Concert Review: Gods of Metal (Day 4) (Ozzy & Freinds, Opeth, Black Label Society, Lamb of God) Milan, Italy June 24, 2012

From the second I heard that one of my all-time favorite bands and fathers of heavy metal, Black Sabbath, were going to reunite for a tour I jumped on grabbing tickets as soon as possible.  No other bands were yet announced, but man, an opportunity to see Black Sabbath in what could be their final tour, hells yeah, you can’t put a price on that.  Unfortunately due to Tony Iommi’s battle with leukemia which arose after tour dates were set in the Black Sabbath show that was scheduled was canceled.  Luckily Mr. Tony Iommi was able to muster up enough strength to pull of a single homecoming show in his hometown of Birmingham, England and got to get the satisfaction of having the band come full circle and land back at home.  To Mr. Iommi, I say get well soon and I can’t wait till you can get the Sabbath ball rolling again.

But what about all the other shows that Black Sabbath promised to play?  Well, what’s the next best thing to Black Sabbath?  How about the face of the band, Mr. John Michel Osbourne, err, Ozzy!  Well, I bought tickets to see Black Sabbath, I’ve already seen Ozzy God knows how many times now and Black Sabbath only twice.  They tossed in Slash, Zack Wylde, and Geezer Butler, so I guess I can say I was sold on not trying for a refund on my ticket.  Having Opeth on the bill too, helped a pinch ;)  But before I get too ahead of myself, how about a little info on what else went down that day, it was a festival after all.

The final day of the festival had the best line-up in my opinion boasting bands such as one of my other all time favorites, Opeth, as well as Lamb of God, Trivium, Black Label Society, August Burns Red, Kobra and the Lotus, and some band that kills prom queens.  Due to my psychotic, American, loathing of the heat I made a compromise to be able to catch the most quality metal with having to spend the least amount of time in the sun.  With that compromise I choose to arrive at the festival grounds of Rho Fiera Milano at 4 o’clock leaving me with 8 hours to see Lamb of God, Black Label Society, Opeth, and The Prince of Darkness.  Apologies to the other bands that played that day, but roasting for half hour sets just didn’t seem worth it to me, maybe when you all pass through on headliners or support shows in climate controlled venues ;)

So me and my wife arrived and got to the grounds just in time to catch Lamb of God opening up their set.  This is the 3rd time I’ve seen the Virginia metallers and each time they come packed with an overabundance of piss and vinegar and no holds barred energy.  For as small of a man Randy Blythe is he has one hell of a stage presence flying from one corner of the stage to the other bellowing out his guttural vocals and headbanging at breakneck speeds.  The real star of their set was LoG’s phenomenal drummer Chris Adler.  I don’t know if he opts to use triggers on studio recordings, but at a live show that man wails on the drums with surgical precision and with a brutal fury I rarely have seen.  At one point I though he was hitting his drums so hard that he would crash through the bottom of the stage.  But for as unrelenting as his attack was he was able to maintain great flow and time never missing a beat.  The only down side to this is that the rush of drum blaring through the speakers really drowned out all the other instruments.  All in all, it was a good set with a nice mix of old and new songs from the band including “Ruin”, “Black Label”, “Omerta”, “Redneck”, “Ghost Walking”, and “Now You’ve Got Something to Die For”.

Following LoG’s performance I thought I’d take a walk around the festival grounds and see what kind of cool merch I could get my hands on.  Quickly I learned that I was to be greatly disappointed in this department.  If I were hungry you were taken care of as the sides of the venue were lined with hubs to grab a wide assortment of grub ranging from pizza to horse meat (no I’m not kidding).  Beer and alcohol was flowing but due to the heat and the desire to want to avoid any contact with a port-o-john I avoided partaking in the spirits.  What I really wanted was some cool metal memorabilia, namely cool new Opeth and Black Sabbath t-shirts.  So, naturally I make my way directly for the t-shirt stand.

