The book was a sign. On the curiously empty Tube carriage a girl next to me is reading The Exorcist. Does she realise what dark magic she is toying with? I face front, waiting for the tourist sat opposite to transform into a hideously twisted succubus. His impassive face stays as is. Safe, then. For the moment...
What do you do with your World Cup buzz when England has been knocked out? You take it to Hyde Park to watch the royal oaks sway and Park Lane's billionaire windows get battered by downtuned guitars and drum fills exploding like a 21-gun salute. It's British Summer Time. Scratch that. It's Sabbath Day. And Ozzy's celebrating his wedding anniversary. Hell is around Hyde Park Corner.
Leafy avenues outside are packed with metallers of all stripes displaying their band affiliations. Any colour you like, as long as it's black. The baking hot July day means strictly shorts and T-shirts order. Aye, there'll be plenty of angry-red necks come the morning. Posh Knightsbridge ladies manoeuvre diddy dogs around these cheery processions as crowds stream through the gates to meet an ocean of humanity within.
The last time I was here was for Hard Rock Calling two years ago. The site had been wrecked by rain, mud and Red Bull ravers stomping their feet to Rihanna and Jessie J. Wood chips were showered everywhere to prevent it descending into a Glastonbury quagmire. Effective, but hard to forget the all-day hum of horse poo.
No danger of that today. The sun is beating down and Soulfly are kicking proceedings off with their dirty tribal grooves. Singer Max Cavalera stands behind a mike decked with bandolier of live shells. His waist-length dreadlocks bang angrily around while he incites the early-comers into action. A circle pit at 3pm? Now you're talking.
It's a family affair as Max's 21-year old son Zyon plays drums for the band. Slight of body, but ferociously dexterous with hands and feet. Then cheers go up as brother Igor jumps on his nephew's kit to anchor classic Sepultura track 'Roots Bloody Roots'. The brothers have their Cavalera Conspiracy side project going strong and next year sees new album Pandemonium.
"We are Motorhead. And we play rock and f*cking roll." Lemmy's alive, well and once again producing sounds from his bass guitar that resemble a Harley-Davidson monstering through the gears. He looks a little frail post-illness and hands over to "my colleague" guitarist Phil Campbell to "speak to you with a human voice". Naturally, 'Spades' is in there and 'Overkill' ices the cake, but they have such a huge canon of amphetamine-punk and supercharged blues that it's never just about their signature tracks.
After Motorhead come off, I pull up a deckchair for a chat with Max Cavalera. He beams happily as he considers today's line-up and says how great it is having his son with him on tour. But the caring Dad doesn't want Zyon to lose focus on his own hardcore outfit Lody Kong. We talk World Cup and Max worries about his team Brazil's chances against Colombia. "They look nervous." And what does he think about hapless porno-moustached striker Fred? The dreadlocks shake disapprovingly.
William Peter Blatty's novel comes back to haunt me again as The Exorcist theme chimes eerily out of the speakers. The backdrop is left blank and funereal garlands line the front of stage. Cometh the hour of Faith No More.
Dressed in priestly all-black with dog collars, the gonzo funk-metallers - as 90's as a coffee at Central Perk - sure can play. Their combination of furious riffs, brain-needling electronica and keen ear for catchy hooks add up to a compelling Panzer-attack. And Mike Patton may be the frontman with today's shortest 'do', but he's also the one most likely to summon Beelzebub from below.
"The power of Christ compels you!" he yells, flicking 'holy' water at the front rows and showcasing his unique baritone that allows him to go from Johnny Rotten punk-opera to the lounge-lizard crooning of The Commodores. "It's alright metalheads. You can sing along to this." And thousands of us wave arms daftly above our heads along to the wuk-wuk guitar solo of 'Easy'. It's a total blast and my day's absolute highlight. Faith No More sound like they never went away. Fresh as a Sunday mor-ahor-orning.
The West Coast Peter Pan, Chris Cornell of Soundgarden, is simply too cool. Skinny, infuriatingly handsome, T-shirt hanging off him perfectly. Jesus Christ Pose? Jesus Christ frickin everything. "This is the third and probably last time we'll be playing Superunknown in its entirety. It'll take about 75 minutes" he says. And the band tears into their classic 1994 album with heartfelt intensity. But it never quite catches fire for me. Their low-slung grooves get your hips going, yet everything seems to stay on the same level. Even 'Black Hole Sun' doesn't tear a gigantic rip in the ether as it should. I'd rather be watching Chris with Audioslave. And it's not often you hear that.
But this is Ozzy's party. And it's time to light the candles. Sirens wail, apocalyptic images of war and misery fill the screens; out come Black Sabbath's merry pranksters. Led by Ozzy, who scampers around the stage like a school kid who's been bust out of detention. He capers, he grins, he goes "Cuckoo!" into his microphone. It's an exhilirating spectacle as Tony Iommi and Geezer Butler flick feverish fingers across their strings and bring us the all-hope-is-gone doom of 'War Pigs', 'Snowblind' and 'Into the void'.
Between songs Kelly Osbourne's bright-purple mohican bobs past in front of the pit followed by equally-hip retinue. White lasers criss-cross the stage for the opening of 'Black Sabbath' before fiery orange flames lick menacingly up the backdrop. Ozzy is in his element; gurning and grabbing his balls at Tony until Rock's Most Distinguished Guitarist cracks up laughing. A celebratory 'Paranoid' rounds off their demon-baiting set before fireworks fly high into the London night. Someone tweets that they can hear Black Sabbath in Chalk Farm. Job done, Ozzy.
Losing my friend in the melee, I wait beside a seething mass of hammered people flooding out of the exit. A large bull-necked Scotsman asks me, "Are you wired, mate?" I tell him no but he looms in with eyes wide. "I understand. I am TOTALLY wired."
(All photos by Jerome Burnet)