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Sounds Of The Underground Festival



Featuring: As I Lay Dying, In Flames, Trivium , Cannibal Corpse, Gwar , Terror, The Black Dahlia Murder, Behemoth, The Chariot and Through The Eyes Of The Dead
Date: 7/15/06
Venue: Starland Ballroom, Sayerville , NJ
Reviewed By: Rich Catino

 

I don't know what it is with the American Heavy Metal listener but ever since the 80's ended you have been grossly misled as to what the future of metal was. My first item to address is everyone was brainwashed by the media and radio to buy into false forms of “Heavy Metal” like grunge, rap rock, alternative, nu metal, and now baggy pants wearing Hot Topic and metalcore bands. What a shame…….

Sounds of the Underground, and Ozzfest , are the two commercially largest heavy music festivals the States have to offer and nothing really to offer in the way of bands who are to succeed the throne when legends like Maiden, Priest, Sabbath, Kiss, ACDC, Dio , Motorhead , Metallica , Motley Crue and others from the 70's and 80's are gone. Face it these guys cant tour forever.

When it comes to 90% of the bands found on both the SOTU and Ozzfest festival I pose this question……and my second point……..

Where are the Ronnie James Dios , Rob Halfords , Bruce Dickinsons , Paul Stanleys , Michael Kiskes , and Geoff Tates of the day????

Well I can tell you this… you are not going to find them on the American Metal festival stages at this rate because they are in no way found at the Sounds of the Underground. For some reason, at least when it comes to the larger commercial festivals, many of the bands on the bill are of the same sound and are based on nothing more than aggression. Little to no variety and melody is not even an option.

The majority of these bands don't create memorable chorus' or even write riffs and guitar solos that will be air guitared for years to come. Its not happening here people you have to bring your attention to the festivals in Europe and bands who have been headlining those stages for years. Start buying their music and bring them to the States.

What was special about the bands from the 70's and 80's was that each band usually had a great, or at least distinctive, singer backed by talented guitar players who consistently wrote memorable guitar riffs and solos that were as important to the songs as were each chorus.

I bet these facts are far and few between when it comes to these Sounds of the Underground and Ozzfest bands.

With all the variety found in the 80's, even the heavier bands had a recognizable singer. Slayer, Testament, Megadeth , Overkill, King Diamond, and the music was equally as memorable because of the talented musicians.

With all that in mind the bands featured at SOTU I was there primarily for Behemoth, Cannibal Corpse, Trivium and Gwar .

Behemoth are clearly one of the monsters of Death Metal and truly live up to their name. With devastatingly precise riffs and well arranged, yet brutal, song structure, Behemoth know how to capture an audiences attention. Gotta love all the uniform windmill headbanging the band does. While each songs delivery is fast and furious and vocals are barked, well placed dual guitar leads give em melody and tempo changes allows Behemoth to “Conquer All” and throw “Christians to the Lions”.

Trivium are one of the few newer American bands I feel, among God Forbid, Lamb of God and Chimera, who have something to offer as Trivium appears to be evolving which is what I like to hear especially from a band of this style. They are becoming more traditional utilizing more melody into both their guitar riffs and vocals, veering away from the current “ metalcore ” trend that the kiddies like. In Flames…..what happened to these guys??? They started off as Swedish melodic Death Metal and over the last few releases, which is what they primarily focus on for their song selection live, have developed a little bit of the metalcore style. Not cool guys.

Terror, now this was gay, with the bass player doing ridiculous round house karate kicks to jump start each song, were nothing more than theme music for every skin head mid west KKK rally. The kids must love this stuff. The Chariot was just garbage, looked like they just got out of bed and sounded like it to boot. Through the Eyes of the Dead, As I lay Dying, The Black Dahlia Murder, more noise, all the same. Do any of these bands know how to sing? Well Black Dahlia has potential in the playing department, guitar leads and rhythm patterns can be good at times.

What can you say about Cannibal Corpse other than when you think of Death Metal they have to be the first band that comes to mind. With George Fisher still barking out the flesh ripping vocals and the dual thrash guitar attack one cant help but picture an army of the living dead after you while the band pummels through song titles like “The Time to Kill is Now” and “Make them Suffer” off their latest “Kill” to classics like “Meat Hook Sodomy” and “Hammer Smashed Face” you know what your in for.

Ok Gwar is clearly the entertainment for this festival hands down. Seeing Gwar live is a must and (Warning: when attending be sure to wear either a rain coat or clothes you really don't care if they get stained because you will get hit with some kind of fluids), is like watching a cheesy SciFi monster movie crossed with a circus sideshow, throw in a few acts of sadism and everyone is having fun.

When Gwar makes their initial entrance on stage its like watching a football team hit the field for the starting kick off as each member of the Gwar goon squad is fully dressed in a rubber latex costume armed with their respectable instruments and/or weapon. As the show progresses, several extra characters start to collect on the stage and begin violating or dismembering each other with larger than life props like giant swords, dildos, axes, etc. At one point during the show even President Bush (who was not safe from the bands antics) was brought out on stage as was the dinosaur for which the song “ Gor Gor ” is named. Really I kid you not there was a giant latex rubber T-Rex that came out on stage and did battle with the lead singer engulfing his head into the dinosaurs jaws and dowsing the stage with blood.

On top of all these activities, on both sides of the stage are giant water guns, properly fabricated, and at any given time during the show can be manned by one of the members allowing them to hose down the crowd with colored fluids resembling blood, urine, and slime. By the time the show was done both the crowd and bouncers, us photographers also not safe, were either tainted red, blue, or green. All in good fun and highly entertaining.

On a closing note the festival itself was run very well and everything was basically on time which is great to see as we all know how festivals don't always run according to plan. There were plenty of vendors in the Starland Ballroom parking lot selling t shirts and food.

My only problem, and that is if it is one because for all I know this festival will forever be geared to the Hot Topic buyer, is the variety or lack there of bands on the bill. Do the people who book the bands for the American festivals learn anything from European ones like Wacken or Bang Your Head or am I asking too much?

 





 
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