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June 12, 2021

Sonisphere: Reinventing live music for the 21st century

Four words: Metallica, Slayer, Megadeth and Anthrax. It is that simple. It was much speculated, but it never happened before, for the thrash metal’s big four to share the same stage at a single gig. They are about to make heavy metal history in Bucharest

Metallica- the living legends

Metallica has become one of the most influential heavy metal bands, and is credited as one of the “big four” of thrash metal, along with Slayer, Anthrax, and Megadeth. The band has sold more than 100 million records worldwide. The writers of The Rolling Stone Encyclopedia of Rock & Roll felt Metallica gave heavy metal “a much-needed charge”. Stephen Thomas Erlewine and Greg Prato of Allmusic said Metallica, “expanded the limits of thrash, using speed and volume not for their own sake, but to enhance their intricately structured compositions”, calling the band “easily the best, most influential heavy metal band of the ‘80s, responsible for bringing the music back to Earth.” Metallica began on October 28, 1981, when drummer Lars Ulrich and singer/guitarist James Hetfield met in LA and decided to form a band. It would go on to be a legendary heavy metal band and one of the best selling and longest lasting musical acts in history.

The band released …And Justice for All in 1988. It reached No.6 on the Billboard 200, their first in the Top 10, and was also responsible for the band’s first Grammy nomination in 1989. Not until 1992 would they win for their next album, the self-titled Metallica — also known as The Black Album – which featured tracks such as “Enter Sandman” and “Sad But True”. Infighting within the band drew out its production, yet in spite of that it quickly hit No.1 on the charts and remains the 26th best-selling album of all time in America. If The Black Album’s softer touch (relatively speaking) initiated cries that Metallica had sold out, those cries were turned up to 11 with 1996’s Load. On March 7, 1999, Metallica was inducted into the San Francisco Walk of Fame.

Performance day: June 26

Megadeth- a full chapter in metal history

Megadeth is an American heavy metal band from Los Angeles, formed in 1983. Founded by guitarist/vocalist Dave Mustaine and bassist David Ellefson following Mustaine’s departure from Metallica, the band has since released twelve studio albums, six live albums, two EPs, twenty six singles, thirty-two music videos, and three compilations. As a pioneer of the American thrash metal movement, Megadeth rose to international fame in the 1980s and was ranked as one of the “Big Four of Thrash”, along with Metallica, Slayer, and Anthrax, who were responsible for creating, developing and popularizing the thrash metal sub-genre. Megadeth has experienced numerous line-up changes, due partly to the band’s notorious substance abuse problems. From 1983 to 2002, Mustaine and Ellefson were the only continuous members of the band. After finding sobriety and securing a stable line-up, Megadeth went on to release a string of platinum and gold albums, including the platinum-selling landmark Rust in Peace in 1990 and the Grammy nominated, multi-platinum Countdown to Extinction in 1992. Megadeth disbanded in 2002 after Mustaine suffered a severe nerve injury to his left arm. However, following extensive physical therapy, Mustaine reformed the band in 2004 and released The System Has Failed, followed by United Abominations in 2007. Megadeth, along with their new lead guitarist Chris Broderick, released their twelfth studio album, titled Endgame, on September 15, 2009, which debuted at no 9 on the Billboard 200. Megadeth is known for its distinctive instrumental style, often featuring dense, intricate passages and trade off guitar solos

Performance day: June 26

Anthrax- a delight for metalheads

Perhaps the most underrated of the Big Four, Anthrax are sure to make the Sonisphere audience go Metal Thrashing Mad. Often hailed as one of the originators of thrash metal, Anthrax have been melting faces since 1981, and have been integral to the development of metal as we know it today. Famous for smashing the boundaries of the genre, they were amongst the first to unite metal with hardcore punk, and later even combine Rap into their music with their Public Enemy collaboration. Never a band to take themselves too seriously, Anthrax are all about having a great time, with lyrics about raising hell (as well as the odd comic book character), and a live show that’s like a madhouse.

Anthrax first thrashed onto the metal radar with their 1984 debut Fistful Of Metal, which managed to climb to Number 8 in the UK charts. However, vocalist Neil Turbin and bassist Dan Lilker were fired and eventually replaced by Joey Belladonna and Frank Bello, on vocals and bass respectively. These additions formed the legendary 80’s ‘Thrax lineup, consisting of Joey, Frank, Scott Ian, Dan Spitz and Charlie Benante, which went on to forge some of the most adored thrash albums of the genre’s golden age, such as Spreading The Disease, Among The Living and Persistence Of Time. 1993 then brought us the similarly prestigious era of John Bush on vocals, starting with Sound Of White Noise. This brought up a challenging dilemma for metalheads, which has been a hot topic of debate for years: Joey or John?

