Sonisphere Finland, Helsinki, 28/05/14

Sonisphere was a day of A-list metal acts on the beach, and the locals didn't let the gloomy rain spoil their fun. Metallica played a By Request set to finish off a day of metal with fellow Big Four thrashers Slayer. Also on the bill were Danzig, Mastodon, Ghost and Gojira.

It’s late spring in Finland, but the weather this Wednesday decided to ignore that missive to instead deliver a cold day full of drizzle. Normally this would be a great incentive to stay home, but Sonisphere 2014 was invading Hietaniemi Beach in Helsinki. Headlined by Metallica and Slayer, this was not a festival many wanted to miss for a little bad weather. So raincoats were found, coats dragged from storage and gumboots donned. Inevitably the theme of the afternoon drags towards plastic raincoats and an event review turns out like an ongoing weather report. 

Grey skies threatened as Gojira took the stage, but the Frenchmen took the chill wind and technical difficulties in stride to deliver a short but masterful set. Frontman Joe Duplantier ran down the catwalk in vocal breaks, almost skipping with the freedom of the giant festival stage setup. More festival attendees clustered together into the VIP areas, the front pit and the drinking areas for warmth as the day drew on.

The wind over the sea had picked up, but the rain held off as the Nameless Ghouls of Ghost strode solemnly onstage. Papa Emeritus II made good use of the catwalk stage to get closer to his congregation, luring them forward and bestowing his favours upon a lucky few as he sang, observing his dominion. Mastodon battled the ever growing gloom and further technical difficulties to deliver a spirit lifting set full of their distinctive riffs. The crowds were deep and many people had chosen their spots to spend the rest of the night. Heads were nodding everywhere with the music as bassist Troy Sanders sang through the hair whipping across his face with the wind. 

Here our photo coverage of the bands stop, but I assure you that despite the oncoming drizzle the festival continued in high spirits. Danzig mustered a resilient performance as the crowd began to separate into the strong willed, and those who wanted something hot to drink. Over their long career, I imagine Slayer have played much worse conditions and put forth a characteristically solid show for the loyal fans standing out in the cold drizzle. A damp sandy moshpit of determined thrashers didn't let the icy drizzle stop their fun. When crowd favourite South Of Heaven made an appearance, I heard a large group of punters singing along at top volume from the drinking area, lifting their beers aloft to the stormy skies. 

Metallica came onstage rugged up for the conditions, ready to play a set-list chosen by the fans. Many crowd favourites made it to the setlist such as Master of Puppets, …And Justice For All, Sad But True and The Unforgiven. More importantly, the online voting for the “By Request” tour resulted in The Frayed Ends of Sanity being played live for the first time thanks to the Finnish fans. An extra song was to be chosen live via SMS voting during the course of the festival. I couldn’t help but think of the financial kickbacks from this, but chosen by the crowd was Whiskey In The Jar, with the other options being Creeping Death and Harvester of Sorrows. Finns are nothing but staunch so the beach was packed to the last dying notes of this year’s Sonisphere, no matter how cold and miserable the weather got.

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