Archive for August, 2011

Howzit, brah???

Had a bunch of new things to listen to, but this was top of my list so here’s what I think.

Firstly, let me clarify a few things.

1 – I love Unearth, they are one of my all time favourite bands. They are a bunch of extremely talented musicians who write exceptionally skilled songs that I can really get into! Wish I could play them though!

2 – I don’t hate this album. It is not shit. So while you’re reading this thinking “fuck you, it’s ace” and you’re thinking I don’t like it, you are wrong.

3 – When I started this blog I said I’d give an honest opinion and wouldn’t pussy-foot about, so here’s one on one of my fave bands.

4 – Buz McGrath is my hero… after Slash.

Unearth - Darkness in the Light

Unearth - Darkness in the Light

OK, my initial problem with ‘Darkness in the Light’ was that it just didn’t sound like Unearth! I heard one song that they’d streamed before the CD came out, and it sounded a little different, but still pretty damn good (good enough that I felt the need to comment on twitter – something I rarely do!), so I was eager to hear what the rest of ‘Darkness in the Light’ would be like.

As with all Unearth albums, this one is a host of well thought out riffs and exceptional guitar work, complimented by thundering bass and drums and finished with Trevor Phipps’ excellent vocals to create an album full of catchy songs. Unfortunately, in parts the music sounds more like Killswitch Engage and All That Remains than Unearth! See, I can’t hate it ‘cause I love those bands too!! Also, I say ‘unfortunately’ but there’s nowt wrong with sounding like those two bands! Maybe that s part of it. Lodged in my mind is the Killswitch sound as they have Justin ‘J-Fo’ Foley playing drums on this CD. Anyway…

Unearth have a solid riffing style that while melodic is hard edged and very unique to them. Some of the riffs on ‘Darkness..’ feel even more melodic and, well, happy. It’s not even down to the addition of a clean vocal, which while very good, still isn’t Unearth. I understand the need to branch out and try different things, but I feel like this one has branched out into a realm that has been tried and tested by Unearth’s contemporaries, while the genre that they virtually created is the one they should be building on.

There are few metal bands out there that can match Unearth in this style, the nearest I can think of being Parkway Drive. Buz and Ken’s stand out melodic hardcore metal riffs and Trevor’s unique vocal make Unearth a great band. Not to mention Slo’s driving bass-lines and (enter drummer here)’s pounding beats.

So, that was pretty much what I thought on my first few listens. In my head, I was looking for the differences and not hearing the similarities. Having given it several more listens I can clearly hear the filthy Unearth sounds blazing through. There are some nasty riffs on here mixed in with the melodies, and some extra groove-driven snippets in there too! Yes, I can still hear similar sounding bits from other bands, but they don’t spoil the songs. I was just looking for them and found them!

Opener ‘Watch it Burn’ is a mix of Unearth goodness. Some chunky riffs, melodic guitar and clean vocals. ‘Shadows in the Light’ is another catchy tune with a hooky chorus. ‘Arise the War Cry’ is just awesome and ‘Eyes of Black’ has been on constant rotation due to that awesome groovy riff at about 2:05. Classic stuff.

So, no, I don’t hate this album. In fact, it’s bloody brilliant. It’s just not quite the Unearth I love, whilst at the same time being very much Unearth! Well, in my eyes anyway. And I’m not one of those people who only likes the older stuff of certain bands as ‘The March’ is my fave Unearth album! Very closely followed by ‘The Oncoming Storm’. Regardless of my thoughts on ‘Darkness in the Light’, I will still listen to it to death and am definitely going to see them on their upcoming UK tour! WHICH IS THIS WEEK!!!!!!!! YAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY!

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OK, so here’s an enigma. Given that my entire musical history started with and revolves around former GN’R guitarist Slash – why don’t I have a copy of Slash’s Snakepit’s second album?????

