OZZFEST 2004

By Eddy Metal

This was one kickass show! Wow! The sound was damn good, the bands rocked and the weather was good, at least for a while. I arrived at the Verizon Wireless Center with high anticipation of seeing all-time metal legends Judas Priest, Black Sabbath and Slayer in action. ALL of these bands had the original lineup, too!

Dave Lombardo on drums with Slayer, Rob Halford back on vocals for Judas Priest and Bill Ward back on drums for Sabbath.

It was also a day of half-naked young women walking around wearing only shorts. Their upper body `apparel' was painted or airbrushed on. And the other half of the crowd was a collection of the biggest potheads in this geological region. Pot smoke was ever so thick, because the security seemed not to care what people were doing. I saw dudes smoking a fattie right in front of security. I was shocked. After all....This was Indiana, where a person can go to prison for having one pot seed. Not rain nor security would stop these rock fans, though: these people were ready to party. Therefore, it shoulda been called "potfest," or "breastfest." There was a guy walking around in a full Roman-style military helmet, with condoms hanging from it. Two women dressed in full dominatrix attire wander by. There were bloody tampons lying on the lawn. It was nuts.

Oh, yeah the old school bands were excellent, but I cannot forget the other great bands that played also. So I'll just review as I saw it, in the same order.

Preliminaries at Second Stage

Band One: The first band I saw was the Italian metalheads Lacuna Coil, who sounded good as usual but only got to play four songs, two of which were their MTV hits "Swamped" and "Heaven's A Lie." I don't think Lacuna was heavy enough for this crowd. I overheard one of two rednecks saying drunkenly "Who the hail is Lagunas Boil? Bring on Slayer!" I laughed as I continued to watch the band and was thinking, "What close-minded idiots!"

Band Two: Then southern California's Atreyu lit into their set of music, which reminded me of a blend of European black metal and with hardcore. I liked this band, but the bright green guitar has to go. It looked like a C.C Deville guitar from the Poison videos. The guitar color was gay, but I dug the music. I might have to look into buying this band's CD.

Band Three: Lamb Of God is pretty evil. There is an uncompromising darkness in their music. Parts reminded me of Slayer, others were clearly theirs. I had heard this band's name many times before, but I've never seen, or really heard them. The singer has a good death-metal voice, with some really good lows and growls.

But all in all, they didn't impress me too much. It seems this is a Slayer wanna-be band: good, but not nearly as good as Slayer.

Band Four: Hatebreed had the young crowd going, chanting their songs and generally being a huge obedient mass. The pit was definitely moving now. Headbangers Ball host/Hatebreed vocalist Jamie Jasta can certainly work a crowd.

Not being a big fan of their music, I must admit that they have came a long way from the beginning. The band was tight and rockin'. Definitely topnotch hardcore. No doodoo here. I would have to say that Hatebreed stole the show on the second stage.

Band Five: The headlining second stage band, Slipknot, was a bit more than I could chew. Yeah, the extra drums, crazy outfits, pounding on beer kegs and jumping around were cool and all, but somehow "it" wasn't there.

I was disappointed, as the vocals sounded average and the guitars were so downtuned, notes were almost indistinguishable. It was hot as hell, my feet were getting tired and my forehead was starting to blister in the relentless sun.

Therefore, I had to retreat to shade, like a bee-yotch. Besides, I had to find a good spot on the lawn to watch the metal legends play.

Main Stage Mayhem

The first band on the main stage was Black Label Society, who sounded great, dishing out heavy as hell blues metal. Former Ozzy Osbourne guitarist Zakk Wylde is amazing at his trademark pinch harmonic guitar style. He is king of the squalls. His vocals were pretty good too, as he threw out some tormented-soul melodies.

The audience was recovering from the brutality of Slipknot, so I think blues metal maybe not have been what the crowd was into. But some people dug it, including me.

Then Superjoint Ritual tried to rock the house but failed miserably. Once again the band sounded sloppy as hell. Muddled. I barely recognized my favorite song by them. Phil tried to cash in on his Pantera days, but the fans would have none of it. "Do you remember me?," "Cmon now, I wanna see more!" Some liked it, but most were anxious for Slayer. He seemed so disgusted with the response that he said "he would never release radio garbage, like OTHER bands." Phil needs to get over Damageplan's success. He had it made, but let drugs ruin everything. Now he is opening for Dimmu Borgir and has to try to get people into his music. Poor Phil. But to Phil's credit, he did not seem too messed up: actually, quite sober.

But then again, with Sharon Osbourne nearby, he was probably scared to come out trashed. Luckily, they didn't play long. Besides, I was looking forward to hearing some Norwegian black metal, in the form of Dimmu Borgir. No disrespect to SJR, I love their newest CD, but I just don't think they are that good live.

Dimmu Borgir is from Norway and they play Norwegian black metal, which is kinda like classical music and European metal mixed. They have keyboards, wear vampire makeup and black leather.

Sounds silly, but these guys are excellent musicians. Alas, I don't think the Indiana hardcore scene was into these guys as much. In fact, I doubt if 90% of the people there had ever even heard of Dimmu! "Do you want to hear some Norwegian black metal?" growled Dimmu vocalist Shagrath. Crickets were heard mating, as 10 people cried out "yeah!" Disgusted, Shagrath replied sarcastically, "suuuuure you are."

I'm sure they were wishing to be home in the dark forests of Norway, because they pretty much got ignored. It's a shame, because I like Dimmu Borgir. They are different.

