are not that hard to find. The open air venue is near the sea and thus a nice breeze made its appearance as darkness was falling. But, the local promoters did not manage to fully equip this venue to handle this amount of metalheads. And I am talking about eating and drinking. The cashiers were you bought the money tokens had long human queues while the choices were to eat turn to be over-crowded in during the rush hour. Actually, these were the only complaints about the organization and since this was 'Sonisphere' first time in Spain I bet things will get better in the future.

There were two stages inside the venue and the smaller one was one level below the main stage with very comfortable seats on the arena's side being a great place for anyone who just wanted to watch. The first band we watched was GOJIRA. I may sound old-fashioned here and a little bit strange for the young readers but I cannot understand GOJIRA success. Alright, their music is good to get into a mosh-pit and generally get physical on a gig but that's all. Fortunately for them, the metalheads did not share the same feelings with me and honored the French band that seems to grow every day in publicity terms. Well, this turned to be a nice opportunity to pay a visit at the official merchandise stand and grab a couple of t-shirts.

I learned the name of SOZIEDAD ALKOHOLIKA when I was checking the festival's billing. This Punk and Crossover at times band hails from Spain and it seemed by the strong attendance they have a very strong fan-base. It is always nice to watch local bands having this great impact since every country must and should take care of its 'kids.' SOZIEDAD ALKOHOLIKA did not let anyone down laying their Punk-based songs getting everyone to sing since they use their native language on the lyrics. Their performance gained power as the setlist progressed but I found myself difficult to connect with them due to the Spanish Lyrics and due to the fact that the band's mainman chose to also speak in Spanish. Come on guys this festival attracts fans from outside Spain so do them a favor and speak in English!

Next on the billing was another band that falls outside my cup of tea. MASTODON have managed to create quite fuss around their name and this gave them the chance to travel around Europe taking part in many festivals. My 'problem' with this band is that they have such a bad sound when they are on-stage. Ok, the music is not that melodic but at least you should be able to listen to some of their trademark guitar riffs. So, we sat down enjoyed the Mediterranean breeze and the Spanish sun trying to figure out what the rest of the crowd was enjoying. I managed to distinguish March Of The Fire Ants and Iron Tusk but did not enjoy them at all. This was my second time with MASTODON and I came to the conclusion that it would be the last.

After this weak start we had to watch something to warm our necks. And so LAMB OF GOD in the main stage seemed to be a nice opportunity taking into account the quality of their latest effort Wrath. Fortunately, the US band met completely my expectations and gave a hell of a show playing three (I believe so) songs from the aforementioned album that were The Passing, In Your Words and Set To Fail. Since Metalcore has not much to offer as music the bands have to back up their performance with on-stage energy. And this is exactly what LAMB OF GOD did that day. Especially, Randy Blythe, who also joined GOJIRA on stage for one song, sweated his arse off running up and down and in the end he managed to establish a connection with the crowd even if the English language is not that popular to the Spanish metalheads. The band closed the setlist with Black Label leaving most of the audience sweaty trying to make their way to the closest bar.

DOWN was the last band to appear in the second stage. As they did in 'Graspop' Phil and his company attracted a great crowd feeling up the arena in front of the stage and made the place looking flooded. DOWN did not let them down and delivered the Stoner almost Thrash music to the maximum. Phil proved that he can communicate with every audience and despite the language problem did manage to raise everyone's fists in the air. Since this was my second DOWN during a month's period I manage to identify and enjoy (if I may add)New Orleans Is A Dying Whore, Stone The Crow and Bury Me In Smoke where we were buried in weed's smoke despite the fine sea breeze.

Just before the end of DOWN's appearance we made our way to the main stage to get a nice spot for the following MACHINE HEAD or if you prefer MACHINE-fucking-HEAD. This great Thrash band has gone a lot after the Supercharger release but made it through delivering the impressive Through The Ashes Of Empires . This would be my second time with them and I was more than pumped since I knew what this great band was capable to do on-stage. So, after the essential preparations the US band entered with a massive sound playing the killer riff of Imperium. To my surprise, I did not see the reaction from the crowd I was expecting for but as the setlist progressed the band managed to get them moving. Despite his recent health problems Phil Demmel was solid that night while Robb Flynn sung with his trademark hatred and passion every single song in their setlist. The moment I was waiting for came just before the end of this powerful performance with the excellent Descend The Shades Of Night where Robb sung the intro with a classic guitar. The crowd showed the proper reaction to the massive thrashers of Old, Bulldozer and -of course- Davidian that close this very good live show!

