When Slam Dunk formed in 2006 it had a bill of 7 bands at a sole location in Leeds with a small capacity of a few thousand, skip to 12 years on and oh my has it grown! Whether you’re reliving your mid-2000’s singing along to the likes of Taking Back Sunday or throwing yourself into the heart of California in the 90’s with the likes of Reel Big Fish, this festival has really developed into a three-location monster of a day out. What better way to start off the day than with getting your rear end torn open by Brutality Will Prevail on the ever hardcore Impericon Stage. Continue reading
Over three consecutive dates in May the 2018 Slam Dunk Festival will bring the best in punk bands and killer concert experiences to the UK. The festival will bring the same core of bands to three separate locations this spring as bands like Good Charlotte, Jimmy Eat World, State Champs, PVRIS, The Devil Wears Prada, Astroid Boys, Brutality Will Prevail, Loathe, Every Time I Die, Northlane, Comeback Kid, Crown The Empire, Counterparts and many more for the bill. In addition, The Breakout Stage features the best in up and coming talent such as Palaye Royale, Sleep On It, Stand Atlantic, Milestones, Chapel, Dream State, The FAIM, Grayscale and Holding Absence. There is also the Acoustic stage featuring Four Year Strong and The Fireball Stage and more! The 2018 fest takes place across Leeds, Hatfield and Birmingham and tickets are on sale at the links below. Continue reading
In the world of extreme metal, it is no longer good enough to simply go faster or harder than everyone else. We have (to steal a phrase) been there, done that and bought the t-shirt. To be truly distinguished requires a level of focus, innovation and forensic aural blood-letting. Continue reading
Something is stirring on the fetid island of Great Britain at the moment as rearing their ugly heads is a new breed worshipping the deathly hallows. One of the emerging hydra-heads are South Wales outfit Venom Prison, a band who made their mark on Temples Festival earlier in 2015 and have followed it up in some style, with their début EP The Primal Chaos (Soaked In Torment).
A noisy, aggressive fucker combining death metal (old and new) with elements of hardcore, with a powerful live feel that keeps the fists flailing while sluicing a “proper” death metal feel over the riffs that have origins in over 25 years of the sickest end of metal, from Scream Bloody Gore (Combat) to more contemporary death metal acts.
“Our intentions whilst writing this EP was to really push forward on a Death Metal vibe” begins guitarist Ash Gray. “It took a lot of binning songs that were written to get to the point the EP is at. It’s a new band, so finding our feet with our sound is very important to us at the moment, but I think we are heading in the right direction.”
Mixing modern death metal without the clickiness and sterility too many contemporary bands inflict on nauseated ears, and with a natural hardcore feel to it but without heading into breakdown overload territory, The Primal Chaos has a great feeling of balance to it. Gray is happy to acknowledge the main ingredients in the Venom Prison melting pot, pointing out “We aren’t interested in triggered drums that sound like machine guns. Don’t get me wrong, you can’t fault a rank slam band with hilarious snare and kick but that’s not what Venom Prison is about.
“Getting the balance for our songs is something that takes time. We didn’t fancy writing blast, beatdown, blast, beatdown, we wanted to make it a bit more legit and something that has character.” In the ultimate death metal vs hardcore streetfight, who wins out…? Glen Benton or Jamey Jasta? “I want to say Glen Benton, as Deicide and what he did in Vital Remains was sick but I’ve been into and going to hardcore shows for years, and Hatebreed got me into a lot of shit. I’m going with Jasta.”
“Venom Prison basically started with me and Larissa wanting to do a Death Metal band which is something different for both of us” continues Gray, quick to dismiss a past that includes his being in Brutality Will Prevail, a fact that, while an interesting footnote, is something he gives short shrift to. “(The) background to this band, I really think is irrelevant. Venom Prison is something that we wanted to start all over again and build up as a band, straight back to square one.”
After mentioning the bands break-out performance at Temples Festival, for a group that seemed quiet and polite, the onstage reality was a fervent blast of aggression and violence. So… where does that rage come from!? What happens when you enter the Venom Prison? “Everything that makes you mad, (you) just let it out when you play.”
And speaking of breakout, this calendar year has seen Venom Prison rise from unknowns to a band creating a buzz of anticipation around their next steps. “2015 has been pretty good to us” agrees Gray. “Shout out to John and Kaine from Soaked In Torment Records for wanting to put the seven-inch out and being a great help to the band.” So, what is next to escape the Venom Prison…?
“It’s time for an LP, which I can say is being worked on right now.”
