Ozzfest 2005

Spread the metal:

Thursday, August 11, 2005
White River Amphitheatre
Auburn, Washington  USA


**Live Review & All Photos By Lord of The Wasteland (NOTE: Photo approval was not granted for Iron Maiden or Black Sabbath)

So here we are again…it’s summertime!  The sun is out, the days get longer and the skirts get shorter.  Along with the usual perks of summer comes the influx of tours and like Noxzema, iced tea and air conditioning, another staple of summer is the travelling circus of called Ozzfest.  This being the 10th anniversary of North America’s premier metal fest, the line-up actually trumped last year’s roster (read review here) on both the Second and Main Stages.  Mother Nature was merciful to the 17,000 fans in attendance as well with the day remaining mostly overcast, compared to last year’s scorching heat.  One other thing I learned from last year’s experience (besides wearing a hat and PLENTY of sunscreen) is not to drive to the venue but to take advantage of the courtesy buses.  I spent the better part of one hour just trying to get out of the ONE exit and then another 45 minutes sitting in bumper-to-bumper traffic all the way back to the hotel.  After being on one’s feet for 14 hours straight in the blistering sun, those two hours felt like an eternity, so it was the “loser cruiser” for me this year.  Being the organized person I am, I called the Auburn Supermall a week ahead to find out any details or tips they could give, such as the best time to arrive there so I wouldn’t miss any of the bands.  The oh-so-friendly customer service person on the other end of the phone assured me that if I was at the Supermall by 8:00AM, I would have no problem being at the venue for the 9:00AM start time of Arch Enemy.  Taking another piece of experience last year, I drove from Vancouver to Seattle the night before and spent the night in a Motel 6 so I wouldn’t hit morning gridlock and have to break 27 laws to try—and fail—to get to the venue on time.  With my hotel booked, travel plans confirmed and what I thought to be a foolproof plan to get in and out of the White River Amphitheatre in a jiffy, I was on my way.

Unfortunately, about 400 other people must have received the same advice and as I rolled into the Supermall parking lot at 8:01AM, I saw the line-up of people waiting for buses circle around the black-top.  I knew then that I would be late and sure enough, despite having a whopping 43 buses on hand, I was unable to even board one until 9:00 and with a 25-minute drive ahead, will call and finding the media wrangler, I would be lucky to even make Trivium’s set, let alone Arch Enemy’s.  As predicted, just as I stepped off the bus, Arch Enemy’s final song—“We Will Rise’’—was echoing through the parking lot and my chance to see Gus G. (Dream Evil, Firewind, Mystic Prophecy) slinging the axe for them was gone.  After being instructed that will call is at the opposite end of the drop-off point of the bus, I began my hike around the gargantuan stadium as Trivium took the stage.  By the time all the formalities were out of the way and I was walking towards the second stage, Trivium was nearly finished their set, as well, so…sorry, but there is no report or photos of either Arch Enemy or Trivium. 


The Black Dahlia Murder’s frenzied live set sparked my interest when they opened for Cannibal Corpse last summer (read review here) and their new CD, MIASMA, builds upon the street smarts they have learned from the relentless touring for 2003’s UNHALLOWED.  Frontman Trevor Strnad is a spastic ball of caffeinated energy and his non-stop stalking of the crowd was tiring to witness at such an early hour.  Guitarists Brian Eschbach and John Kempainen sliced through “Contagion” and “A Vulgar Picture” with precise riffing and sweet soloing but their thrashing twist on death metal seemed to be exactly what the audience needed to kick start their day.  Sadly, bassist Dave Lock and drummer Zach Gibson were recently fired (or quit depending on who you ask), so the next time TBDM hits town, it will be with a new line-up but since MIASMA is still picking up steam, I’m sure they will bounce back without missing a beat.   

Built For Sin
I’m Charming
A Vulgar Picture
Funeral Thirst

Peter Dolving, one of the better frontmen I have seen recently, looked pretty darn happy to be back on stage with The Haunted after a 5 ½ year break and with rEVOLVEr finally putting a dent in the psyche of metalheads on this side of the Atlantic, he has every reason to be.  A Mohawk-ed Dolving handed out high-fives to the first few rows in front and his nifty little “happy dance” during “99” showed that he was pumped for a good show.  Like last year, fans in wheelchairs decided that crowd-surfing would be a good idea and not one, but two, headbanging metalheads were passed overhead during “All Against All.”  Besides Dolving, The Haunted is probably best-known for the incredible melodic dual guitar work of Anders Bjorler and Patrick Jensen.  Bjorler perfectly nailed the solo on “99” and Jensen’s tight riffs on “All Against All” and “Hate Song” (dedicated to “all the bands who fucked us over” by Dolving) personified The Haunted’s brand of neo-thrash.  The only thing that could have been better with The Haunted’s set is that it could have been longer but as part of the second stage’s rotating lineup, they were only allotted 20 minutes.

Dark Intentions
Bury Your Dead
All Against All
No Compromise
Hate Song

Going from The Haunted to Bury Your Dead was like downshifting into second gear while driving 60 miles down the highway—painful to the ears, hard to watch and potentially damaging to your guts.  For whatever reason, every song on their latest CD, COVER YOUR TRACKS, is named after a Tom Cruise movie despite having no lyrical reference to any of them.  If that isn’t ridiculous enough, vocalist Mat Bruso tried to lead the crowd in a chant of “BURY YOUR DEAD! BURY YOUR DEAD!” that seemed like it would never end.  Certainly more –core than metal-, Bury Your Dead takes metalcore to a new low and the fact that they played AFTER Arch Enemy and The Haunted is ludicrous.  “Vanilla Sky” and “The Outsiders” were the only two songtitles that I managed to catch, but I’m guessing no one has made it this far to read about Bury Your Dead’s setlist anyway…

I was quite disappointed to find out that actress Jada Pinkett Smith’s band, Wicked Wisdom, would not be playing this date.  For reasons unknown to the staff, the band was not there, despite being on the itinerary to play from 11:25-11:45.  I will admit, my own curiosity stemmed more from the unkind reaction that Wicked Wisdom faced on the previous dates than for their music, but still, a bit of a letdown.

One band who I had heard absolutely nothing good about was Gizmachi.  Maybe that caused my lowered expectations to be easily influenced but they sounded a lot like Machine Head or Chimaira.  Not entirely original, by any means, but they weren’t too bad, either.  Frontman Sean Kane is a big boy who roars and barks his vocals out like a junkyard dog.  Bassist Kris Gilmore sports a spiral buzzcut like Flea from Red Hot Chili Peppers in the video for “Give It Away” and his bobbing stage presence reminded me a lot of Mike Dean from Corrosion of Conformity.  The moshpit went absolutely berserk for Gizmachi and “Wandering Eyes” and “Voice of Sanity” definitely had some hook to them.  I wouldn’t make a special trip out to see these guys play again however I would make a point to show up early if they were opening a show.  The first surprise of the day.

Wandering Eyes
Romantic Devastation
Wearing Skin
Voice of Sanity