Ozzfest 2005

Spread the metal:

Amazingly, this was only my second time seeing Soilwork and with new album STABBING THE DRAMA leaving a much better taste in my mouth than the rushed FIGURE NUMBER FIVE, I was hyped to see some of the new material played live.  Not surprisingly, the band didn’t play any material from their first two albums, STEELBATH SUICIDE and CHAINHEART MACHINE, and instead focused on the more accessible stuff from the last four.  A PREDATOR’S PORTRAIT’s “Bastard Chain” was a definite highlight as well as a blistering version of “As We Speak,” which saw the crowd take part in the chorus.  Bjorn “Speed” Strid has really improved as a vocalist on STABBING THE DRAMA and his range is just as good live, going from a smooth clean vocal on “Nerve” to the ferocious snarls on “Bastard Chain.”  Hopefully, Dirk Verbeuren, on “loan” from the French band, Scarve, and whose presence on STABBING THE DRAMA was instantly felt, will join Soilwork full-time because he seems to fit and the band definitely gelled.  Can’t wait to see them again on the Fear Factory/Strapping Young Lad tour!!      

Stabbing The Drama
Figure Number Five
Bastard Chain
One With The Flies
As We Speak

Pandering to the MTV crowd, It Dies Today’s phoney image and hackneyed emo-core songs are about as natural as Pamela Anderson’s boobs.  Honestly, it could not be any more obvious that this band was dreamed up by a label marketing team.  Sporting more eyeliner than Tammy Faye Bakker and those purposely messed-up, jet black shag haircuts that make 12-year olds think they are “metal,” It Dies Today is the epitome of what is wrong with music today.  Bad songs, a concocted image and a lifespan shorter than a mosquito (and just as annoying), expect It Dies Today to disappear soon along with bands like Bleeding Through, Atreyu and The Agony Scene.  Terrible, terrible, terrible….  

And the winner is….A DOZEN FURIES!!!!  This band won MTV’s “Battle For Ozzfest” TV show and got the chance to play this year’s Ozzfest.  With nothing more to offer than being yet another in the seemingly endless spawn of metalcore bands, I have to wonder what the other bands on the show were like?!  Good energy and the kids seemed to dig them but A Dozen Furies are totally unoriginal and forgettable.

It took almost four hours but the main band I had wanted to see on Ozzfest was finally taking the stage: Mastodon.  Their brilliant new CD, LEVIATHAN, is one of the most crushing, heavy and well-played albums in recent years and I could only hope that Mastodon was even half that good live.  Upon seeing Brann Dailor settle in behind his Randy Rhodes black-and-white-polka-dot inspired drum kit, I actually began to get a bit shaky!  Troy Sanders’ scraggly hair and patchy beard give him the appearance of a homeless person but, man, can he crack some thunder on bass!  My pant legs actually vibrated from the low frequency!  Sanders’ vocals are gruff and bizarre but when looking at the MOBY DICK-inspired lyrics of LEVIATHAN, this is not your typical metal band.  Brent Hinds had a cast on his foot but still unleashed some furious riffs and solos, while squeezing in some background vocals.  “Iron Tusk” and “March of The Fire Ants” got the best response from the hungry crowd, while set closer “Blood and Thunder” really showcased Dailor’s skills.  Soon after this Ozzfest date, Mastodon announced they were leaving Relapse Records and had signed with a major label, Warner Records.  Hopefully the band will continue their punishing intensity and not soften under the guise of the big dollars.  If their Ozzfest performance is any indication, Mastodon is just getting warmed up.

Iron Tusk
March of The Fire Ants
Where Strides The Behemoth
Mother Puncher
Aqua Dementia
Blood and Thunder