I ask, ‘cause it lead to a few moments at the recent Slash gig in Manchester where I was like “what the hell is this”. I’ve heard the album, but don’t know it and only really know one song off it! Why??? Why have I never bought it? God knows!

So yes, I went to see Slash yet again! I actually planned to go at least twice – possibly three times – buy money and other people ruined my chances! I was on the ball at 9am on ticket preorder day trying my damnedest to get tickets for Manchester and his hometown gig in Stoke. Try as I might for two days, I failed to get Stoke. I did get Manchester though, so I wasn’t too disappointed. But I really wanted to go to Stoke!!!!!!!!!

I was planning on going to the High Voltage festival in London for the day Slash played. 2 reasons really, Slash and Judas Priest. I’ve never seen the Priest before so thought It might be cool to see ’em, given they’re planning on calling it a day soon. As it was, I didn’t go. Skint. I was still gonna see Slash in Manchester though!

As you can tell, I was fairly excited.

So after Sonisphere I had a few weeks off, then a fairly busy week of things happening, culminating in Slash (yaaay) then the Batman Live Arena tour which was a great laugh!

We got to sunny Manchester and parked up outside the Apollo, strolled to the back of the mammoth queue that was getting ever longer and waited it out. After 20 mins of hovering (10 of those minutes past doors time – seriously, why can these places never open the doors on time!!!!!!!!) the queue started moving and we headed in. A quick nose at the merch stall to earmark possible buys and it was upstairs to the bar for some expensive cans of Carlsberg.

Supporting were a band I’d never heard of. Japanese Voyeurs. We stayed at the bar and made the executive decision to not watch them. Ross passed comment that we’d probably end up liking these in the future and they’d likely be headlining Download next year, given the habit of ignoring bands we don’t know and then liking them down the line! Incidentally about 2 days later, I caught an ok poppy rock tune with a cute girl singer and thought “not bad, who are these”. Yeah, it was Japanese Voyeurs. Bugger.

Back to the gig. We downed remaining drinks and headed back down to the main standing zone.

On the way past, I decided to get a Slash ‘Nightrain’ t-shirt that I’d been eyeing up online. It was £25 and I don’t usually spend that much on band tees, but it was cool and it was Slash after all! I asked the girl what the sizes were like. Ya know, the American large is bigger than the UK, and she said they were pretty big, so I asked if I could try a large. “Sorry. XL only.”. “NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!”. I walked away. Disappointed.

…but not for long.

Slash at Manchester Apollo

Slash & Co at Manchester Apollo

Slash was on in a sec, and I was standing there, all excited like a kid on Christmas morning. He came out with Myles Kennedy of Alter Bridge and his backing group and blazed straight into… a song I didn’t know!!!!! Picture the scene – Me, very excited to singalong to all my fave songs and “YAAAAAY, SLAAASH….WHAT THE HELL IS THIS?” It was Snakepit tune ‘Been There Lately’.

Fail.

Still, the show was ace. I didn’t cry! I kept my emotions in check. Last time I got a slight emotional when he played ‘The Godfather’ theme. It was something I’d seen him play on videos of GN’R live stuff when I was first getting into the music and Guns, and I never thought I’d hear it played, so it was understandable. That and he went straight into ‘Sweet Child O’ Mine’.

Slash

Slash

This time though, I just did the usual, I sang along to every lyric I knew (which was most of them) and when it was solo time, I stood in awe with my mouth open in complete stunned silence and watched. Amazing.

They played Guns N’ Roses classics Nightrain, Civil War, Rocket Queen, and Sweet Child O’ Mine, Velvet Revolver’s Fall To Pieces, Snakepit tracks Mean Bone and Speed Parade, Slash’s solo efforts Ghost, Doctor Alibi (with Todd Kearns on vocals), Nothing to Say, Watch This, Starlight, Back From Cali, By The Sword and Promise, Alter Bridge’s Rise Today and the usual guitar solo/Godfather theme medley. I loved every minute of it.

