Janice French

10:32 14th July 2006

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A7X - Matthew Sanders
Nearly twenty thousand people pour into the partly covered main stage area at the Cricket Pavilion as the metal feast continues on. Innovators of the new millennium, the London band DragonForce is like nothing ever before to hit the stage. Their unique, highly skilled power and speed metal is a rare treat. Like a sweeping Viking saga “Through the Fire and the Flames’ begins with Fred Leclercq’s bass and Vadin Pruzhanov’s keyboard setting a melody in. Dave Mackintosh’s drums rumble like thunder then we are stunned by the twin guitar work of Herman Li and Sam Totman. Yes there is such a thing as ludicrous speed and these lads prove it. The epic quality to Z.P. Theart’s vocals tie it all together into an amazing, jaw dropping live performance at speeds that Gigwise didn’t think were humanly possible.
Lacuna CoilThe Italian Goth metal band Lacuna Coil is up next. The vocals of Cristina Scabbia and Andrea Ferro create an otherworldly and ethereal sound that is akin to the edge and power of Grace Slick. They take us deep into the metal realm as five members line up across the front of the stage, crouch down and head bang, sending their dark hair flying during the intro to ‘Enjoy the Silence’ - a cover of the Depeche Mode classic. Cristina and Andrea stand face to face and sing while the audience beat their hands in the air. The music lulls, Cristina lets out a haunting, melodic cry and Andrea puts his finger to his lips “Shhhh...” It ends in silence. The crowd erupts into a heartfelt cheer!  ‘What I See’ starts with a clashing bass and drums whilst Cristina gets on her knees, bows her head and releases a long wandering siren call. She gets up and sings with Andrea and at one point during this song all the music stops, a singular cascading guitar plays then the full instrumentals kick back in. It’s a dramatic and enticing presentation as she finishes this piece on her knees just as it had begun. They play ‘Our Truth’ which is on the soundtrack of the movie “Underworld:Evolution,” then bow and leave. The applause and screams continue long after they are gone and rightfully so.

Hatebreed gets the rabble pumped up as their self assured and adrenaline fueled metalcore music takes over the stage. A heavy chugging bass brings in the anthemion ‘Live For This’ to a jumping, screaming mob in the pit. They beat the rock sign in the air and begin to form the pavilion’s first mosh of the evening. Jamey Jasta rages “If you don't live for something, You'll die for nothing…” It seems everyone is standing now and a deafening cheer ensues when this forceful band is done.
By naturally giving pure metal a slight infusion of the punk and hard rock that permeates the California west coast scene Avenged Sevenfold has created an exciting, clean and timeless sound that is entirely their own. Metal ramps are set up along side of The Rev's drums and smoke starts to bellow out on both sides of the stage, strobe lights flash and they launch into ‘Beast And The Harlot.’ A low build up explodes into a fast driving beat and M. Shadows' steely vox sears, soars and harmonizes as he takes us through the debaucherous landscape of Babylon. During this amazing piece Synyster Gates and Zacky Vengeance play piercing long riffs that leave the audience reeling. ‘Eternal Rest’ haunts us on a blood red stage with mixed vocals, intense riffs and passion. With the next song the air is charged and it’s as if the crowd can feel it coming, twenty thousand people are suddenly on their feet roaring as M. Shadows voice winds up and he flies into ‘Bat Country.’ Yellow lights and strobes change to blue as his vocals turn dream like. Johnny Christ, the bassist, Zacky and The Rev line up on platforms at the front of the stage and give us metal perfection on strings then smoke belches out around them and they retreat. A white spotlight drops down on The Rev as he pounds the frantic beat. Colored lights flash and settle down to a deep red as M. Shadows crouches on the center platform and delivers the rest of this immersive song. All hands are in the air and the shrieking crowd goes insane.

A silver cloth is pulled across the stage as Disturbed sets up. The curtain drops like a feather and immediately a roar breaks out and all eyes are on David Draiman, the vocalist. John Moyer’s bass chugs deep and a familiar primal cat call is heard then ‘Stricken’ takes the crowd over. It leaves us breathless as Dan Donegan, lead guitarist, performs a cool, high and piercing lick then David’s voice soars and pounds out the next verse. It’s a rare experience at any concert to not just hear but feel the power of an artist voice and David accomplishes that quickly. He has a commanding, calm and powerful presence that is undeniably unifying as people sings ‘Just Stop’ with him. From top to bottom of the venue people hold up lighters and cell phones setting their faces aglow and creating a cool spectacle. Dave stands in a white spot light with his arm raised and makes a fist. Disturbed owns the place. Mike Wengren’s drums start a tribal beat, Dave gives a primal call and they play 'Down With The Sickness' while thousands beat their hands in the air.
Serj Tankian - System of a DownThe alternative metal music of System Of A Down is almost delightfully unclassifiable. It is fitting that they start with B.Y.O.B. a popular song for the desert people of Arizona. Regardless of the full meaning of the song we all sing along with “Everybody's going to the party have a real good time. Dancing in the desert blowing up the sunshine..” so much for setting askew the antiwar meaning behind this song as several people raise their cups full of beer skyward. ‘Chop Suey’ is skillfully performed. Let Gigwise put to rest the gossip. SOAD sounds better live and the difficult changes in tempo and vocal quality are performed easily by Serj Tankian. The performance is top notch and well worth the day of waiting as he launches into ‘Lonely Day’ with beautiful vocals are that clear and incredible. They play a ton of songs including ‘Lost In Hollywood’ and ‘Hypnotize.’ How can you neat that?
In 2006 Ozzy Osborne has brought together a rich soundscape in metal that hundreds of thousands will be delighted to experience on this tour. Ozzfest is a celebration of metal and all its facets. Thank you Ozzy and Sharon.

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Photo: Janice French