01. Imperium
02. Ten Ton Hammer
03. Beautiful Mourning
04. Aesthetics of Hate
05. Old
06. Bulldozer
07. Seasons Wither
08. Halo
09. Struck A Nerve
10. Descend the Shades of Night
11. Davidian

Already impressed by SLIPKNOT's performance at this year's 'Graspop' (read the live report here) I was not sure what to expect. Maybe something different taking also into consideration that in 'sonisphere' they were not the headlining act. So, after the 742617000027 SLIPKNOT entered the stage and Corey take his place in the center and posed his cyco looks driving the fans crazy. For another time I realized the extent of SLIPKNOT's success. All the energy I was missing during MACHINE HEAD's performance found its way through and made everyone jump, scream and sing the groovy lyrics. The band did the three tracks from the homonymous album without pause and in my eyes they looked exactly the same as they did in 'Graspop.' With only difference; number 3 or if you prefer Chris Fehn was missing and above his custom percussion kit was his mask and a bunch of flowers.

Corey said that a sudden death in Chris's family forced him to stay in his country. Well, this seemed to have an affect on the rest of the band but in the end they managed to pull the trademark SLIPKNOT show. Sound-wise I could not find any difference in their music since they already have another percussionist doing almost the same job. The show climaxed with People=Shit that lead us to the one and only encore. Here, Corey tried to convince everyone to sat down during Spit It Out but did not have the success or the time like he did in 'Graspop'.. Overall, it was a professional performance that satisfied all the band's fans. Personally, I felt that I was watching a movie again since SLIPKNOT were following exactly their program. But this happens when you have such a 'heavy' tour schedule like them...

SLIPKNOT setlist:
01. 742617000027
02. (sic)
03. Eyeless
04. Wait And Bleed
05. Before I Forget
06. Sulfur
07. The Blister Exists
08. Dead Memories
09. Disasterpiece
10. Psychosocial
11. Duality
12. People=Shit
13. Surfacing
14. Spit It Out

It was time for the reason we came to Spain. METALLICA were about to enter the stage and drain the last drops of energy we had inside us. It was midnight time when the classic Ecstasy of gold tune accompanied the even more classic excerpt from the The Good, The Bad And The Ugly movie was projected upon the big screens on both sides of the stage. The visual aspect of the intro send shivers down our spine and brought -what I believe- the best live Metal band on-stage along with a surprise! METALLICA kicked in with Fight Fire With Fire and made our heads explode. Having released the very good Death Magnetic album one would expect something from this album and not a song from the old days that many think that this band has forgotten. Without stopping Creeping Death and No Remorse forming one hell-of-a setlist. I think that METALLICA after the difficult times they hand during the making of St Anger have found the golden mean and work again as a whole. Ok, Trujillo still looks strange on-stage with them but you cannot have everything, can you?

Prior to this festival I was dying to listen the Death Magnetic tracks live. Many comments have been made about the sound production of this album but the ultimate judge is when the band is on-stage. So, that summer night we had Broken, Beat And Scarred, My Apocalypse and The Day That Never Comes and let me tell you to hell with all these comments. The tracks sound amazing live even if James has lost part of his singin abilities but i the in the end of the day it is Hetfield with his trademark looks and attitude that are more than enough. The stage was plain with nothing fancy while the fireworks were totally impressive. you have to search fan footage for the One intro to understand my saying. I really love they way METALLICA put up a show; they seem so honest (I don't care if they fake it) that everyone gets carried away. Well, not everyone because the Spanish audience seemem not that energetic and especially during the old songs where mayhem should have been unleashed.

James apologized for not being too active on-stage since the previous days had a serious problem in his back that was that serious that he could not stand. Fortunately, he made it and he just had from time to time to get back a sit on a chair whenever it was possible. Enter Sandman was the end of the regular set but no one left since METALLICA had more to give. The encore was as powerful as the whole gig! It started with Stone Cold Crazy and climaxed with Phantom Lord and the logical ending with Seek & Destroy. The fireworks lighted up the sky leaving us totally exhausted and 100% satisfied after the more than two hours set.

METALLICA setlist:

01. Fight Fire With Fire
02. Creeping Death
03. No Remorse
04. Of Wolf And Man
05. Fade To Black
06. Broken, Beat And Scarred
07. My Apocalypse
08. Sad But True
09. One
10. All Nightmare Long
11. The Day That Never Comes
12. Master Of Puppets
13. Blackened
14. Nothing Else Matters
15. Enter Sandman
16. Stone Cold Crazy (QUEEN cover)
17. Phantom Lord
18. Seek & Destroy

We made our way to the hotel dragging our feet from exhaustion. The Spanish edition of 'Sonisphere' left us totally satisfied from the live performances point of view but also raised some complaints about the festival amenities. It was very difficult to buy yourself something to eat without having to miss the entire performance of a band and eventually your temper. Things will definitely go better in the future since 'Sonisphere' had quite a successful trip across Europe. So, lets hope next year it will reach more countries and eventually upgrade some of them. (the Greek readers know what I am talking about!)

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