Upon arriving at the little tent set up for festival merch I took a quick pursue.  To my dismay the official festival shirts are kinda lame and I’m not too up on wearing a shirt that plugs bands I don’t like such as Motley Crue and Guns and Roses (who played on previous days).  So, no go on that.  Opeth or Sabbath?  Not a single one in site and when I asked the attendant about them she told me they were coming, but they never did.  Oh well, I saved myself some cash and there wasn’t nary a memorabilia booth or vendor selling stuff (knock-off t-shirt sellers outside of the festival grounds not included, but I rarely buy from them because the quality of their wares isn’t very good) outside of food and booze to take that money from me, so all is good.  Back to my comfy little spot on the asphalt to get ready for Zack Wylde’s Black Label Society.

After the percussion assault that was LoG I was looking forward to something a bit slower and more melodic and BLS was just the cure.  Blasting out onto the stage in a Native American feathered head-dress Zakk greeted the crowd with the kick ass tune “Crazy Horse”.  To say he killed it would be and understatement.  The rest of the band was well-balanced and as almost technically proficient as Zakk himself.  Drums and bass weren’t overpowering and Zakk’s nasally vocals sounded great in a live setting.  The setlist was a mixed bag of tunes spanning all of BLS’s metal focused albums with a crazy shred solo at about halfway through the set.  With the exception of the awesome “Crazy Horse” opener, other standout songs included “Fire It Up”, “Bleed For Me”, and “Godspeed Hellbound”.  The riff focus of the band’s style really made them really easy to get into and groove to and Zakk’s over the top solo are always sweet music to a metalhead’s ears.

After a closing off the set with “Stillborn” (Ozzy not included unfortunately), BLS said their thank yous and goodbyes and I got myself ready to see the almighty Opeth.  Getting their required new album songs out of the way up front Mikael and friends opened their set up with the Nietzsche homage “The Devil’s Orchard”.  Not to knock the other bands of the day, but when compared to Opeth they just sounded sloppy in comparison and from just the first song that Opeth played you could hear how honed of a band they are.  There was perfect sound and control with Mikael perfectly singing every note in perfect pitch and Axe being the brutal and delicate drummer he is.  They continued with Heritage with the ‘mellow’ “I Feel the Dark” and zapped some energy into the audience with the Ronnie James Dio tribute “Slither” complete with Mikael acting like a super cheesy rock star climbing up on the drum stand doing butt shakes, feet in the air jumps, and big kicks.

Mellowing out a bit and yet a famous growl to be heard yet they gave us a nice little treat of “Windowpane” off of Damnation and the soulful “Burden” off of Watershed.  After giving a brief explanation as to why they weren’t playing ‘metal festival songs’ and proclaiming his love for PFM and even more love for his personal hero Eros Ramazotti, Opeth returned to Heritage for one final ‘chill’ tune, “The Lines in My Hand”.  And here’s where Opeth’s set just goes over the top.  Reaching for my favorite track off of Watershed they got the crowed stirred into a frenzy as people from all directions game rushing in at the sounds of the first notes of “Hex Omega”.  To anyone who might have thought that Mikael has lost his superior growl ability, fret not, the man is pure thunder and evil.  To drive that point home they played the fan favorite “The Grand Conjuration” next.  Live that song is a f’n beast, from the haunting sections to the terrifyingly insane parts, my body just got chills.

To not want to shortchange long time fans who want to hear some earlier works they reached back all the way to My Arms… and played ‘a song about demons (said in a lower tone)’.  A complete surprise “Demon of the Fall” shook the entire venue and bright smiles of old school fans were beaming under the spiral of thrashing hair.  And to close their set on a really, really high note Mikael asked the audience to do some headbanging, sans music.  Suffice to say it was a bit awkward, but the band seemed to get a good laugh out of it and asked that everyone continue as they dove into one of their all time heaviest tunes, “Deliverance”.  What else can I say other than for the 15 minutes they played it, they straight up killed it.  I may be a bit bias being the Opeth fanboy that I am, but man, did they steal the show.

