Summer is here and with it comes the rock festival season. At the forefront of the festivals to grace the Northwest is undoubtedly Ozzfest, which launched this year’s tour in Washington State. This marked Ozzfest’s eleventh year and featured some outstanding acts on both stages. All of the elements were present here, the vendors shelling out a variety of items that filled the air with that carnival-like aroma, and with the professionally painted bodies strolling around the general feeling was one of excitement.
Ozzfest has always been a metalbased affair and the second stage acts pretty much summed up the current state of metal. The standouts today were Black Label Society, All That Remains and of course, Strapping Young Lad. BLS is a staple on the Ozzfest menu and the fact that guitarist Zakk Wylde chose to play the second stage was generous, as he has always played main stage in the past. Zakk lives and breathes for playing, he plays his guitar as if it was an extension of himself and it always makes for an amazing performance.
All That Remains impresses me in the way they utilize vocal harmonics. They are now reaching that period in a band’s life where they convey confidence with their sound. When they played “This Calling” from their yet-to-be-released album The Fall of Ideals, the crowd genuinely dug it while many even mouthed the lyrics. Likewise, Unearth has grown up musically since their last Ozzfest show and it was a pleasure to hear them wailing again.
Ozzfest has always been known and respected for bringing new bands to the attention of the masses, and a good example today was Strapping Young Lad. SYL blew everyone away with a sample from their upcoming album The New Black called “You Suck.” It gives me faith in today’s metal heads to see the crowd reaction to the wildly manic antics of frontman Devin Townsend. DragonForce was a nice addition to the main stage simply because they are a perfect example of a hard working metal band with a unique sound. They were one of the better acts of the day. Disturbed and System of a Down never fail to draw favorable acclaim when they do an Ozzfest show. I love System’s latest record for what it is; an awesome document of this crazily artistic band and a piece of musical art.
The one headliner who truly earned his place on the roster was Ozzy Osbourne. We have all read about his health problems, but this man is still every bit the entertainer that he ever was. The song list was incredible, and through most of the set I was breathless. This man’s contribution to metal and music in general will never be disputed in my eyes. I feel extremely lucky to have been a part of this show.