Unusually, at one point, the top-hatted genius whipped out a Gibson Explorer! A guitar shape I think looks weird on everyone who isn’t James Hetfield or The Edge. He still made it look cool. Prefer the Les Pauls though.

Slash

Slash showing off!

They started the long intro to VR’s ‘Slither’, where they introduce the band and I took this queue to make a break for the front… and a piss. I got down the side of the venue and stood and bounced on the spot (and tried to take loads of photos) as they played Slither, just looking for a gap to get down the front. Then it came. One of my all time fave tunes. The familiar drum into of Mr. Brownstone. It was about then I lost all care for the people around me and followed the charge down to the front. Inches from the barrier, and there I stayed throughout Brownstone, the beautiful sing-along of Patience and on through Paradise City.

What an epic show. I could watch that kinda thing every day of the week. It was just brilliant.

Ok, I am still sad I’ll never see Guns N’ Roses with Slash playing these songs, but this is the best it’ll ever be! Sorry Axl, the sham GN’R that you’re spearheading just doesn’t cut it!

Same time next year? Fuckin’ right!!!!

Saturday – Biffy Clyro & The Sausage-Fest!

Sounds like some weird gay antics were had, but it’s not like that. Biffy merely headlined and we ate lots of sausages!

Sausagefest

Ben, Jodz & a shitload of sausages

Jodz had brought with him about 50 sausages for a morning barbecue, which were the breakfast pick me up that was most definitely needed after a night on the ale. Complimented by my morning brew and apple, the greasy sausages on leftover baps with warm cheese slices were spot on! As the next batch of sausages were cooking, we headed into the arena to catch the first band of the day that were on the radar… Sylosis! Well, they were just as good as expected and we even managed to get a full set out of them this time! Hurrah! Tight, shredding guitar work and a good sound. Front man Josh Middleton seems to have come out of his shell a lot more and works the crowd well, something they were lacking for a while after departure of previous frontman Jamie Graham. All in all, a damn fine show!

Richard Cheese

Richard Cheese

Next up was the legendary Richard Cheese and his backing group Lounge Against the Machine. We’d all been loving the Cheesemeisters covers of some of our favourite (and not so favourite) metal and hip hop tunes. The man did not disappoint. A master of the stage, he really knew how to get the crowd going and was such a funny guy to watch and such a talented singer to listen to! Sporting some classic leopard print lounge attire, He did a load of the tunes we wanted to hear, Disturbed’s Down With the Sickness, Limp Bizkit’s Nookie, Slipknot’s People = Shit, Snoop Dogg’s Gin & Juice, Nirvana’s Rape Me, Metallica’s Enter Sandman and more. He crammed a load of good fun tunes to sing along to in his set and was such a laugh to see. He said he’d be back over in London in 2012, so we’ll have to go see that!

Next up were Architects. Not really into these guys, but Ben said he’d not really paid any attention to them before so wanted to have a look. We loitered at the back and sat down to give ‘em a listen. Largely unimpressed, we got some food and went to do the same thing for Gallows ‘cause Jim likes them and apparently the singer was due to quit.

After Gallows, it was time for my second viewing of Cavalera Conspiracy this week, and the second time in 2 days I’d hear Refuse/Resist (fully this time though). They were good. Well, the band were. Max just doesn’t look arsed! The sound was a bit pants, which didn’t help as it was a struggle to hear Tha Rizzo playing. They did however do a load of good Sepultura/CC tunes and got the crowd moving! …and yessssss! They played Nailbomb’s Cockroaches. A classic tune. Max had his kids on stage to play it, so it was a very family oriented experience.

Time for a break now and some cheap beer. So we headed back to the tents just in time, as not for the first time this weekend… the heavens opened!.