After a quick set up it’s time for the big dog, the Prince of Darkness, Mr. Ozzy Osbourne to take the stage.  Now I’ve seen Ozzy more times than I can count, I’ve seen him perform perfectly and I’ve seen one of the most embarrassing shows ever with him at the center.  Given his age and health I was curious to see how well he got himself into shape for these concerts, especially with the fact that his best friend Tony is gravely ill and his son was just diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis a few days previous.  Let’s just say I wasn’t expecting much other than one final night with the Ozzman, as I didn’t think he would be able to go on performing anymore after this summer, and after his set, I don’t think he should.  I’m not saying it was the lowest of lows or even bad, but Ozzy’s seen better days.  He had many moments where his voice sounded good, but for every 4 notes he sang great there was one that just cracked or he just couldn’t physically push out.  For the lack of vocal skills he did make up for it in pure positive energy as he really feeds off the positive vibe of the crowd and visaversa.  His classic fire hose and buckets of water were there as well as the “Everybody go fucking crazy!”

Kicking off the set was “Bark at the Moon” performed with his current live band and new guitarist Gus G.  I guess his trick was to let his surrounding support be the spectacle of the show as each person who wasn’t Ozzy was pushing to be the biggest and loudest letting Ozzy get a few moments of rest in whenever possible.  It worked, as it’s a metal show and huge guitar and drum solos are always kosher in my book.  Also played with the ‘Solo Ozzy Band’ was other classics like “Mr. Crowly”, “I Don’t Know”, “Suicide Solution”, and “A Shot in the Dark”.  Taking an extender breather for about 10 minutes Gus G. gave an extended guitar solo.  I’m not going to pick favorite Ozzy guitarists (you all know Randy would win ;) ) but Gus has every right to jam in one of the most coveted guitarist slots ever.  Compared to Zakk, he really calls back to the energetic and bright sound of Randy Rhodes.  Good choice Ozzman.

For the next round of friends guitar icon Slash takes the stage as well as the grooviest bass player of all time, Mr. Geezer Butler.  Wasting no time they dive into the most famous metal song of all time, “Iron Man”.  Slash’s unique style really added a nice flavor to the tune as well as the following song, “War Pigs”.  The really highlight of the set was when both guest musicians got to shine with that song about Bill Ward’s beard, “N.I.B.”  Geezer grooved all over that classic intro he wrote all those decades ago and Slash added such a nice punch to the song that it became the high point of the whole set.

Taking the place of Slash, Zakk Wylde took the stage for a second time for the day and jammed out “Fairies Wear Boots” with Geezer, Ozzy, and crew.  Things got going when they returned to Zakk era Ozzy with a great rendition of “I Don’t Want to Change the World” where Ozzy sounded his best for the evening.  The crowd went wild for “Crazy Train” and after a brief pause they came back out to play “Mama I’m Coming Home” as an encore.  To close off the night, all the guests took the stage and played Ozzy’s favorite closing number, the Black Sabbath classic, “Paranoid”.  Man, how cool was it to see Slash and Zakk head to head guitar soloing live.  Definitely a once in a lifetime experience.

All in all it was a great day and was great to have one final goodbye to Ozzy.  Opeth was out of this world and BLS and LoG are always a pleasure to see live.  The Italians know how to get some great music for their festival and look forward to what next year brings.  Peace Love and Metal!!!!

P.S.: I have a bunch of photos and vids but due to the fact that they are all very large file sizes the uploading takes quite a while (7hrs for one baddly shot vid!!), so in time I will update this post with a picture gallery and more youtube links as I get them uploaded and organized.  I’ll keep you posted on the Facebook fan page when new media is added.

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About RiffRaff

Just takin' it easy for all you sinners.

Posted on 2012-06-25, in Concert Reviews and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Sounds like an awesome lineup…wish I could have had another taste of Opeth. It’s great to hear the growls are back, though in less frequency it gives me hope to hear The Grand Conjuration next time I see them. I guess we were lucky here to have cool weather at Download. I don’t think I would be able to handle the heat you describe in Italy all day long. At Download I only saw 1 1/2 bands in the tent.

    Seems the Ozzman has had better days. It seems cool to have seen all the guest musicians though. I can’t wait to see some of those videos you post. Sounds like you have about the same internet quality I have here. I can’t upload a video and play online Xbox at the same time…just not enough bandwidth.

    Great review of the festival! Any tickets for upcoming shows?

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