As far as concerts go, it would seem that if you were a heavy metal music fan and chose to miss these years Ozzfest for any reason that you were doing yourself a great injustice. This years Ozzfest would prove to be the one with perhaps the best lineup of all time for when it was at the planning stages it seemed as though each act was getting better and better upon the announcement. The Main Stage bands listed were Black Label Society, Superjoint Ritual, Dimmu Borgir, Slayer, Judas Priest and Black Sabbath. The second stage bands were also very good this time around, mixing some new and some staple acts. Among this list were Slipknot, Hatebreed, Lamb of God and Lacuna Coil and Otep.
My goal that day was to arrive at least by lunch time, but sadly a very late start in my day and bumper to bumper traffic out to the Arena caused me to miss all of the second stage bands and Black Label Society. This sucked but there was no way around it. I had really wanted to see Zak Wylde play as he is clearly one of the best guitar players in metal music today. I did walk in on Superjoint Ritual and for whatever reason they just did not do it for me. The sound was terrible and very muddy. Phil Anselmo seemed to simply be yelling the whole set and was difficult to discern from anything he was saying. Perhaps it was an off day, but I think I prefer him in Pantera as his best work has been done in this band.
I was happy to be able to see the full set for Norway’s Dark Gods Dimmu Borgir. As the speakers blasted the intro music for their arrival Shagrath and his band mates (Silenoz, Mustis, Galder, Vortex and the new drummer who’s name I did not get) walked out announcing that they are “Spellbound by the Devil”. From there the set kicked off for 30 minutes of brutality as only Dimmu Borgir could deliver. On finishing the opening tune Shagrath announced that they indeed only had 30 minutes so they would let the music do the talking. He then asked the masses if they were ready to experience some Norwegian Black Metal. The remainder of their set was “Progenies of the Grand Apocalypse”, “King’s Of the Carnival Creation”, (which are my favorites). “Vreksbyrd” and “Mourning Palace”. This was too short a set for a band doing the fourth spot on the bill if you asked me. While I would have liked to see a few more numbers, this was not to be the case. Still, it was worth it and did Dimmu Borgir an amount of justice by them getting to play their music for an audience as large as the Ozzfest crowd in the USA. A big achievement for this ever rising star in the Black Metal genre.
Slayer was the next group up, and delivered their brand of mayhem in the usual fashion. Beginning what seemed to be an hour long set with “God Hates Us All”; Slayer also kept the audience banter to a minimum and instead pounded everyone’s ears with their set. It went down like this after the opener “War Ensemble”, “Show No Mercy”, “Paybacks A Bitch”, “Mandatory Suicide”, “Jesus Saves”, “Dead Skin Mask”, “Hell Awaits”, South Of Heaven”, Reign In Blood”. Oddly enough they did not play the one tune I had though was never left off the Slayer set, and that is “Angel of Death”. Given the fact that there were chairs in the arena, it gave the odd site to see a Slayer performance with no mosh pit. This was a first for me as there is generally frenzy in front of them. Like feeding sharks. Once Slayer was done, the anticipation level was at its highest for me, for this was the main reason I was in attendance. It was now time for Judas Priest, who had reunited with singer Rob Halford after several years of his solo projects.
To add to the mood of the show, the skies that had held back a brewing rainstorm finally opened up. The rain was not as torrential at all times but the lightning was in full force. You saw it frequently over the stage and on the sides over the water that surrounded the venue stage. It certainly added a level of power and intensity. The set for Priest tonight would be an incredible one and while full of the expected songs they held such a higher importance given this was an appearance with the mighty Rob Halford at the helm once again. Rob was in excellent form as his voice is still quite powerful and in the key that we all love about him. However, his stage rap needs a little to be desired. Especially when he does his “this next song involves the word LAW in its title, and he asks the audience far too many times “breaking the what?”. He also wasted time with his audience participation chant of “oh yeah”. It seems that this time could have been better served by adding an extra tune instead of doing that. Rob announced that the band was celebrating 30 years of being a band and that we could count on a new album and world tour in the immediate future. Fans should check the Judas Priest site because the band has been doing an off Ozzfest date here and there. He also spoke of the “Metalogy” boxed set that had hit the shelves. It is a nice piece and has a little of everything for the diehard Priest fan.
Last up was the Prince Of Darkness himself, Mister Ozzy Osbourne who had decided several months ago to make the final slot the place for a full Black Sabbath reunion. The original members would be performing a set of their classics instead of his solo material. Originally, I was a bit annoyed as I love Ozzy’s solo music, but the chance to see Black Sabbath perform again is on the historic side. Tony Iommi is pretty much the founder of the heavy metal guitar sound and Geezer Butler is an amazing bassist. It was also good to see Bill Ward on the drums for the original reports going around were that he was not asked. He can still hold his own which is impressive after suffering a heart attack. The most interesting part was seeing Ozzy run about like he was electrified. One would not expect this from seeing him on the “Osbournes” TV Show, as he mutters to himself and wanders aimlessly about the house. This was a man on fire and excited all the more as he made the crowd insane. The set did seem a bit short however and mainly included the expected standards. I would have liked to see a number or two more. We've provided the set list for you for reference. It seems that every time there is a Sabbath appearance that the song selection remains rather drab. I mean, we all love Paranoid and War Pigs but they should expand on this a little more. The Founding Fathers could afford to do it for their followers after all these years.
Given the fact that there were so many highpoints to this year’s Festival, I must say once again that if you are a metal fan, I hope you put aside the cash and tried to attend this event. You will not regret the decision for it was packed with tunes that made even seeing just the Final Four an experience to be remembered. More information and news on the shows can be seen on the Ozzfest link provided below. I am outta here until the next time.
Official Web Site: www.ozzfest.com
Official Web Site: www.judaspriest.com
Official Web Site: www.slayer.net
Official Web Site: www.dimmu-borgir.com
Official Web Site: www.blacklabelsociety.com
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