About the Big Four event on Saturday, Scott Ian said in an interview with festival organizers: “We have been talking about this for 20 years, but it’s really happening now. From the perspective of a fan alone, this would be unbelievably great, but to think you get to perform there, with the titans… It’s going to be magnificent!”

Performance day: June 26

Slayer- a band like a scream

Apparently, you just don’t say “Slayer“, you shout it until your throat is raw, with your horns raised high.. Nearly 30 years on, these Southern California musicians prove that age doesn’t matter when it comes to making genre defining music. Going back to the start of the mayhem, ‘Show No Mercy‘was their first album back in 1983, which they financed themselves, showing clearly you don’t need tens of millions to produce kick-ass metal. It was during this time that Kerry King joined Megadeth only to come back after five shows. ‘Hell Awaits’ soon followed which was accompanied by their first home video. It was clear now that they had something special in their lockers as musicians.

‘Reign in Blood’ followed in 1986. New album deal, first certified gold sales, produced by Rick Rubin, Lombardo leaving and coming back, plenty of controversy and rave reviews. The album is considered by many the finest metal record to date. Several albums have followed (’South of Heaven’, ‘Seasons in the Abyss’, ‘Divine Intervention’, ‘Undisputed Attitude’, ‘Diabolus in Musica’,’ God Hates Us All’, ‘Christ Illusion’) which bring us to the current record, ‘World Painted Blood’ – still as raw, fast and metal as ever. Slayer has been churning out raw, passionate music for close to three decades. Controversy has always followed close by but, if you like metal, quality lyrics and music, you love Slayer.

Slayer’s musical traits involve fast tremolo picking, atonal guitar solos, double bass drumming, and shouting vocals. The band’s lyrics and album art, which cover topics such as serial killers, Satanism, religion and warfare have generated album bans, delays, lawsuits and strong criticism from religious groups and the public.

Performance day: June 26

Rammstein, the heavyweights of industrial metal

Not many bands have actually been imprisoned for their live show, but Rammstein have managed it. An industrial maelstrom of churning guitars and striking keyboard riffs, the German band’s music conjures up powerful images of everything from America to German marriage vows, Till Lindemann’s gruff vocals turning the industrial complex that is Rammstein from a mere industrial band to a band with vision and inspiration; a band which, where all others have failed, still uses vocals in its native language, not the American English adopted by many bands. Formed in the wake of the Soviet Union’s control in East Germany, Rammstein truly arose out of nothing but ashes, and yet their phoenix refuses to burn any less brightly since its fiery creation, the band remaining as much visionaries as musicians. It is powerful music, as listeners appreciated when their second album, ‘Sehnsucht’, rose straight to the top of the German album charts in Rammstein’s home country. Since then the band has gone from strength to strength, recording a stunning selection of albums right up until their newest offering, ‘Liebe ist für alle da’. Yet they could not have done this without an impressive live show. Often shunned by the media for controversial lyrics, their albums are constantly supported by waves of touring that seem to suggest un-ending vigour. Their shows themselves have been immortalised in several live albums. A truly great band, standing head and shoulders above most other bands, they have inspired many musical movements while consistently failing to conform to stereotypes and constantly shock and entertain the World with their live shows and studio recordings.

Performance day: June 27 (for the first time in Romania)

Sonisphere schedule and access

Friday, June 25

Accept, Manowar, Volbeat, Paradise Lost, Orphaned Land

Saturday, June 26

Metallica, Slayer, Megadeth and Anthrax, Vita de Vie

Sunday, June 27

Rammstein, Alice in Chains, Stone Sour, Anathema, Luna Amara

Access to the Sonisphere Festival, taking place in the Capital on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, will be allowed starting 14:00, and concerts are due to end at 23:00. The two access points in the concert area are the Romexpo entrances from the Presei Avenue and the Expozitiei Boulevard.

Event preparation info

The stage used during the three days of the festival is one of the largest such structures in the world. It is of comparable size to the one used during the AC/DC concert to Romania and it has 1500 square metres in surface, 20 metres in height and weighs no less than 150 tonnes. It is brought and will be erected in Romania by one of the major stage-setting companies in the world – StageCo. As far as the sound system is concerned, it is one of the most up-to-date and will involve the use of over 100 loud speakers which will rock Romexpo during the three days of the festival, whereas the concerts will be projected on huge led screens. Lights will be arranged in different configurations every night, according to the requests and shows of each of the bands appearing before the Romanian public. Over 2,000 KW will be needed and the bands Metallica and, particularly, Rammstein will use an entire arsenal of sensational pyrotechnic effects, which will, most definitely, make it a night to remember! The technical and production part of the Tuborg Green Fest presented by Sonisphere Festival is assembled and coordinated by a 500 people-strong team from Germany and Romania.

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