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We started early and it paid off, the first band of the weekend, Amplifier, were great: sure there’s only three of them but there’s loads going on in this prog stoner hard rock sound. Next up was Bullets And Octane who were recently in the UK supporting Avenged Sevenfold, and sure they may be this year’s attempt at reviving the Sunset Strip’s ‘80s heyday, but shit can they wail – great songs from great showmen. Running between tents we caught the latter half of Coheed And Cambria who – as usual – were unbelievable; particularly the extended vocodered guitar freak out – genius. Atreyu were great, nailing both new tunes and classics alike. Tool were good if a little boring. Maynard spent the entire gig writhing topless on the drum riser and the video screens only showed Tool videos – the show just didn’t translate out of the headphone onto the outdoor stage where the more instant rock and metal anthems work better through the wind.
Brightonians Johnny Truant are as tight and brutal as ever despite their new guitarist Reuben Gotto have had only a handful of practise hours with the band. Exit Ten were way down the line-up, and this may have been their largest audience to date, but the Reading boys held their own through less-than-perfect sound, singer Ryan working the crowd like a pro. By the time Sikth hit the Snickers Stage the tent was chock full (at only midday) which is good news for Britain’s Answer To Slipknot™, but while it was packed the crowd were hardly movers or shakers. Trivium debuted some of their new material which had people looking at each other wondering whether the band know how much like Metallica they sound: from the riffing to Matt Heafy’s new vocal style. Killing Joke played to a lacklustre crowd in the MySpace tent as most punters headed to the main stage for Metallica, who deftly ripped through the entire of Master Of Puppets and other thrash classics. For many this performance was the highlight of the festival.
Dragonforce were by far the freshest thing on the menu, and had 70,000 people eating out of their hands, waving plastic swords and chanting ‘Through The Fire And Flames’. All six of the band were running around like madmen, never failing to exact their light-speed and technically difficult guitar manoeuvres. Genius. 36 Crazyfists were next on the same stage and had a hard act to follow, not least because singer, Brock Lindow had broken his voice and was all but unable to thank the crowd. Despite the setback the boys debuted new songs like, ‘I’ll Go Until My Heart Stops’ as well as older numbers from their previous albums – a great show all thing considered. Eighteen Visions put on a great show despite the fact that most people had headed off to the main stage to watch Bullet For My Valentine and the crowd was thin. Bullet themselves were amazing, proving that they have what it takes to become a great band who can handle themselves in the thrones of rock gods. Another weekend highlight was Canadian quintet Alexisonfire whose near perfect set was a brilliant live rendering of the band’s glorious scream/sung rock/metal anthemia. Guns n’ Roses? You’ll have to wait for the review in an upcoming issue of Metal Hammer…