WORDS BY STEVE TOVEY
Sunday sees the sun come out again, and the weekend rapidly coming to an end. To ease the pain of Sonisphere being over for another year, ska-punk legends Reel Big Fish run riot on the Bohemia stage with a setlist made up of happy-go-lucky, bouncy ska hits. Disappointingly, the sound cut out for ‘Where Have You Been’, causing the audience to flit between chanting to get the sound back on as soon as possible, to helping the band out singing along word for word when the chorus kicks in. The ever notorious ‘S.R’ (‘Suburban Rhythm’) and the bands penchant for playing parts of the song in varying genres throughout the duration gives fans a chance to skank, mosh and any other form of dance that tickles their fancy.
Boston-Irish punks Dropkick Murphys are next, their whisky soaked bar room anthems in full swing today, kicking off with the well suited ‘The Boys Are Back’ before following it up with raucous renditions of ‘Black Velvet Band’, ‘Johnny I Hardly Knew Ya’ and ‘Shipping Up To Boston’. Despite a hefty collection of songs from previous albums, the Celtic boys opt for playing a fair few from their 2013 album Signed & Sealed In Blood, and it’s a credit to the guys that these tracks are as well received as ones that have been around for years, ‘Rose Tattoo’ being a notable favourite of the crowd.
Over at the Apollo stage, grunge legends Alice In Chains are in full swing, singer William DuVall once again proving his worth as he throws himself around the stage, his vocals mixing perfectly with guitarist Jerry Cantrell’s harmonies. ‘Dam That River’, ‘Man in the Box’ and ‘Stone’ all make obvious appearances in the set, sounding as good now as they ever did back in the day. After their comeback five years ago, Alice In Chains certainly set the record straight for any disbelievers whose opinons may have ever swayed towards their comeback being an unsuccessful one.
Finally, Metallica bring the weekend to a blinding close, the songs they perform chosen entirely by Sonisphere attendees and fans who’ve spent the last few months casting their votes in the run up to the festival, some of whom were invited on-stage to announce them to the audience. Obviously, there were the odd grumble here and there as some songs are cut from their usual set list, but in all honesty, it’s hard to argue with the likes of ‘Enter Sandman’, ‘One’, ‘Nothing Else Matters’ and all the other hits they cram into their two hour performance. It’s a shame that the screens at each side of the stage were unfortunately hindered by the lack of backdrop due to some issues earlier on in the day, meaning that it wasn’t until dark that those of us vertically challenged and/or stood further to the back were able to watch the performance properly. Striding back on stage for their encore of ‘Whiskey In The Jar’, James Hetfield announces ‘…And Justice For All’ as the song that had won the vote from the ongoing polls, before ‘Seek and Destroy’ brings the main stage to a close for another year.
With just enough left in our vocal chords to have a sing along to some classic 90’s grunge, The Defiled top off the weekend with their ‘Nirvana Defiled’ set. Playing Kurt Cobain, singer Stitch pays homage and does justice to the raspy, gravelly vocals that Cobain was notorious for, as well as pulling off a performance whilst seemingly a little bit too tipsy. Playing the part of Courtney Love, The AvD wanders the stage in a skimpy dress as his band members crash their way through ‘Rape Me’, ‘Lithium’, ‘Heart Shaped Box’ before ending with the obvious choice ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’.
WORDS: EMMA QUINLAN
PHOTOS: COURTESY OF SONISPHERE (WITH PERMISSION)
With the dawn of Saturday morning comes the rain, but if ever there was a band to provide an antidote to the grey skies, it’s British classics Chas & Dave. Though somewhat hard to grasp that the Cockney legends are sharing the stage with the likes of Slayer and Carcass, there’s no doubt that Chas & Dave’s back catalogue of hits such as ‘Gertcha’, ‘Rabbit’ and ‘The Sideboard Song’ is the perfect way to ease those hangovers and build you up for the rest of the days music.
On the opposing Apollo stage, Ghost take to the stage. A band notoriously ridiculed for their ghoulish garb, they’ve still drawn a large crowd to watch their own brand of heavy doom metal. With a set list severely lacking in any major stand out hits, Papa Emeritus and his Nameless Ghouls still manage to keep the attention of the crowd, the grim grey skies providing the perfect backdrop to witness this Swedish six piece at their best.
Over in the Bohemia tent, Finnish glam metallers Reckless Love welcome an eager crowd in out of the rain, singer Olli Herman sending the girls insane with his leather clad hips thrusting and gyrating as he belts out ‘Animal Attraction’, ‘On The Radio’ and ‘Beautiful Bomb’. Akin to an ever so slightly more serious Steel Panther, Reckless Love certainly know how to fill a tent with both a huge audience and blistering, ear splitting hair metal.
