Sonisphere Review 2011: The Defiled, Hammer Of The Gods, Diamond Head
Hammer Of The Gods
Emerging on stage in togas and Roman armour, Hammer Of The Gods open the Jagermeister stage in theatrical style. It’s crushing, riffy-as-Hades and generally filthy, the barefooted legion make absolutely bloody sure everyone’s well and truly awake and ready for the weekend ahead with a raging display of sludgy goodness. The Maximus Decimus Meridius masks are a nice touch, and while it all does look rather silly (grown men in togas with barefeet playing dirty metal? O….K…) it’s a strong start to the festival.
Two years ago, no one seemed to know who they were. This year, they’ve got a positive throng of devotees down the front who know all the words. The Defiled’s rise has been rapid, and while they take a few songs to reach full speed, once in top gear that rise becomes clear. When in full flight and with that trademark snarl on their lips, they play with real acerbic venom and get the pulse raising. The AvD is at his most gloriously bonkers (if you’re at the barrier in front of him, you’re braver than us) from the start, but there’s a curious spark to their acceleration today. After asking who in the crowd went to see each of the first three of the Big Four, he asks how many of the crowd are buggering off early to catch Metallica and a large slice of the crowd raise their hands. The entire band immediately up their game, and a good performance becomes a dramatically stronger one immediately. If they can keep that up, bigger stages would appear to beckon.
It would be easy to be cynical about Diamond Head’s position on the bill – Metallica’s favourite band, the Am I Evil? ensembles you’ve all seen on YouTube by now, etc – but they’re certainly not here to make up the numbers. The NWOBHM riffs and leads sound fresh and vital, and the band themselves look intent on grabbing this opportunity with both hands. They may not have as many hits as the band they’re opening the Apollo Stage before, but in the most mighty company you’re likely to see on a festival stage, they can hold their heads high. As THAT song makes its first appearance of the day, you can see exactly why tonight’s headliners were so inspired all those years ago. As a diminutive Danish drummer mentions later, without Brian Tatler and Diamond Head, this show would be impossible- for this alone, they would earn their place on this bill. Their performance cements that merit.