The Swedish Invasion
Nissan Pavilion, Bristow, VA
By JEFF MAKI
ARCH ENEMY, TRIVIUM,
THE BLACK DAHLIA MURDER, THE HAUNTED, BURY YOUR DEAD, WICKED WISDOM, GIZMACHI, SOILWORK, IT DIES TODAY,
A DOZEN FURIES, MASTODON, AS I LAY DYING, KILLSWITCH ENGAGE, ROB ZOMBIE
IN FLAMES, BLACK LABEL SOCIETY, SHADOWS FALL, MUDVAYNE, IRON MAIDEN,
Well, we made it back from yet another Ozzfest. Like every other year, it did not disappoint. This year saw the invasion of the Swedes, led by one of the bands credited for starting the scene, In Flames. Soilwork, Arch Enemy and The Haunted, all hailing from Sweden, demolished the second stage as expected. It was hot, probably about 95 degrees, but that didn't stop this heavy metal Christmas from going down.
We arrived at the Nissan Pavilion on time (about 8:30 a.m.). However, after a slow moving line and security checks, we didn't get in until about 9:25 a.m. This got under my skin somewhat. Arch Enemy was supposed to kick off the second stage at 9:20 am. But they took the stage about 9 a.m., and everyone could only hear but not see the band perform. If they're going to start so early, why not open the gates earlier? We paid good money for Ozzfest and shouldn't have to be forced to miss the first band because the gates aren't open. Does this make any sense? This is my only complaint about the show. What I heard from Arch Enemy sounded brutal.
We did get in just in time for Trivium, who I was psyched to see, as they are without a doubt the future of metal, and their live show proved it. The band has good stage presence, keeping the crowd into it, while ripping through “Rain,” “A Gunshot to the Head of Trepidation” and “Pull Harder On The Strings Of Your Martyr,” among others. Trivium is set to be huge very soon and Ozzfest is letting everyone know why. I absolutely love their album “Ascendancy,” which features a style that is modern and brings to mind classic thrash bands like Megadeth, Testament and the once mighty Metallica.
After Trivium, we decided to skip The Black Dahlia Murder (they seem just a little too chaotic even for me – not bad, just not my style) and check out the sights: The Village of the Damned, numerous vendors, merchandise, dudes in black clothing, some ladies. One of the coolest parts of Ozzfest is the signing booths at the FYE Jagermeister tents. Around this time, we met our first band of the day, Arch Enemy. They were cool, and lead vocalist Angela Glasgow is beautiful in person. I think she rivals a female lead we met last year at Ozzfest, Cristina Scabbia of Lacuna Coil. She was wearing a little sun dress, with bleached blonde hair and sunglasses. I told her she was great and I couldn’t wait for the new album to come out. Damn she was smoking hot.
Next up was The Haunted. I had seen them before so I watched from a distance as they tore it up. Frontman Peter Dolving was a lunatic on stage as the band ripped through five or six songs including standouts “99” and “All Against All.” The Haunted is helping to lead the Swedish takeover of Ozzfest and of the U.S. Awesome thrash metal in the vein of Slayer, with the Swedish melodic sound intertwined.
Bury Your Dead was up next. While they’re not too bad either, it was time to go and check out more shit around the grounds. We got back in time for Jada Pinkett Smith’s band Wicked Wisdom. There had been a lot of negativity toward this band being on Ozzfest, so I figured I’d check them out. Who ever would’ve thought? Will Smith’s wife in a band that sounds kind of like Suicidal Tendencies? And I thought I had seen it all. Anyway, they weren’t terrible, but they don’t belong on this bill either. We skipped Gizmachi and met The Haunted and Soilwork at the Jager tent. Soilwork were damn good live as well, playing their standout tracks “Stabbing the Drama,” “Figure Number Five,” “Nerve,” “Follow The Hollow” and the closer “As We Speak.” They are quietly building an impressive discography. Check this band out if you get the chance.