A few cans later and we wandered back in to catch a bit of Sum 41. It was rammed. We could hardly move to get a good spot for ‘em so we just stopped mid-crowed and enjoyed it from wherever we were. The played ‘In Too Deep’ and ‘Fat Lip’ back-to-back at the end, so we were done. They tried to cram in another tune but were clearly over time, so they had the sound cut! Ha-ha! I laugh, but it was pointless. If they were gonna cut the sound and let ‘em finish playing the song anyway, they might as well have left the song on!!!

Regardless, it started raining again, so we legged it back to tents for some more cans. …and we didn’t wanna watch All Time Low!

Rain

Rain = Shit

We sat round the tents in ponchos and bin-bags, determined to not let the rain spoil the weekend. I’d even sparked up the kettle for a pot noodle. At one point, it absolutely hammered it down, but I sat it out, as did Ross, and it didn’t stop the kettle boiling either!! Lo and behold, just as it boiled, the rain stopped, so I could enjoy my lunch without it filling with rainwater!

We came back into the arena for Weezer. The rain had gone and it was relatively ok weather-wise from here onwards (for Saturday anyway). We were walking in as they played Undone (The Sweater Song) which a few of us were singing along to as we strolled in. Weezer are a great live band, though I fear Rivers Cuomo may have lost the plot over the years! They did some classic tunes like Buddy Holly, My Name is Jonas, Beverly Hills, Hash Pipe and my fave (which Rivers didn’t sing, Scott Shriner did) Dope Nose! Oh, and again they played Teenage Dirtbag and a crappy Radiohead cover. WHY????

Posse with Beer

Drinking & watching Weezer

As you can imagine, by now we’d been drinking a fair bit and were on the way do being smashed. So we hit the bar… again! We’d gotten to the point where paying £4 for a beer was no longer an issue, so we strolled to the bar and got a few in while we waited for a decent band to come on. We’d tried watching Gojira, but again the full tent rule stopped us from getting in for a decent view. Ah well, another beer and wait for Biffy.

They were really good. I like Biffy Clyro and they are a deserved festival headliner. Just not a Sonisphere headliner. Ok so Saturday was a mix of things, but on the whole it’s a metal festival. Summat like Leeds/Reading they’d be a top headliner. Regardless, they were on top form. We watched from the back as they went through all the favourite tunes: Who’s Got a Match, Folding Stars, The Captain, Many of Horror et al. We had a good laugh while they were on, chatting and singing along, then they finished and we all started to walk off. Until it clicked in my very drunken brain that they hadn’t played Mountains yet. So I halted the crowd and we waited it out. They played it. I was a happy drunk. Then off to tents for more drunken idiocy!

In the Bar

£12 worth of Tuborg

On his way back, Ben had found a gravel pit that was supposed to be for making barbecues on. He’d stood in it and deeply offended the girl camping next to it, so we walked back up there to see what was going on! We did the only thing we could do at a gravel pit. We stood there singing Wu-Tang Clan’s ‘Gravel Pit’. This caused a mosh pit in said gravel pit that offended the locals even more! One of them shouted “I’m sick of people throwing stones at my tent”. Stupidly, I picked up the tiniest piece of grit and threw it. I say threw, it was the weakest ‘throw’ ever. The tiny piece of grit, hardly visible in the dark, never got past my shoe. Talk about over react! The girl in question launched an all out assault, trying to grab me by the throat and screaming at me, as everyone, including myself, laughed at the incident! She calmed down, I apologised and the world was cool. But, jeez! Mental!

Back to the tents for a few more tins, then into tent where I fell asleep.

Sunday – Slipknot & Hometime

I woke up feeling a tad uncomfortable the next morning… and a tad rough! I was face down on the floor of my tent with my face in my rucksack. I distinctly remember going to sleep in my sleeping bag, on my air bed with my face in a pillow! I think the earth must have shifted slightly under my sleeping carcass.

Brew n breakfast later and it was nearly time to head back to the arena for another day of tunes and a day of shitty weather.

