Next out of the gate was Norwegian black metal gods, Dimmu Borgir. I have the band twice before this and both times were in darkened clubs. The corpse paint, outfits and creepy lighting are all an important part of the Dimmu Borgir spectacle but their 6:00 PM stage time saw the setting sun crest over the top of the venue and it really did take away from whole ambience of their shtick. I half expected the band to crumble to dust as the sun?s rays hit them! The crowd seemed almost baffled as to why these six men looked the way they did and the response was tepid at best. . The band definitely stuck out like a sore thumb among the rest of the bands, but they did the best they could and played with everything they had to win a few new fans along the way. Nile drummer, Tony Laureano, filled in for Reno Killerich on the Ozzfest dates as he failed to get his visa in order. The expansive stage left plenty of room for guitarists Galder and Silenoz and bassist ICS Vortex to move around. They even did some synchronized guitar moves and headbanging while leaving vocalist Shagrath and ultra-creepy keyboardist, Mustis, way across the stage. Given the fact that Dimmu Borgir?s songs are fairly lengthy, the 30-minute set didn?t allow for a lot but they still soldiered through their best-known tracks and did a bang-up job at it.
DIMMU BORGIR SETLIST
Spellbound (By The Devil)
In Death?s Embrace
Kings of The Carnival Creation
Progenies of The Great Apocalypse
With their Ozzfest performance, Slayer has now become the band that I have seen live the most at a whopping six times?and every show has been since 1999! I will never deny Slayer any credit for they are truly among the greatest live acts ever. Their shows are pure chaos and aggression and the band is revered by everyone in attendance. However their current live set is becoming quite boring given that they have been playing basically the same tracks in almost the same order for going on three years now. Thankfully a new album is due for release in 2005, but the band flirted with different tracks during their tour with Damageplan and even on some of the Ozzfest dates. Just weeks earlier, they played the entire REIGN IN BLOOD album. On various stops, they brought out tracks like ?Hallowed Point,? ?Necrophiliac? and ?Hell Awaits.? Why did they revert back to playing GOD HATES US HALL favorite, ?Payback?? And where was ?Angel of Death?? This was a solid set?just getting a little predictable. Given their 50 minutes, they didn?t waste a second of stage time as Tom Araya was a thrashing mass of black hair, while guitarists Jeff Hanneman and Kerry King exploded with whammy bar diving solos and headbanging fury. Slayer has been doing this for over twenty years now and they show no sign whatsoever of slowing down.
Stain of Mind
Seasons In The Abyss
Dead Skin Mask
South of Heaven
The second to last band was the one that many of the people in the crowd came to see: Judas Priest. Unless you?ve been living under a rock for the last year, the Metal God himself, Rob Halford, has rejoined the band and for the first time since 1991, the classic Judas Priest lineup is back together and on the road. I saw Judas Priest on the PAINKILLER tour (with Megadeth and Testament opening?ticket price?$20!) and they absolutely slayed. I hold that album in the highest regard and I believe it is the band?s finest moment even fourteen years later. To top it will be next to impossible, though on December 28th, the band will try as their new CD drops. Given all that has happened since PAINKILLER?the Ripper Owens albums, Two, Fight and Halford?I was curious how exactly the band would sound and look all these years later. Any doubts were quickly dispelled as the familiar opening of ?The Hellion? began. The large backdrop (also the cover of the Judas Priest DVD, ELECTRIC EYE) was a big eye and as ?Electric Eye? kicked in, there was Halford?right in the pupil! The crowd was going absolutely insane and I could not believe the reception the band was getting. They seemed to lap it up, too, as Halford strutted around the stage and guitarists K.K. Downing and Glenn Tipton ran back and forth, up and down throughout the entire 75-minute set. Given the age of these guys, they still moved and played like men half their age. Halford did a hilarious ?robot? throughout ?Metal Gods? and owned the stage. He changed black leather jackets several times throughout the set and played to the crowd from start to finish. Halford?s voice is as amazing as ever hitting the screams in ?The Sentinel,? ?Victim of Changes? and ?A Touch of Evil.? The only problem he seemed to have was some of the higher range in ?Painkiller,? but 99.9% of us couldn?t do it, either. For the encore, ?Hell Bent For Leather? started and soon the rumbling began?the Harley was back! When I first saw Halford roll out from under the stage on the back of a Harley Davidson motorcycle, I was blown away. Remember this was 1990, long before the internet and I had no idea this was a staple of the band?s live show. So here it was 14 years later and I wondered if they would still bring out the bike and sure enough, out roared Halford, complete with leather hat and long leather jacket! Once again, the people in the crowd were beside themselves and continue singing along with nearly every word. The band?s set was heavy with the hits as expected but they also pulled out some dusty gems like ?Victim of Changes,? ?Beyond The Realms of Death? and ?The Green Manalishi (With The Two-Pronged Crown)? that only the true Priest fans would know and appreciate.