Frank Turner makes his Sonisphere debut, and he clearly couldn’t be any happier that he’s got the chance to coincide this with performing on the same stage as his idols Iron Maiden, a fact that he makes no attempt at hiding throughout his set. It’s a shame then, that he plays to a disappointingly uninterested crowd, save for a handful of die hard fans down the front. Thankfully, it turns out that Frank and his Sleeping Souls put on a rip roaring performance regardless; from opening track ‘Photosynthesise’ to the ever poignant ‘Long Live The Queen’, right until set closer ‘Four Simple Words’.
Despite only playing their last ever gig barely a year and a half ago, Hundred Reasons regroup to play their rescheduled Sonisphere show after the last one was cancelled along with the whole festival back in 2012, with none other than ‘Ideas Above Our Station’ in it’s entirety. The album, released back in ’02, is wonderfully nostalgic; ageless songs such as ‘Answers’, ‘Falter’ and climactic closing song ‘Avalanche’ cause widespread sing-alongs across the entire crowd. It’s hard to walk away from the Saturn stage after watching such a performance knowing that there’ll be nothing from the Hundred Reasons camp any time soon, but it does instil hope in the hearts of their fans that this might not necessarily be a one-off show.
It’s Deftones time back over at the Apollo, and despite there being a good few moshpits and circle pits opening up nearer to the front of the stage, I find myself willing the band to end their fourteen song set by the time they’re only just halfway through. Whether it’s a combination of not knowing much of the material they played or a general lull in the afternoons atmosphere, the Californian five piece failed to entertain not only myself, but a good chunk of the audience who were stood further to the back.
Finally, the moment we’ve all been waiting for. Saturday night at Sonisphere 2014 plays host to the final date of an epic three year tour by Iron Maiden, and what better way to end it than for it to coincide with Knebworth’s 40th anniversary of hosting live music. Pulling out the big guns with plenty of fire canons, smoke and other pyro, their setlist is a triumph; crammed with all the hits from their forty year repertoire. With his unmistakeable ‘Scream for me Knebworth!’, Bruce Dickinson tells us we’re a ‘rowdy and thirsty bunch’ before launching into classics such as ‘Moonchild’, ‘Can I Play With Madness’, ‘The Trooper’, ‘Run To The Hills’, the list is endless. Even the ever changing backdrops and various versions of mascot Eddie are overshadowed by the blazing performance that Iron Maiden put on. Even for someone who might not be their biggest fan, it’s hard not to get caught up in the show. Welcomed back onstage for their encore by a recording of a Winston Churchill speech, the band hint towards a new album in the near future, before ending the evening on ‘Sanctuary’.
WORDS: EMMA QUINLAN
PHOTOS: COURTESY OF SONISPHERE (WITH PERMISSION)
July has felt somewhat empty since Sonisphere went on a two year hiatus after the disappointing line up of 2012 caused it to be cancelled, and completely left off the festival circuit in 2013. 2014, however, sees its triumphant return to the fields of Knebworth Park July 4th-6th, coincidentally celebrating its 40th anniversary of live music held in its legendary grounds.
To honour such an occasion, Sonisphere really has pulled out the big guns headliner-wise; Friday welcomes The Prodigy to the Apollo stage for the first time, with the likes of Limp Bizkit, Band Of Skulls, Gary Numan, Anti-Flag and The Defiled playing beforehand to get you in the mood. Across other stages on Friday, there’s Electric Wizard, Bam Margera’s Fuckface Unstoppable, Lostalone, Brutality Will Prevail, Black Spiders, Glamour Of The Kill amongst so many more.
Throughout the Saturday, there’s The Sisters Of Mercy, New Model Army, Reckless Love, The Virginmarys, Bleed From Within, Alestorm, Chas & Dave, Ghost, Frank Turner and Deftones to look forward to, before you’re faced with the impossible challenge of having to choose who to watch between Slayer and legends Iron Maiden headlining the Saturn and Apollo stages respectively. But wait; what’s that? There’s no need for tough decisions, you say? Thankfully, no, as Sonisphere UK is sticking with its age old tradition of alternate stage times, so no pesky clashes between the main and second stage!
Bringing the weekend to a close on Sunday evening is none other than Metallica (By Request!). With the exception of their final song, the band have left it entirely up to festival goers to vote and decide what their setlist will be. Is there one song you’ve spent years desperate to hear them play live, and never had the chance? Well, now’s the time. Head over to http://www.metallica.com/ and cast your votes! But before the weekend is over, there’s of course Dream Theatre, Alice in Chains, Mastodon, Reel Big Fish, Dropkick Murphys, Gojira, Therapy? (playing Infernal Love in its entirety), the list just goes on and on.
Sonisphere is renowned for its diverse line ups, bringing many genres across the metal/rock/alt scene to one festival. It’s been sorely missed the last two years, so make sure you don’t miss out on what will surely prove to be one hell of a welcome home party.
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