Firstly though, it was the last day, and we were planning on darting as soon as Slipknot finished, so it was time to pack everything away. So a few walks back and forth to the car and we’d packed away. I managed to nurse one can of cider on the hour long walk (that’s how rough I was feeling!).

As we were doing this, the fuckwits that were camped next to us decided to kick off about something and got two of our posse kicked out! Nightmare! Apparently, their tent had been wrecked and we were to blame! I don’t think so! We watched you put it up, incorrectly, then break it, then move it, then try and fix it, then leave the top off so the rain came in! So no, you broke it!! Liars!

We headed in to see Arch Enemy, who sounded pretty good. It was the last day and we were hungover somewhat and knackered, so we could only manage a seated position for most of the day! After they’d finished we wandered over to Apollo stage and took a seat for House of Pain. I only know two House of Pain songs, and I was only getting outta my seat for one of them! Our enjoyment of the party tune that is ‘Jump Around’ was marred by an immense fuckup on Sonisphere’s part. The ‘No clashes between Apollo and Saturn stages’ rule was out the window, and as we were jumping around, we heard Parkway Drive kicking in on the main stage. Bloody Hell!!!!!

Parkway Drive

Parkway Drive

We legged it over as Jump Around finished and watched Parkway ripping it up! Frontman Winston McCall had gone all out on the first song and sounded knackered for the rest of the set! They were ace though! A cracking set of songs and good stage presence made them one of the bands of the festival. That and the dinghy race they set up across the crowd was a novel idea! There were a few people with boards that were crowdsurfing too! In another unusual band move, one of their guitarists had broken his leg and so was moving himself about in a wheelchair! Fair do’s to him, he covered a fair bit of the stage while hammering out some technical guitar mastery!

At this point, there was a 2 minute silence held for Paul Gray of Slipknot. Probably the quietest festival moment I’ve ever been party to.

In Flames were up next. I’m not really into ‘em so we sat and listened. They sounded quite good, but I only recognized one track – Take This Life – which was cool. Mastodon were next and we were both tired and bored during their set. So bored, that Ben went for a kip in the next field and we just sat and monged out. Before they finished though, a few of us made a move to check out Airbourne.

Airbourne

Airbourne - This can only end in disaster.

I only know one AC/DC, I mean Airbourne, song, so it was pretty new to me. They were alright though. Definitely something I can get into. Well, I like DC, I must by default like Airbourne! Enjoyed what I’d heard and it’s always fun to see a band going above and beyond just playing at a festival. Their singer/guitarist Joel O’Keeffe decided to achieve a new high in festival playing and climbed the scaffold to the top of the stage and played some riffs from there! I know he did this at Download last year, but this time he was actually standing on the top! Class. On his way down, intentionally or not, he looked like there was a moment where he was gonna fall! If he had, youtube would be getting a new viral phenomenon! He didn’t though. They finished the set and we meandered across to see Motorhead.

Mark found some energy and managed to get out of his tent for the first time since Friday and met us during Motorhead’s set. I’ve never seen them before. Like never ever. Must’ve played at 5-6 festivals I’ve been at over the years, but I’ve never seem them, so this was summat I had to finally check out. They were good. It was like they were playing in a pub with a few of their mates in the crown. No heirs and graces, no rock star attitudes, just three old school rockers playing loud rock music for the hell of it!

After Motorhead we scooched across for whoever was on second stage. Turned out it was Opeth and none of us like Opeth, so we checked the guide. Fortunately, Cancer Bats were on in a mo, so we headed to the Bohemia tent to watch them! We got there pretty quick, so we actually managed to get in the tent! Didn’t watch all their set as we wanted to scooch back over for Limp Bizkit. Cancer Bats were good though. They had a pretty decent sound and a good response. The singer Liam Cormier is a really good character to have fronting a band. Full of energy and really gets you into the spirit of the music! Anyway, they played ‘Sabotage’ and we did one….

