Published July 12, 2011
For a festival whose main acts have all appeared recently (some regularly) in the UK at other festivals, to generate such excitement – and to completely sell out – is quite an achievement, but Sonisphere managed to achieve a winning combination in 2011.

The Hertfordshire festival managed to secure the first ever UK performance by the Big Four of thrash metal, the first UK performance by Slipknot since the death of bassist Paul Gray, and a range of bands across the three days – from the Sisters of Mercy to House of Pain – to produce something for everyone.

The main downside of the festival was that it kicked off, rather than ended with the highlight for most people: Anthrax, Megadeth, Slayer and Metallica successively on the same stage.

There were a few surprises throughout the Friday too: Anthrax covering Sepultura’s Refuse/Resist, Megadeth debuting a new song, Metallica being joined by members of Slayer, Megadeth, Anthrax, Sepultura, Exodus and Diamond Head for a massive jam.

Highlights of the rest of the weekend included Weezer interrupting their own uplifting set with a cover of Radiohead’s Paranoid Android; Bill Bailey making the assorted 60,000 laugh constantly in what was apparently the biggest ever comedy gig; The Cancer Bats performing a set of Black Sabbath songs; and Richard Cheese’s unique take on rock and rap classics.

London band Panic Cell performed their last ever live set on the Saturday, while up-and-coming band Tesseract had a massive queue outside the tent for their performance. Brentwood group InMe, who had been upgraded from the fourth to the third stage for 2011, were once again able to fill out a tent.

And despite festival prices for food and drink being as steep as elsewhere, touches like keeping the station to site shuttle bus free, and still having a cash bar kept the event feeling like value-for-money for another year.

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