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Sonisphere Festival 2014, at Hietaniemen Ranta

Photo of Metallica

Band Photo: Metallica (?)

Sonisphere Festival returned to Finland last week, to start off the festival season in Helsinki with a bang! Despite the fact that it is Spring and we’ve had hot weather rivaling the Mediterranean this year; we were instead treated to a cold downpour, which only the bravest of metal fans dared endure. Despite the less then summery weather, the turnout was dense, though admittedly covered in less then festive rainwear.

The dark sky was a glaring contrast to the laid back vibe of the festival hosted by Live Nation. Still the atmosphere remained upbeat; as Metallica and Slayer were to be headlining; and the instinct to nest indoors was trampled by the drive to see two such legends live!

Gojira was first onstage for the day, and cheered up the cold crowd with their extreme antics! They burst into music with “Explosia”, to the pleasure of the eagerly waiting audience! The stage became their racetrack, as they ran around the generous catwalk inciting cheers and smiles from the initially miserable audience. Despite facing technical difficulties later in their set, Gojira succeeded in starting the day off on an energetic note. It’s a shame that they only played four songs, as this is a band that definitely leaves one wanting more!

Next up from the UK was Swedish Ghouls Ghost! Even if one is not a fan of the more pop oriented music, it’s impossible to not fall under the spell of Papa Emeritus II, and his eerie presence. As he purposefully strode along the catwalk, it was impossible to shake the feeling that he had some vital message to share, and share he did; stopping every now and then to interact with the grateful audience. Calming, yet still somehow unsettling, this is a band that leaves a lasting mark on the audience.

Following Ghost was Mastodon! They had a spot of bad luck, with some technical difficulties that frontman Troy Sanders did his best to distract from with silly jigs and comical antics. Despite the smiles, it was completely obvious that the band seemed frustrated with the circumstances. Still, they gave an amazing performance that lived up to my expectations, though their enthusiasm at this point was lacking just a bit.

As the torrential rain continued, it became difficult for those of us with camera equipment to safely be outdoors, so unfortunately this photographer did not get to be in the audience for Danzig and Slayer. I took refuge in the press tent where there was hot coffee and listened to the performance of Danzig and Slayer while safe and dry. From the opening in the doorway, I could see that at this point, one could say it was raining sideways, which only solidified my resolve to hide from the elements. I could hear the loyal cheers of Danzig and Slayer fans who did brave the weather, and they were not to be disappointed! Both bands gave amazing energy back, and it shows exactly why both bands have made such a mark on Rock and Metal history.

Finally, the most anticipated act of the day was about to take the stage! Metallica played a very special set, based fully on audience requests! It was possible to vote via text message for songs, and I’m a bit ashamed to admit that my phone bill will be quite high this month. They opened up with “Battery”, and it was only up from there! The high moments of the set were “Master of Puppets” “For Whom the Bell Tolls” and a tear inducing rendition (in my case, though I’m sure I wasn’t alone!) of “The Unforgiven”. James Hetfield was at ease with the cold but frantically excited audience, making jokes about our Finnish summer and lifting the spirits of those who felt a bit cheated by the mini monsoon.

During the encore we were rewarded for our fortitude with the premiere performance of “The Frayed Ends of Sanity”! As we walked towards the entrance, and towards a warm ride home, I could hear the upbeat riffs and cheery vocals of “Whiskey in the Jar” the whole way. If there is one advantage to the wind and rain, it’s that it carried the performances throughout the city, so that everyone likely got to hear from these legends!

Check back soon for photos from the day!

WandererOfKalevala's avatar

Rachel Roth has studied classical music and folk music at the University level, and enjoys studying Folklore in her spare time. She is an avid metal and folk music fan lucky enough to be living in Helsinki, Finland. Currently, she has expanded her love of music to include photography and freelance writing. You can see more of her photography here or at liliumphotography.com.

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