Limp Bizkit

Limp Bizkit - Durst, Borland & Lethal

Twas time for the Bizkit! I love Limp Bizkit. They’re just fun to listen to. The came onstage and got right into it. OK, my one gripe is that they seem to play far too much off ‘Chocolate Starfish’. I get that it was probably their biggest record and scored them a number one single, but come on!!!! We got, Hot Dog, My Generation, Rollin, Take a Look Around, Boiler, and from the other four albums (new one included) we got Faith, Break Stuff, Douchebag…. That is all! No Gold Cobra in sight, and I’d been singing it all weekend!!!

They were class though. Last few times I’ve seen them, they’ve not seemed particularly into it. On this day though, they seemed in top form, with Durst looking unusually up for a full day of rocking! Can someone please get them to headline a festival, or even get a decent headlining tour so we can see more songs of other albums!!!! Please? “Whaddya wanna hear?” Said Durst… “PLAY F**KING POLLUTION!”

The rain was still coming down and ruining everything, but we soldiered on to watch Bill Bailey. We were all borderline ‘sod this, let’s go’ but persevered. Now, generally I’m in two minds over Bill Bailey. I’ve seen him on panel shows and he’s ace. I saw some of one of his DVD’s where he was playing tunes and having a laugh and it was good. But I have seen one of his DVD’s and I just didn’t get it and it put me off watching him. His Sonisphere videos did make me laugh though, so maybe watching him would brighten my mood on this dreary day!

Me & my ace poncho

Rain. Still Shit.

It did. He was indeed top class. Walking on stage with a mask of himself on, throwing out a few jokes, some novelty videos and playing some comedy rock tunes and it was all good fun. His Rammstein version of Scarborough Fair was class. He had an amazing reception too, considering it was a comedy performance at a rock/metal festival AND it was pissing down. He said on the day it was the biggest crowd for a comedy performance ever. Have to do some fact checking for that! He ended the set with his horns version of Metallica’s ‘Enter Sandman’, making it the third time in three days I’d heard it! Enjoyable, and something different for a festival!

Rain, rain, rain, rain, rain! Thank god my poncho was good! I had my rucksack on over my stomach cause I couldn’t get it on properly under the poncho and I looked like I was heavily pregnant and soaking wet! Didn’t even have my wellies, but my trainers remained mostly dry due to the large shadow my pregnant belly caused! …and on to Slipknot!

Slipknot

Slipknot

We were literally ready to go now! The ‘Knot came on and after 5 minutes of weird noises and flashy lights, they started. Straight into (sic). Then Eyeless, then Wait & Bleed. Thought they were gonna do the whole first album (which would have been ace) but they didn’t. We left before they finished, but did hear Left Behind, Before I Forget, Liberate and a few others. Could hear Heretic Anthem and Duality on the walk to the car! They were pretty damned good, but the shitty weather and long drive home got the better of us, so we hit the road!

Another festival over. Next year, maybe?

A couple of days and a couple of hangovers had passed since the weekends festivities, Watching the boxing, watching the Cavalera Brothers, and it was now time to head down south to sunny Stevenage. Home to Knebworth House. Home to Sonisphere 2011.

I’d been pretty much packed from Saturday having sent my bag down with Jim due to a severe lack of car space in the Astra, yet still when Wednesday night rolled around I still felt completely unprepared. Tent – check, sleeping bags – check, torch – in wrong bag, but check, pillow – check, food – check, tickets – check. Gravy. Let’s go.

We swooped down to London (Enfield to be precise) on the Wednesday evening so we could meet up with the fourth member of out travelling crew and to get a lie-in in the morning. Unfortunately, there was naff all on the telly, so we were forced to sit through American Pie. Sleep could not come quick enough! …and it really didn’t! The couch wasn’t comfortable.

