Ozzfest 2004: The NT Rundown
Sam Gordon
8/29/2004 5:06:28 PM

Ozzfest 2004 was conceived to represent the best of Heavy Metal and all its subgenres: death metal, hardcore, punk metal, thrash metal…the list goes on. On Thursday, August 12th, Ozzfest 2004 came to pummel suburban St. Louis—but nobody expected that one of the coolest aspects of the show would be the weather. With freak thirty-below-normal temps in the low sixties, it was probably a good thing considering 90% of the crowd wore all black.

The second stage lineup included crowd favorites such as Slipknot and Hatebreed, and lesser-knowns such as Every Time I Die, and Italy’s Lacuna Coil. As is usually the case, the crowds showed a liking for many of the second stage bands, and even more so for the fact that almost all of them made their way over to the FYE tent after they were done to sign autographs for anyone who wanted them.

Here are some noteworthy (good and bad) bands we caught:

The day started with upwards of 15 bands playing on the second stage, beginning at the unlawful hour of 9:30 a.m. Unfortunately, most missed the killer band God Forbid—and we suggest you check out their latest release, Gone Forever.

Every Time I Die – Any band daring to take the second stage at 9:30 a.m. gets props for that and that alone. With the vibe of bands like Glassjaw, ETID let loose their sarcastic attack on modern life--completed with “Ebolorama,” their best-known track from the new album, Hot Damn!. The sound was good, the high-end vocals worked, and the morning crowd seemed into it as they trickled in. Besides, who can knock a band that makes a MTV girl dress like a cow with a cowbell? If that’s not symbolic, what is?

Unearth- There is a real metal resurgence going on here. The Maiden-esque riffs were pulled off great, and the lead singer put foth tons of energy. It’s too bad that the MTV poster girl had to be doing aerobics in a black leather outfit—that really lowered their cred a few notches. Unearth is a band that needs to be heard, with a geo-political message mixed with the anguish of humanity. It’s also unfortunate that they played so early because they would have had a much better response later in the day.

One of the bigger acts on the second stage, Otep, got the crowd cheering, and managed to piss others off playing only a few songs between anti-war lectures. No matter what your politics, the crowd was there for the music, but Otep seemed to forget that. Musically, they were a disappointment.

Hatebreed really had the crowd crazy with one of the best moshpits of the day. Hatebreed’s Jamey Jasta single-handedly brought hardcore to the forefront of modern metal, while also keeping it underground with their uncompromising sound and change-your-life lyrics. The band demands respect, with a message and a method in their two and three minute songs. There’s a reason Slayer brings this band along every time they tour.

Throwdown- despite Throwdown’s latest video portraying an Ozzfest version of the great movie, Fight Club, Throwdown were hardcore through and through. Luring kids to the second stage with ‘the milk man’ was crafty: a ‘milk man’ had to chug a gallon of milk for every girl passed overhead during their songs. After lots of puking and spitting, the ‘milk man’ survived two and a half gallons and a complete song, and went for an immediate trip to the stomach pump. Despite the gimmickry, the music was tight and they pulled off a near perfect cover of Sepultura’s “Roots”. Oh, and telling the moshing crowd in front to turn around and charge the standing rear section was priceless.

Southern Californians aren't usually known for their depressive harcore, but Atreyu is working hard to change all that. And from the response of the kids in St. Louis, the land of sunshine should soon be washed in black. As the summer Ozzfest tours (and their off-date shows with Lamb of God) come to a close, Atreyu head home for a short break before joining The Used on their headlining U.S. tour from mid-October through mid-November, when they join labelmates Taking Back Sunday for another tour. Atreyu will also be traveling to New Orleans this fall to hook up with the winner of the Vampire Tour contest!

Bleeding Through- Any band that samples from the movie, The Boondock Saints has to be killer. If the lineup and energy of Bleeding Through’s stage show continues, this group will be huge. The somersault antics of the Italian lead singer (is Italy the new source for major metal?) combined with his crushing vocals tear holes in your heart as well as your eardrums. It’s too bad their song, “Number Seven With a Bullet” was absent from the set list, and it was tough getting a look at their beautiful keyboardist. If you’re into energized performances, see this band’s live DVD. Metalcore has never sounded so metal, and a frontman hasn’t energized a performance like Bleeding Through’s since the Deftones.

Lamb of God- Easily the most anticipated second stage act of the day. When the “Ashes of the Wake” banner dropped, LOG chants began to ricochet through the ever-expanding crowd. On stage right was a naked idiot in a leopard skin g-string. His purpose, evidently, was to shout at and insult. The senseless stage show soon kicked into some of the heaviest and tightest riffs of the day. The final song of the set, “Black Label.” A band with music this intense (not heard since Slayer’s Reign in Blood) really needs to come out and kick some ass, but unfortunately, only lead singer Randy had the energy at this show—the rest of the guys seemed to just go through the motions. If it had been any other Ozzfest, we might have blamed it on the heat. What was their excuse?