I caught It Dies Today and A Dozen Furies from a distance because I was in line to get my “Soundtrack To You Escape” CD signed by In Flames. The guys were cool and chatted with me about the weather and touring among other things.
Later in the day we we also met A Dozen Furies and the top metal band in America today, Shadows Fall. The bands were all very cool to us and seemed happy to be talking with the fans and signing posters.
As I Lay Dying and Killswitch Engage, two of the stronger second stage acts, ripped through blistering sets late in the afternoon.
Rob Zombie took the stage in front of a backdrop of half naked women with his new band, and broke out all the hits you’d expect, from both his solo career and White Zombie. He also had some pretty funny between song chatter, making fun of his band members and playing “Sweet Home Alabama,” which he called the “Summer Fun Jam.” His set included:
Super Charger Heaven
More Human Than Human
Living Dead Girl
Dead Girl Superstar
Zombie was great, but seemed worn out on stage, which was understandable because of the heat. The songs still sounded fresh though after all these years.
I made it to the main stage just in time for In Flames. They are without a doubt one of the hidden secrets of metal and my favorite band. They tore through a 20-minute set, but I was happy to finally see them live. The crowd wasn’t too energetic, but they usually aren’t for the main stage opening bands. I think a lot of people though realized how great a band In Flames really is. Their set was:
Touch Of Red
The Quiet Place
My Sweet Shadow
Not being a big fan of Black Label Society, I skipped out to get some dinner. What I heard wasn’t bad. Zakk Wylde is a great guitar player, but I just can’t get into the vocals. I’m not really sure why, I just can’t. I want to like this band, but they just fall a little flat for me.
Shadows Fall showed why they are the premiere American metal band. After seeing them twice now, I can say they have probably the best sound of any band I’ve seen live. Brian Fair is an amazing frontman, and they have excellent stage presence. They played an absolute blistering set of:
Destroyer Of Senses
Thoughts Without Words
The Light That Blinds
Enlightened By The Cold
Stepping Outside The Circle
Inspiration On Demand
What Drives The Weak
Mudvayne took the stage with lead singer Chad Grey wearing a gorilla suit and holding a baseball bat for some reason. This band is loud – one of the loudest of the day and they only have one guitar player. They were fairly good but got a little boring in the middle of their set. I think they need to decide what kind of band they want to be. Are they going to play their old style math-metal material, or are they going to play their Pantera-esque groove driven material of their last two releases? I would vote for the latter.
About a half an hour later, metal legends Iron Maiden were on. Much like Judas Priest last year, this is who many were here to see. They were amazing. Bruce Dickinson is a cheerleader on stage, keeping the crowd into it at all times, running and jumping around, wearing costumes and sounding as good as ever. The three guitarists make for an awesome live sound and had me moving my head the whole time. Longtime mascot Eddie made an appearance, standing about 20 feet high. During “Number Of The Beast,” a 15 foot tall devil rose from behind the stage, with his head moving around and glowing blue eyes gleaming out at the crowd. The set consisted of songs from Maiden’s first four albums only, which were awesome to hear live:
Phantom Of The Opera
Run To The Hills
The Number Of The Beast
Hallowed Be Thy Name
After Maiden, I was almost completely worn out, but stuck around for about half of Black Sabbath. It’s almost amazing to still see Ozzy up there and doing it well. We’ve all come to know what to expect of Sabbath, but they were still solid, even playing a few different tracks, such as “Dirty Women” and “After Forever.” The crowd, of course, went crazy gave them what they wanted. If only Sabbath would release a new studio album one day.
That was it – another Ozzfest in the books. This year we got the Swedish Metal Invasion, and many heard what a lot of us have known for a long time. The Swedes churn out some of the best metal bands ever, and they are not stopping any time soon.
This Ozzfest thing just keeps getting better and better every year. How in the world will they ever top this years’? I guess we’ll just have to wait and see. Like Chad Grey of Mudvayne said from the stage, “This is like a heavy metal Christmas.”