Anyways, the following morning our initial 4-man posse was complete. We grabbed some breakfast from Tesco, a few last-minute bits n bobs then rammed the car full of stuff and headed on our merry way. A swift 30 minute journey later and TA-DAAAAAAA. We were at Sonisphere.

Only a short stroll from the car to the gate this year, and given that we were 3 hours early, we were near the front of the queue. We did the only thing we could do with 3 hours to spare. We cracked open the first of many tinnies! Fatal flaw, I took a swig of some rather oddly flavoured Absinthe that I’d got on holiday many years ago. It was minging. Made me feel instantly sick and made me feel sick again with every Absinthe flavoured burp for the next 6 hours. Mark, on the other hand, hammered down a whole miniature of the stuff. This was the beginning of the end for him!

Mark drinking the first of many

Mark - It was all downhill from here

2 hours later and they opened the gates. Yup, opened ‘em early. No wonder we usually get a shit spot! Not today though, we pretty much had our pick of the field. We grabbed a spot near where we were last year (only there was a tree there this year which I didn’t remember) and proceeded to pitch TEN EFFING TENTS!! That’s right, of our 11 man party only 4 of us were able to get there early enough to get a decent spot. So we had to carry everyone’s tent down with us! Between 3 of us, we got 9 done while mark fought to the death with his.

And there we sat and drank, under the mixed bag of clouds and blazing sun! Mark had developed a knack of managing to divert the rainclouds away using positive thoughts! Shame he spent most of Saturday in his tent sleeping while it was thrashing it down outside!

We drank onwards until it was dark, then sparked up the barbie. It was at this glorious moment that Jim decided to arrive, so after burger number 1, myself and Ross had to go find him. He had our bags. Jim claimed he was at the main entrance, so out the gates to the main entrance we jogged… only for him to tell us he was at a different entrance! GRRRR!

Having pretty much done a lap of the entire campsite and arena, we found him and marched back to the tents to find a dead barbeque. Nice. So we carried on drinking ‘til it was time for a kip.

Adam & Beer Bong

Maverick with his beloved Beer Bong

Friday: The Big Four Day.
Woke up bright and early (as per usual at festivals), so geekily, I read a few chapters of my book ‘Hell Bent For Leather’ by Seb Hunter (Metalheads, read this book. It’s class). Then proceeded to head out, make a brew and start on breakfast (bag of crisps and an apple) then hit the cider. The remaining 6 members of our group were due to arrive throughout the morn, so we whiled away the hours laughing at all the usual festival weirdos and the bunch of idiots that had camped next to us… and Mark, who’d gone on some mad sleepwalking adventure.

Everyone had now arrived, sorted out their stuff and been formally introduced. Time to go watch some bands then. We were not really bothered about Diamond Head so used the time to down a few more cans. Most of us using the standard from-the-can method, Adam using the beer-bong method.

We stomped into the arena ready for the first band of the day (that we wanted to watch). It was the first of the Big Four – Anthrax. Now, I’m not the greatest Anthrax follower in the world, but they were pretty good. Watched them at Soni last year too. I’d noticed that the gleaming scalp of Scott Ian was missing from the ‘Thrax line up and I was told he was away (for reasons I forget. Wife had a baby, maybe?), but didn’t know who’d replaced him until about half way through their set, when I heard a familiar accent talking. As I turned and said: “is that Andreas Kisser up there…” They blazed into the intro to Sepultura’s ‘Refuse/Resist’. So yeah, it was. Also, pretty sure it wasn’t gonna be the last time I heard that song this weekend!

Ross, Me & Jim

Me & Jim in "Same Hat Shocker" w/ Ross looking cool

Next up was the band that I’d been banging on about for some time. Megadeth. Right, there’s been this running joke with our group for a while about how MegaDave Mustaine finishes the set. I have a CD of them performing a song, and at the end he says “you’ve been great, we’ve been Megadeth” in his croaky voice and it cracks me up every time I hear it. Last year at Download, even though we’d been building it up all day, we weren’t expecting to hear him actually say it, so myself and Jodz (massive Megadeth fan) casually chatted at the end of the ‘Deth’s set…. And he said it!! And everyone else apart from me and him heard it! Gutted.

