What wife of a famous Hollywood motion picture star appears as a singer in a heavy metal band on this DVD? Come on, take a guess. No? Well, read on, you may be as surprised as Judge Ryan Keefer was.
"Let's go kray-zahhhhh!!!"
Long before Ozzy Osbourne became a reality TV star, he was the lead singer of one of the greatest heavy metal bands of all time in Black Sabbath. When listening to any of the first five Sabbath albums, it's almost like the smokestacks that are so prevalent in England are next to your ear 24 hours a day. Osbourne, guitarist Tony Iommi, bassist Geezer Butler and drummer Bill Ward generated such songs like "War Pigs" and "Paranoid," songs that crystallized an aggression that few bands before or since have captured. Paradise couldn't last forever and the band's lineup changed when Ozzy left (or was fired, depending on who you ask). As a solo act, Ozzy has released a truckload of albums that have yielded such gems as "Crazy Train," "Shot in the Dark," or "Bark at the Moon." In the '90s, when Ozzy was pondering retirement, his mind must have been changed when he and his wife (and manager) Sharon noticed the success of day long concert tours like Lollapalooza and Lilith, and couldn't help but cater to the hard rock crowd. And that's when Ozzfest was born. The alumni of established acts on the "main stage" included Danzig, Slayer, Rob Zombie and Marilyn Manson. Acts on the "second stage" over the years have included Motorhead, System of a Down and Slipknot. The barrage of acts usually culminated with Osbourne at the end of the show, or in recent years, with Ozzy's reunion of his Black Sabbath bandmates.
Now, we've all seen Ozzy when he's not onstage. In his spoken word film You Saw Me Up There, Henry Rollins characterizes Ozzy as "totally cool down to earth kind of guy that you'd meet in a bar that doesn't really know where he is." And in seeing Ozzy take out the trash or use a universal remote control, maybe Rollins is onto something. But when you get Ozzy on a stage in front of 20,000 people, he becomes the guy who throws water on a crowd or runs across a stage before doing a pseudo frog hop of some sort. He knows his fans, and spends any credit he's earned from them over the last four decades by ensuring their necks are sore from banging their heads, and that their throats are made raw by screaming at the top of their lungs for two hours. In an era where today's bands charge WAY too much money for WAY too little musical entertainment, which is performed with little to no emotion, Ozzfest routinely lands in the Top 10 grossing tours every year by bucking that trend. The multi-act, multi-stage, day long festival of artists and music turns 10? Wow.
On top of that, Ozzfest gives fans a chance to enjoy heavy metal from both the proverbial students and teachers. The playlist from this particular video compilation appears to represent more recent bands from recent years' shows, but it's still a well-known bunch of performers. They are:
• "Caught in a Mosh" with the reunited Anthrax? Wow, that's a surprise, as singer Joey Belladonna comes back for a spin. The '80s metal band opening the disc is cool.
• "A Gunshot to the Head of Trepidation" by a newer band called Trivium. First off, two raised fists to the song title, but it's not that bad, all things considered.
• "Blind Eye Halo," also by a newer band called Soulwork, whose singer looks an awful lot like Phil from Pantera. The song is pretty quick, but they go as fast as they can and get the crowd going.
• "Bury Your Head" by another young group called the Haunted, which was also quick and dirty, but there didn't seem to be much that I remembered from it.
• "Voice of Sanity" by a band named Gizmachi. The song is interrupted by some interview footage, but this still didn't seem very distinguishable.
• "More Human than Human." Not having seen Rob Zombie play in a long time, it was pretty enjoyable to see this, and he always puts on an entertaining show.
• "You Can't Handle." The interesting part of this is that the singer looks A LOT like Jada Pinkett Smith (Ali). Holy crap, that is Jada! For curiosity, it's OK, just as aggressive as I thought, which wasn't too much.
• "A Threnody for Modern Romance" by It Dies Today. The song name is unique, bordering on pretentious, and sounds like Cookie Monster sung it. But that's a compliment.
• "Soul on Fire." The band H.I.M. may be known by many by it's most vocal supporter Bam Margera (Viva La Bam), but they put on an excellent show and hopefully they continue to get more notoriety with each album and show.
• "Awake and Lifeless" Second stage band A Dozen Furies plays what I'm guessing could be considered their hit, but it's not unlike anything else you've heard in the past hour of viewing this.
• "Dragula." Rob Zombie returns for another song to entertain the kids and instruct the new people on the magic of Rob.
• "Sucker Train Blues" Velvet Revolver plays one of their more well-known songs. And seeing parts of their concert before, they do OK, considering half their band was in rehab at one point or another.
To wrap up the performances, Ozzy and his old bandmates reunite for three Sabbath songs on this disc, specifically "War Pigs," "Iron Man," and "Paranoid." And if you're looking for any objective criticism from me on these performances, you won't find it.
Oh, and since we are talking about a heavy metal show, the requisite shots of musicians playing combined with the kids getting into mosh pits or pogoing (that's jumping up and down in place) are involved as well. The songs are recorded in two locations, from Camden, NJ, as well as England's famed Castle Donington, and both crowds heartily respond to any urging by the musicians. In between songs, Ozzy, Sharon and their son Jack all share their thoughts on the tour, its origins, the artists and the legacy since. From load in to breakdown, you get quick glimpses at it all. And all of the artists on the tour also share their thoughts too.
To their credit, Sharon must have kicked the arse of the collective production crew, as the performances are shown in widescreen and with DTS audio mixes to boot, and they're all pretty powerful. You even get a CD of the performances as well. The only downside I can think of is that perhaps with the use of the Internet and Ozzy's legions of fans, perhaps they could have held a contest of some sort to incorporate bootleg footage of older tours with some of the bigger names that appeared, to make this as complete a celebration of this annual music event as possible. But overall, this is much better than I expected, and if you're a fan of the show or the man whose name is part of the title of the tour, it puts you in the middle of the pit, dying to pay $7.50 for a bottle of warm water.
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