Sonisphere 2014: Gallows, Krokodil, Truckfighters

Truckfighters (7) pull an impressive crowd to the Bohemia tent at one in the afternoon, especially when one considers some of the brain-scrambling post-Maiden hangovers that must be floating around today.

The Swedish trio are all about riffs, riffs, riffs, coming on like a chirpier, less bonged-up Fu Manchu, with better health care. Bare chested and in shorts, guitarist Dango leaps and stomps around like a hairier mid ‘70s Angus Young, and there’s enough charisma coming off the stage to ensure the Swedes exit having made a whole bunch of new friends. They’ll be back for Alt–Fest next month and Hard Rock Hell in November: go see ‘em if you get the opportunity.

With members of Gallows, Cry For Silence and Sikth in their ranks, not to mention Radio 1 Rock Show presenter Dan P. Carter as one of their three gloriously bearded guitarists, Krokodil (8) have undeniable pedigree. They also have some gloriously oppressive tunes. What they don’t have yet - unsurprisingly for a band who’ve only released one limited edition single and played a handful of gigs - is an audience to call their own. This will change. With Mastodon guitarist Brent Hinds watching on paternally from behind the back line (in support of guitarist V-Man, who doubles up as his guitar tech) the Hertfordshire sextet bring a crushing intensity to the Jagermeister stage. The triple guitar attack of V-Man, Carter and Gallows man Laurent ‘Lags’ Barnard will almost certainly see the band dubbed the Lynyrd Skynyrd of Hertfordshire sludge-metal, but there’s nothing comical about their roaring, pitch-black noise which nods towards the like of Baroness, Converge and Mastodon at their most anti-social. Hopefully when their album emerges later in the year day jobs can be temporarily parked to allow this lot a proper shot.

We’re forced to exit bail out two minutes before the end of Krokodil in order to make it across the site to see Gallows (8) on the Bohemia stage. Impressively, guitarist Lags is here before us, having been ferried between stages on a buggy. Rock stars, eh? The Hertfordshire punks are dogged by an appalling sound at first - vocalist Wade MacNeil sounding like he’s singing from a separate postcode entirely on opener Last June - but things quickly rectify themselves, and Outsider Art and Misery are utterly ferocious. Gallows may have sacrificed some of the unpredictable chaos of their earliest shows, but in 2014 they’re as tight as a clenched fist and just as impactful. Dios Mio vocalist Helena provides a sweet counter-point to MacNeil’s gruff vocals on new single Chains and Belly Of A Shark is accompanied by the biggest pit and loudest clap along of the set. MacNeil gives a shout to Mastodon, The Bronx, Dropkick Murphys, etc,. before set closer Orchestra Of Wolves which culminates, as per tradition, with a massed singalong and a guitar-less Lags surfing out into the crowd. Lovely.

Paul Brannigan
Contributing Editor, Louder

A music writer since 1993, formerly Editor of Kerrang! and Planet Rock magazine (RIP), Paul Brannigan is a Contributing Editor to Louder. Having previously written books on Lemmy, Dave Grohl (the Sunday Times best-seller This Is A Call) and Metallica (Birth School Metallica Death, co-authored with Ian Winwood), his Eddie Van Halen biography (Eruption in the UK, Unchained in the US) emerged in 2021. He has written for Rolling Stone, Mojo and Q, hung out with Fugazi at Dischord House, flown on Ozzy Osbourne's private jet, played Angus Young's Gibson SG, and interviewed everyone from Aerosmith and Beastie Boys to Young Gods and ZZ Top. Brannigan lives in North London and supports The Arsenal.