MegaDave

MegaDave Mustaine on't big screen

This year though, we stood our ground, and after a blistering set of tunes including Hangar 18, Peace Sells, A Toute Le Monde, Sweating Bullets and more, we were silently waiting… and irritating Jodz about it through the medium of text! There was a moment where it was all over and it wasn’t heard. We remained disappointed. Then big Dave walked to the mic… “YOU’VE BEEN GREAT……… WE’VE BEEN MEGADETH”.

…and my weekend was complete!

Next up was Slayer. Now, in regards to Slayer I had to make a tough decision. I decided not to watch them. Given my plan of festival times, I’d worked out that by missing Slayer I could infact watch The Black Dahlia Murder, Black Breath and Protest the Hero if I ran about quick enough. So we did.

We nipped into the Bohemia tent and caught 20 minutes of Black Dahlia Murder’s set and it was cool, sound aside. Sound in tents is always a bit shit. Then we headed over to the Jagermeister stage in time to watch Black Breath. Now these guys were feckin amazing. The sound was raw and full of that filthy Scandinavian guitar groove that Entombed made famous. Enjoyed every minute of these guys, even with some bass issues, and when you’re at the Jager stage, you’re really close to the action too!

Black Breath

Black Breath - Action Shot

After they’d finished, we headed over to another tent (forgotten the name of this one) to watch Protest the Hero. They’re on the list of bands I’ve ignored in the past only to come to like. We got to the tent and it was rammed. They weren’t letting anyone in. So we hovered for a bit to hear ‘em start, but it sounded crap from outside, so we wandered towards the main stage to wait for Metallica. Fortunately, Slayer were still on and we managed to catch the last few songs of their set. RAINING BLOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOD!!!

Food and a beer later and we were waiting on Metallica. They came out, all guns blazing and nailed a stormer of a set. It was not necessarily a greatest hits performance but a career spanning showcase of skills and songs form their illustrious 30 year history. NO, I’m not a fan of the new stuff so was grateful they only played ‘All Nightmare Long’ but they did, for some unknown reason, throw into the set ‘The Memory Remains’. Not exactly their finest four, but to be fair, it got a massive sing/chant along going. Me included!. They played all the usual faves, Enter Sandman, Master of Puppets, One, Creeping Death and banged out a few tunes I’ve not heard in a long time. Welcome Home (Sanitarium), The Shortest Straw and others. Classic stuff.

Metallica

Metallica

As expected, they did the Big Four jam, which, if you look at it might as well have been the Big Seven jam, as Diamond Head’s Brian Tatler got up to play ‘Am I Evil’ and Sepultura’s Andreas Kisser (Covering for Scott Ian) and Exodus’ Gary Holt (Covering for Jeff Hanneman) were also up there! Was a pretty cool moment to catch, and of the footage I’ve seen previously of this moment, I was surprised to see Kerry King up there too!

And there we draw the bands of day one to a close. …but not the events!

We got back to our circle of 10 tents to find that some…. TWATS had decided to pitch their tent right in the middle of our circle. Cue 11 very unhappy people. We marched over (well, I marched over) and told them to up sticks and shift! The cheek of it! If we’d arrived that late, we’d have had to go find a pitch miles away. As it was, we’d made the effort to get there early to have a decent pitch, so I’ll be damned if I was letting them steal it! After I’d calmed down a touch, we said they could move in the morning, but they shifted there and then anyway. Apparently I scared them! That’s gotta be a first!

Tunes on and beers downed and it was time to hit the sack and leave Mark to claim the throne as Last Man Standing.

….oh, and i met ‘The Edge’ of U2 fame!

Me with The Edge from U2

Me with The Edge from U2

Part 2 coming soon….