Next came the true heavy metal demons....Slayer, with the all-original lineup. This was probably the best I have ever heard them. Tom Araya was in fine vocal form, hitting every high note. And drummer Dave Lombardo was definitely at home, finally returning to the band he loves so much. The band belted out classic metal tracks "Mandatory Suicide," "Dead Skin Mask," "War Ensemble," "South Of Heaven" and " Reign In Blood" as well as newer tracks like "God Hates Us All." The pit was in full force now as dark clouds and lightning, descended like a biblical plague upon the Verizon Wireless Center. Judas Priest and Black Sabbath were coming up next, rain or lightning, I wasn't going anywhere! The only way I was leaving was....dead.

Judas Priest came on as it started to rain, but I didn't care. Luckily, I had the foresight to buy some ponchos at Wal-Mart on the drive up, but the wind was blowing the rain sideways, onto my lower half. My shorts and shoes were getting soaked, but I stood my ground.

It was the return of the vocal legend and self-admitted pipe smoker, the Eighties metal icon, Rob Halford, not to mention the creators of true heavy metal guitar, duo guitarists extraordinaire, Glen Tipton and K.K Downing. These cats were my guitar inspiration, so I was very stoked and happy to see them playing in front of thousands again. Even Slayer admits that without Judas Priest, Slayer would not exist! After all, they did invent the double axe attack.

The first song was "Electric Eye," then they waded into a set filled with classic Priest tunes such as "Touch Of Evil," "The Sentinel," "Beyond The Realms Of Death," "Breaking The Law," "Painkiller" and the epic masterpiece," Victim Of Changes" was incredible. Rob then did his trademark move. He rode a Harley Davidson onto the stage, stuck the mic near the exhaust and let her go. That Harley was heard for miles. The crowd was ecstatic. As the engine roared, they started the classic "Hell Bent For Leather." They ended the night with their most popular tune, "You Got Another Thing Coming," which Rob had the crowd of hardcore kids singing! Hardcore kids singing Judas Priest! It was cool, to an old metalhead like me.

All in all, Priest sounded good, except two small guitar parts that are particularly difficult. I think maybe Glen Tipton had a twinge of arthritis on the parts. Other than that, the guitars were flawless. Rob did an excellent job on vocals considering his age but time has taken some of the range from his mighty lungs. Other times, he was slacking on some vocal parts to do others well. This is a sign of shortness of breath.

Another bummer was when he hit a super high note, the sound guy boosted Rob so much, that it was almost unbearable! (I will never have kids now.) And I am betting that all-glass within a ten mile radius was shaking and vibrating. He still can sing like no other, make no mistake about that. I was most impressed by his vocals on "Touch of Evil," "Victim of Changes" and "Painkiller."

The metal machine is back! Expect a full length CD out in December or so.

Oh yeah, if you like JP, buy the Metalogy Box set that came out recently.

It's very good and the "live" bonus DVD from the "Screaming For Vengeance" tour, is almost worth the price in itself.

Black Sabbath

By this time, my friends were whining like little beeyotches, because it was raining nonstop. All day long they were making fun of Ozzy, saying "he will be wheeled out in a wheelchair," or "dolly." By the time it was all over, my pals were eating crow.

Because Ozzy was in fine form as he led the Black Sabbath express through the dark clouds and rain that drenched us lowly concertgoers.

Ozzy started off the night walking onto the stage with a bucketful of water. I thought he'd heave it on the crowd or something. But he went up to the mic and poured the bucket over his head and said to the wet and miserable crowd, " Now, we are even, MF'er's!"

With that, they started playing "War Pigs." As I said, Ozzy was in fine form, wasn't lazy, wasn't immobile and was pretty much jumping around like a 30-year old madman!

At one point, Ozzy told the crowd a story. Ozzy said he was at his doctors, after his 4-wheeler accident and his doctor told him he shouldn't tour for at least eighteen months.

Ozzy then roared at the crowd, "do you know what I told him?" I told him "F**** you!"

"You fans are all the healing that I need!" The crowd then was deafening.

And ya know what? Seeing how he was so energized onstage. I believe him.

Sabbath played classics "Fairies Wear Boots," "Into The Void," Black Sabbath," "N.I.B" and "Iron Man" before I finally succumbed to the elements.

Yeah, I was totally happy to be seeing Black Sabbath and did not want to leave at all. But being bombarded by rain for two-and-a-half hours was starting to really suck. My shoes could have housed fish and my shorts were completely soaked.

I finally agreed with my pals that "this is enough" and we started for the car. I was bummed as I made my way to my vehicle, still trying to hear the song "Black Sabbath" in the distance.

Black Sabbath was f*****g awesome! Ozzy was trying to hit every note. Tony Iommi was amazing. And Bill Ward was phenomenal on drums. And Geezer wasn't a geezer.

Together they formed an incredibly tight dark musical experience of legendary proportions. They ARE the darkness. I am soooooo glad Ozzy had Sabbath play instead of the Ozzy Osbourne band! Don't get me wrong, I love solo Ozzy too, but this Sabbath lineup is unbeatable. (Well, maybe Randy Rhoads, Ruzy Sarzo, Tommy Aldridge and Bob Daisly, if Randy didn't die.)

The sound was incredible and the large video screens with the skulls were very cool. If these metal legends don't retire and you get another blessed chance to see them, do everything in your power to see Black Sabbath. The truth is, I would have driven 6 hours to see this show.

Props: I'd like to thank my boss, Tom Thornton, for letting me take time off from work to do this review and fill you folks in on Ozzfest2004. Thanks, Tom!