Anthrax, Sonisphere UK Main Stage, July 8 2011

In the moments leading up to Sonisphere the marvellous spectacle of the Big Four had tantalised anyone remotely excited by all things thrash.

The history began with Anthrax – leading the titanic quartet of thrash metal legends into battle for an all-in-one destructive line-up on a Friday afternoon that would lead well into late night. 

Anthrax main man Scott Ian might have been missing for the birth of his first child, but their metal spirit roused them to raise the bar unexpectedly high for the other three acts to follow.  Of course, when your band replacement is Sepultura’s Andreas Kisser, you certainly have a proportionally bigger constellation to cushion the blow of the missing founder member.

Like him or not, Joey Belladonna returned to the fray last year and the oldest member of the Big Four did his very best to entertain and succeeded – the high notes rarely missed in his vocal eruptions and the showman’s energy was consistently evident.

Anthrax opened with Caught In A Mosh, a safe choice by all accounts to really rile the masses, but who could blame them for not taking a gamble of any sort? Antisocial peaked crowd involvement by their third song, but it was the 80s classic Indians, from the Among The Living album, that followed up to glue the collective feeling with its catchy singalong chorus.

But the five-piece didn’t stick exclusively to the oldies – after all many fans are eagerly awaiting their first album in eight-years – Worship Music – finally due out in September.  We got a snippet of Fight ‘Em Till You Can’t, which suggests they’re going for ‘if it’s not broken don’t fix it’ approach.  It’s more of the same, but there certainly weren’t any complaints from the many enjoying their tight work.

Whilst this wasn’t a mind-shattering performance, Anthrax did more than enough to get the rest of the Big Four thinking – especially Dave Mustaine’s Megadeth who would take the stage just minutes after.

Calum Robson