Some of these choices will be obvious, some slightly less so (to some people anyway), but we here at Scribes Of Metal have picked out a dozen of the finest bands big and small, homegrown and from abroad that we think you, the paying Sonisphere public, should be doing your damnedest to make sure you're in attendance for at this years' Sonisphere Knebworth festivities. Without any further build up, our first pick were performing on a pyramid last weekend....
Riding as high as they ever have after silencing countless doubters with an almost flawless performance headlining the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury last weekend, this weekend sees Metallica return to more familiar territory and a more friendly audience at Knebworth. With their By Request set on offer, it was hoped that Metallica's copious UK fanbase might opt for a rare song or two but it seems it will be a set of old favourites - not that that's a bad thing. At least Knebworth is likely to join Glastonbury in getting a rendition of Whiskey In The Jar - let's just hope Lars can keep up that level of Performance. Metallica will provide the best possible conclusion to Sonisphere Knebworth 2014.
It's the last show of the Maiden England tour which has spanned two years and been seen by hundreds of thousands of people and Iron Maiden return to Knebworth looking to put things right on home turf after a less than stellar showing at Download last year (Spitfire notwithstanding). That's only part of the fun as Maiden frontman Bruce Dickinson will be part of a WWI flying extravaganza re-enactment a few hours before Maiden take to the stage. So long as the sound is good (as it let them down so badly at Donington) it is common knowledge how impressive Iron Maiden usually are, let's hope they blow everyone away at Knebworth this weekend.
With their first UK festival appearance since headlining at High Voltage in 2011, prog metal pioneers Dream Theater will be closing the Saturn Stage at Knebworth for 2014 appearing directly before Metallica on the Sunday. With yet another impressive album under their belts with their self-titled effort of last year and a huge "evening with" tour earlier this year, there's no signs of the Dream Theater juggernaut slowing down anytime soon. Their Knebworth début should be one of the highlights of the festival.
With no new album to promote and appearing directly before Iron Maiden on the Saturday, Slayer's fans can expect an hour of straight up balls to the wall thrash classics from one of the genre's true masters. They might be lacking Jeff Hannemann (RIP) and Dave Lombardo but Gary Holt has filled Hannemann's shoes in the truest spirit possible while Paul Bostaph's newest stint in Slayer seems to be progressing well so they remain no less impressive as a live force. Prepare for extreme headbanging and sing-alongs at breakneck speed.
Arguably one of the metal comebacks of the century, Carcass' profile has never been higher. Fans old and new alike lapped up their 2013 masterpiece Surgical Steel which picked up countless "End of year" award nominations and they blew fans away on Metal Hammer's Defenders Of The Faith IV tour with Amon Amarth. Now Carcass make their Sonisphere UK debut at Knebworth and the likes of Slayer, Deftones and even Iron Maiden will have to be wary, Carcass could put them all to shame if they're not careful. A must see band for Saturday.
Hang The Bastard
The second part of an amazing double header for the sludge laden riff lords of Hang The Bastard, who less than twenty four hours prior to this performance will be strutting their stuff alongside the likes of Black Sabbath and Faith No More in Hyde Park at British Summer Time. Kicking off the Bohemia tent on Saturday morning, songs like Sweet Mother and Interplanetary Portals are more than good enough to get everyone out of bed early even if they've had a heavy Friday night. This may also be a chance to hear some new material from Hang The Bastard's forthcoming album due in the Autumn. One of many British bands flying the flag over the weekend, if you like it heavy and groovy Hang The Bastard are for you.
Another talented homegrown outfit, Malefice come battle hardened with years of experience of gigs and festivals and know exactly how to get a crowd going with their punishing style of metal. Frontman Dale Butler will ring every last drop of energy out of the audience and with their recent "V" mini-album getting some of the best reviews of their career, Malefice are a band who will help smash your heads in yet leave you with a smile on your face at the same time. Don't expect any rest breaks in this one.
France's finest export to the wider world since Thierry Henry have the honour of opening up the main Apollo Stage on Sunday morning. Fortunately they've been granted a decent length set for an opening act (40 minutes) but we could easily watch Gojira for double that. Having barely put a foot wrong in recent years, they now have an exquisite back catalogue of complex, mesmerising metal songs to sonically assault Knebworth with. Whatever they play, it is likely you won't fail to be impressed. If Hang The Bastard are your reason to get up early on Saturday, then Gojira are most certainly why you get up early on Sunday.
The definite wildcard of our ten bands to see at Sonisphere Knebworth 2014, this could be quite the spectacle. It could also be an absolute car-crash, depending on the audience reaction to Japan's latest export who are rapidly gaining popularity in the UK and have been bumped up to the main Apollo stage for their first UK appearance as a result. If Babymetal haven't crossed your radar yet, check out their Megitsune video and you'll soon understand why this could be a must-see part of Sonisphere 2014
Devil You Know
The first performance on British soil from former Killswitch Engage singer Howard Jones' new band, Devil You Know are a band well worth dipping into Bohemia to catch on Friday afternoon. Their debut album The Beauty Of Destruction is well worth a listen (or four) and it will be very interesting to see how the material translates into the live environment. We're sure all the Killswitch fans amongst the Knebworth attendees will check them out, and you should too.
Anthrax (Performing Among The Living)
One of four bands performing albums in their entirety over the weekend, and with all due respect to the other bands, by far the most famous of the four albums, big four thrash favourites Anthrax are going to be ripping through their 1987 classic Among The Living. What makes this even more special is that it's going to take place in the confines of the Bohemia tent, a simple fact that means carnage is guaranteed to ensue. If Anthrax, and Joey Belladonna in particular is on form, this could be one of the best things anyone will see all weekend. A must for thrash fans, we say this to everyone else: miss it at your peril.
The Devin Townsend Project
Metal's mad scientist and one of the most creative minds in all of music, 2014 sees the first appearance of Devin Townsend and The Devin Townsend Project at Sonisphere in the UK. Recently having changed tack somewhat with his Casualties of Cool project, the Knebworth show should see Devin and friends back on more familiar territory. One would not bet against a huge sing-along and danceathon to Lucky Animals being part of the set while the likes of Kingdom are as heavy as anything one is likely to hear all weekend. The man is a genius and must simply not be missed.
In addition to this preview, the latest instalment of the Scribes Of Metal podcast with Greg & Simon offers the boys always entertaining views on Sonisphere as they preview the event as well as discussing Download and various other things. You can listen to the Podcast on this link right now.
Both weekend and day tickets are still available for Sonisphere Knebworth 2014 where the gates open tomorrow with the bands playing Friday - Sunday. The event is of course headlined by The Prodigy, Iron Maiden and Metallica. Tickets can be obtained from www.sonisphere.co.uk as well as any further info you might require. Stay tuned to Scribes for further Sonisphere coverage.