It really was like I was transported back in time to that 18-year old kid wearing his PAINKILLER tour shirt because the years have not affected this band at all. Maybe it was the excitement of seeing one of my favorite bands playing together again or the excitement of the crowd, but this was truly one of the best sets I have ever seen from any band. Their new CD is scheduled for release on December 28th and expectations could not be any higher. A full U.S. tour should follow next year and the rest of the world not lucky enough to see Judas Priest on Ozzfest will see what REAL metal is all about.
JUDAS PRIEST SETLIST
Heading Out To The Highway
A Touch of Evil
Victim of Changes
(Glenn Tipton solo)
Breaking The Law
Beyond The Realms of Death
The Green Manalishi (With The Two-Pronged Crown)
Hell Bent For Leather
Living After Midinght
You?ve Got Another Thing Comin?
After witnessing twenty other bands and charbroiling myself under the unforgiving sun for nearly twelve hours, the moon was overhead and everything was in place for the headliners, Black Sabbath. Playing live together for the first time since 2001, the band delivered an excellent, albeit predictable, live set. Ozzy Osbourne?s presence on the tour this year was up in the air due to his ATV accident last fall, but despite a very slight limp, Ozzy was the madman everyone knows and loves. His mysterious ability to become both agile and coherent on stage aside, he shuffled from one side of the stage to the other dousing himself and the crowd with buckets of water. Before the band hit the stage, a medley of Ozzy?s solo songs were played and he could be heard laughing and saying, ?I?m BAAAAAAAAAAAACK!? The video screen behind the band showed close-ups of all of them performing which was nice, especially for those people that were about 5 miles back from the stage on the lawn. Close-ups of Tony Iommi?s masterful fingers during ?Into The Void? and Geezer Butler frantically tugging away at his bass strings were a real treat but no one needed to see a shirtless Bill Ward. Ward almost missed the tour altogether but thankfully the original lineup was able to perform and during the band introductions, Ozzy gave an especially long tribute to Ward. Ozzy?s voice sounded better than the other three times I have seen him live and he seemed to be giving his throat a constant dousing of spray and tea to keep it in shape. ?Black Sabbath? had an especially strong hold on the crowd as the sun had set and the doom-laden riffs of Iommi and Ozzy?s crackling voice were downright creepy. For the encore, what other song could be played except ?Paranoid?? There was suddenly a total whiteout due to the endless confetti that was showered down on the crowd and for a moment, I thought I was at a KISS concert! The controversial video footage comparing George W. Bush to Adolf Hitler during ?War Pigs? had already been removed by this stop on the tour, but other atrocities were still flashed and were a suitable wrap-up to what was a surprisingly politically-charged day.
BLACK SABBATH SETLIST
Fairies Wear Boots
Into The Void
Children of The Grave
Well, there you have it. Fourteen hours?twenty bands?and a nasty sunburn?all in the name of metal! This was an exceptional day and while a few of the newer bands were pleasant surprises (Unearth), most of the old dogs showed they are still relying on old tricks (Black Sabbath). The highlight of the day was Judas Priest, but it was also great to see Ozzy Osbourne out performing after his accident. A true metal warrior. The majority of the second stage bands were totally interchangeable and without a backdrop with their respective name on it, I doubt few in the crowd would even be able to tell who was who. Despite all the trails and tribulations that plagued my Ozzfest 2004 trip, it was all worth it in the end. A clean bed at Motel 6 was waiting for me and all I could think about was a pillow and getting off my feet. Let?s hope next year?s lineup is just as good as this one?or even better??
One thing I absolutely MUST mention is the parking lot of the White River Amphitheatre. There were easily 20,000 people at Ozzfest and the gigantic parking lot had plenty of room to fit everyone?s car. The problem: one entrance and one exit. That?s right?twenty thousand all leaving at the same time through a one-way, single lane road. What in the hell were these people thinking when they built this place?!?!?
Thanks to Hannah at Nuclear Blast, George at Century Media and Juliana at Bridenthal & Associates for the ticket and photo passes.
Thanks to Ginger and the rest of the White River Amphitheatre staff for all their help and accommodation at the show.