Headbanger's Ball - OzzFest at Alpine Valley

Alpine Valley Music Theater
East Troy
June 21, 1997

Ozzy Osbourne

Story by Tony Bonyata
Photos by Phil Bonyata

Last Saturday night a prehistoric monster invaded the grassy valley of East Troy. This monster, known as Ozzfest, consisted of a variety of heavy metal bands that ranged from scary to self-parodying. Led by one of the pioneers of metal, ex-Black Sabbath singer Ozzy Osbourne put together a show that was engaging at times and plodding and predictable at others.
Fear Factory A good majority of the show was dominated by lightening fast speed metal peppered with testosterone-infected power chords, unfortunately, a lot of these bands (Machine Head, Fear Factory, as well as the majority of the bands that played on the second stage, dubbed ("Never Never Land") all had the same low gravelly vocal delivery which sounded akin to an angry Cookie Monster.
Marilyn Manson Although the rapid-fire staccato beats and droning vocals of Fear Factory and the dynamic, intense sounds of Pantera were fully approved of by the crowd, this was confirmed by the sea of thousands banging their heads profusely to the rhythm of the music, it was the shock-rock of Marilyn Manson that really kicked the show into high-gear.
Manson, dressed in a beige girdle with black hose, broke into a a stellar set of songs from his latest album, Antichrist Superstar, as well as his previous album, Smells Like Children. An ominous, eerie figure, Manson along with band members, bass player Twiggy Ramirez, guitarist Zim Zum, drummer Ginger Fish and keyboardist Madonna Wayne Gacy put on a powerfully tight, industrial-flavored performance. As Manson started their signature cover of the Eurythmics "Sweet Dreams" the crowd started pelting the band with sod ripped up from the ground, not as a sign of disapproval but rather as some kind of punk ritual of acceptance. As Manson gestured with his hands to the crowd to give him their best shot, he along with fellow band mates were barraged with Wisconsin turf.
Pantera Ozzy Osbourne, at 48 looking more fit than he has in years, hit the stage and showed the audience that he still had what it takes, performing songs from his 11 solo albums including "Crazy Train", "Mr. Crowley" and a song that he dedicated to all the people that hate him entitled, "Suicide Solution". These songs, however, lacked the intensity and power of Pantera and Marilyn Manson and had it not been for Ozzy's fellow ex-band mates from the 70's heavy metal prototype band Black Sabbath, this headlining act could have been somewhat anti-climatic.
Opening with a video production of old Black Sabbath clips, the reunited Sabbath, with original guitarist Tony Iommi, bassist Geezer Butler, along with Ozzy and newcomer, drummer Mike Bordin (apparently the band didn't think that original drummer Bill Ward could cut the mustard for this reunion), brought the entire house to their feet and performed sterling renditions of their 70's classics "Children of the Grave", "Sweet Leaf", "Iron Man" and the title track "Black Sabbath".
Pulling out all the stops, Sabbath showcased their trademark grungy dirges with smokescreens, laser lights and Ozzy's fringe-laced arms flailing peace signs to the crowd. This band has never sounded better and one can only hope that some new material may develop from this reunion.
While it seemed for some time that heavy metal music was on the decline, it now seems apparent, like it or not, that shows such as OzzFest are rearing metal's ugly head once again to the musical forefront.

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