SHADOWS ARE SECURITY showed that San Diego’s As I Lay Dying are more than a one-trick metalcore pony and as one of the big “breakout” bands of 2005, their stock will only go up.  Having seen the band twice before (read reviews here and here), I already knew that As I Lay Dying killed live but they were really on here.  With an eight-song, 40-minute set split evenly between the new CD and FRAIL WORDS COLLAPSE, this could best be described as a “best of” As I Lay Dying performance.  Jordan Mancino’s impeccable drumming set the pace for the metalcore assault and Tim Lambesis’ boundless energy is almost tiring to watch.  Lambesis’ growled vocals, combined with some great clean vocals from bassist Clint Norris, make tracks like “Empty Hearts” come alive.  As an added surprise, vocalist John Pettibone from the Seattle-based metalcore band, Himsa, appeared for a few bars of “Forever,” but was gone before anyone really noticed he was there.  The six-string tandem of Nick Hipa and Phil Sgrosso perfectly synched with each other on “94 Hours” and “Meaning In Tragedy” delivering a brick wall of guitars.  I was a bit surprised the band didn’t play “Losing Sight” or “The Darkest Nights,” two of the best tracks from SHADOWS ARE SECURITY, but their set certainly left an indelible mark on the crowd.      

Meaning In Tragedy
94 Hours
Falling Upon Deaf Ears
Empty Hearts
Through Struggle
Control Is Dead

It’s no secret that Killswitch Engage has become one of my favourite bands over the past few years.  I have seen them five times since 2003 and, while they have their share of detractors, the band has annihilated the crowd every single time.  Guitarist Adam Dutkiewicz continues to outdo himself with bizarre behaviour on stage, this time sporting a moose head, cape and boxer shorts that hung out of the legs of his too-tight denim cut-offs.  Vocalist Howard Jones spent a good deal of the band’s set shaking his head in disbelief at Dutkiewicz but the guitarist’s best line of the day had to be “You’re ugly and your Dad should have pulled out!”  Goofy get-ups aside, Killswitch…well, they killed!  Endless touring in support of THE END OF HEARTACHE has landed them on so many tours with so many different bands that they have been exposed to a huge array of fans.  The result of such a ubiquitous presence saw the bulk of the Ozzfest crowd singing along to the band’s infectious choruses on “Life To Lifeless,” “My Last Serenade” and “Rose of Sharyn.”  Lead guitarist Joel Stroetzel (whose hair is becoming out of control) laid down some stinging solos and the pinch harmonics were everywhere.  Jones’ vocal range is most impressive, alternating between a harsh roar to an emo-like croon on “A Bid Farewell” and “Rose of Sharyn” with seemingly little effort.  Drummer Justin Foley seems to have found his place behind the kit and along with bassist Mike D’Antonio form a solid rhythm section that is just as tight live as it is in the studio.  Yet another stellar set from Killswitch Engage…not that I’m surprised, by this point!  

A Bid Farewell
Breathe Life
Fixation On The Darkness
The End of Heartache
Take This Oath
Numbered Days
Life To Lifeless
My Last Serenade
Rose of Sharyn

Rob Zombie’s addition the Ozzfest lineup really had me scratching my head. Zombie has not released an album of new material since THE SINISTER URGE in 2001 and just days prior to the Ozzfest stop, he announced that he would not be recording music again in order to focus on his film career.  With THE DEVIL’S REJECTS hitting theatres that week, was he on the tour to promote the movie or to delight fans with a coda of his career as a solo artist and as frontman for White Zombie?  When Zombie took the stage, he was almost unrecognizable.  Gone were the waist-length black dreadlocks, kooky outfits and zombie facial prosthetics and in their place was blond-highlighted hair under a cowboy hat, a skeleton mask, Sturgis wife beater and rhinestone-covered jeans.  Zombie looked like a cross between an outlaw biker and a surfer dude!  Backing Zombie was long-time bassist “Blasko,” guitarist John 5 (Marilyn Manson, David Lee Roth, Two) and Alice Cooper’s drummer, Tommy Clufetos and the band was definitely on fire.  Zombie’s choice of the jaw-dropping backdrop of 60’s nude pinups made it difficult to focus on the music but the band delivered a hit-filled 45-minute set that spanned Zombie’s entire career.  John 5 is one of metal’s most underrated guitarists and he handled the fretwork on “Superbeast” without blinking a heavily-mascaraed eye.  He’s definitely an odd character but, man, can the guy drop the hammer when he needs to.  

Supercharger Heaven
Living Dead Girl
Demonoid Phenomenon
More Human Than Human
Demon Speeding
Dead Girl Superstar
Thunderkiss ‘65