But when Slipknot came on, that was another story. This was the icing on the cake. With ten times the craziness of Hatebreed, it was clear that many of the fans came to Ozzfest solely for Slipknot. Having introduced themselves to the world at a late 90s Ozzfest, they now exert total crowd control with their high-energy stage antics--including mauling their instruments with everything from drum sticks to baseball bats! For some reason, their ridiculous get-ups still work for them, even with a handful of other bands copying. An easy half the crowd sported Slipknot t-shirts and with all the radio play they’re getting these days, Slipknot will probably be around for a long while.

The main stage kicked off with guitar guru Zakk Wylde and his band, Black Label Society. While BLS got many fans jumping and going crazy over the guitar solos, they only played about five songs before they left the stage. Bummer.

Next up was Superjoint Ritual, a side project of Pantera’s frontman, Phil Anselmo. Superjoint Ritual is not Pantera, and that’s not a problem. This is thrash punk meant to be felt and returned. Phil told St. Louis crowd they were great and said he meant it. In fact, he admitted that if St. Louis sucked, he’d tell them that, too. This band got the crowd going psycho, but word up to Phil: saying ‘fuck’ every other word doesn’t take a lot of skill or make you look any cooler. Give it a break, dude.

Next up, Norway rockers, Dimmu Borgir took stage. This is a band fit for Ozzfest if there ever was one. Whether or not death metal is your thing, Dimmu Borgir a band to get you interested. From the moment they entered the stage wearing all black leather and metal spikes/chains, the audience was captivated and then shredded with sound. There was talk that drummer Barker could never be replaced, but this session drummer, whoever he was, freakin' rocked the house. Dimmu Borgir made a lot of new fans from this performance, and it was cool to meet them at the FYE autograph tent. We hope to see them touring the states again soon.

Metal gods Slayer were next up, and it wouldn’t be an understatement to say they owned every band at the show. With their Nazi SS-like banners, Slayer set the crowd up to be assassinated with sound. As a band that rarely does festivals, this was a real treat. The mentors for every aspiring metal band, and it wouldn’t have been possible for the fans on the lawn to have gone any crazier. Every person there seemed to know every lyric to every song played, including the all-time thrash greatest hits, “War Ensemble,” “Die by the Sword,” “Chemical Warfare,” “South of Heaven,” and “Raining Blood.”

Everyone knew that it was the reunited Judas Priest that made this year’s Ozzfest so awesome. The long-awaited set by the metal legends appropriately took the stage as darkness fell. The stage was set in metal: metal drums, stairs, platforms…everything). Halford made his entrance through the band’s giant eye backdrop and opened with “The Hellion” and “Electric Eye.” They even did their old radio hits, “Breaking the Law”, “Living After Midnight,” and “You’ve Got Another Thing Comin’”. Their long set kept many fans happy, and others bored. With no plans for further live dates in 2004 following Ozzfest 2004, Judas Priest’s website says the guys will be finishing off a new studio album set for a December 28, 2004 release. Christmas may be a few days late this year. A 2005 world tour is in the plans, too, along with a DVD of their live show in Barcelona, Spain. Also, be sure to watch www.nighttimes.com in the next couple of weeks for a review of their new box set.

Didn’t somebody say it was Black Sabbath’s final, once-in-a-lifetime reunion a few years ago? Whatever. Black Sabbath played on a comparatively bare set to their predecessors, but then, the music speaks for itself. When the mighty Sabbath took stage, every fan at OzzFest stood up and sang along—songs like “War Pigs” and “Iron Man” as well-known as our own face in the mirror. Ozzy, Iommi, Geezer and Ward stood close together, all of them dressed in the requisite black except for Ozzy who chose to make his Satanic statement in sweatpants. As usual, Sabbath put on a pretty decent show, despite Ozzy’s usual Alzheimer’s on lyrics and singing out of tune. The music was good, but you gotta laugh watching Ozzy still trying to do the rock thing. Hopefully next year, the number of sidestage bands could be cut in half so we can hear more than four songs per band.

So here’s how it all boiled down: St. Louis got twelve hours of killer metal for the price of one Metallica ticket. Mass drunkenness withstanding, it seems the pot and the cool weather kept a happy, peaceful vibe. Maybe it was those THC infused lollipops selling for two dollars. We didn’t feel cheated. Thanks, Ozzy.


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