Ozzfest 2007
Sleep Train Amphitheatre
Sacramento, CA July 17th, 2007

Main stage: Ozzy Osbourne, Lamb of God, Static X, Lordi

Second stage: Hatebreed, Behemoth, The Showdown, Mondo Generator, Circus Diablo, 3 Inches of Blood, Daath, In the Moment, Chthonic, Nile

It’s been a couple years since we’ve ventured out to the ever-fearsome Ozzfest. Growing weary of the cookie-monster bands that seem to plague this-type of event is the chief component that has kept us away. This year proved somewhat different with a few interesting elements thrown in. The female fronted In This Moment and the last minute addition of Taiwanese dark metal giants Chthonic promised to stir things up. Plus we have the return of Lamb of God and Hatebreed who are fast becoming Ozzfest regulars.

We cheated and stayed out the night before to catch four bands, Lamb of God, Hatebreed, Behemoth and 3 Inches of Blood on their off-fest stop in Reno for gas money, booze and women. The club (Stoney’s) had to be 120-degrees inside turning the four-hour show into a sold-out, sweat-soaked sauna. Undeterred Canadian Priest-worshippers 3 Inches of Blood stormed through a riff-infested set of classic metal carnage. Behemoth, in full leather, raised their forked-tongues with lashings that burned like of Satan’s whip upon the wicked. New Haven, Connecticut-based Hatebreed delivered east-coast hardcore by the buckets while Lamb of God fanned the crowd in a whirlwind of “pure American Death Metal.”

With ears still ringing from the night before, we tanked up “the beast” and made our way over the Sierra Nevada’s to the parched California farmland of Marysville. With temperatures hovering in the low 90’s sunscreen and water were essential. Shade was minimal and as the first bands of the day filled the second stage, sweat started to drip. Nile was impressive even with their limited 20-minute set. Guitarist/singer Karl Sanders constantly destroys with extreme speed and agility. Chthonic ignited frenzy and were oddly entertaining donned in makeup and shredding with conviction. After In the Moment’s stunning and near operatic performance it was time to find the nearest watering hole.

From 12 years of doing this festival, the Osbourne’s know exactly where their bread is buttered…merchandise. Sure the show was free (after purchasing Ozzy’s new CD Black Rain) but out here in the California sun it’s T-shirts, tour programs, mugs, hats and key chains all competing for your last dollar – food is secondary to souvenirs. Typical for all day festivals a hamburger will set you back 8 bucks, a slice of pizza $6. Don’t complain; your buddy in the UK pays double that. Plenty of boutiques line the central walkway. Alluring are an assortment of leather and studs shops, more t-shits, ladies panties (courtesy of I Love Vagina.com) and loads of tattoo-piercing accessories vendors. All fun to look at but it is the rock we came for and the stage was calling.

3 Inches of Blood were even better the second day. A throw-back to NWOBM with a modern twist they filled the air with massive volume and reverberating stage presence. Guitarists Justin Hagberg and Shane Clark make for an intimidating twin-guitar attack while Cam Pipes does his best Rob Halford scream. QOTSA and Kyuss alum Nick Oliveri’s new incarnation of Mondo Generator brought a stoner vibe to the otherwise grinding metal fest with plenty of old school Sabbath action on the frets. The set went down a storm but there was some serious action on stage over the sound. [This week Mondo Generator was replaced by Roadrunner Recording artist DevilDriver – too bad Mondo killed! ed].

High point of the second stage had to be Circus Diablo. Granted most had no clue who these guys were but they came out polished and ready to roar. Led by Camp Freddy vocalist Billy Morrison (also ex-Cult), Ricky Warwick (The Almighty) bassist Brett Scallions (Fuel) and drummer Jeremy Colson (Steve Vai) the supergroup of sorts tore through several tracks off their debut record and closed with the Sex Pistols “Pretty Vacant.” The crowd went ballistic as Morrison pulled out his Iggy Pop moves sidewinding around the stage in pure punk mania. The Showdown impressed but it was time for more liquid refreshment and off to the interview tent. (See our interviews with Shane Clark of 3 Inches of Blood and Billy Morrison).

The main stage opened a 6:00 PM sharp. Horror fans screamed with delight as Lordi lumbered on stage. The Finnish five-piece are the equivalent to GWAR but with better songs. Static X was hair raising, literally the dude (Wayne Static) had hair three-feet high off his head. Having seen them in OF 1999 is was interesting to see how they’ve developed as a band – industrial metal at peak volume. Lamb of God was the perfect opener for Ozzy with lead vocalist Randy Blythe shouting, “Who’s fest is this?” and the crowd chanting back “Ozzy, Ozzy, Ozzy.” I’m sure that puts money in the bank at the end of the tour. The Prince of Darkness himself looked and sounded as strong as ever. Zakk in full kilt, labor boots, mountain man hair and beard, played his bull’s-eye axe like a true warrior. He struck all the right poses, nailed solo after solo and kept the whole thing heavy. The entire band looked more the part of a motorcycle gang with denim jackets and tattooed sleeves. The Ozzman soldiered on only stumbling with the newer songs – but he’s immortal so we forgive him all the same.

Website: Ozzfest 2007

Special thanks to Amanda Cagan of ABC PR and Bari Lieberman at MOS.