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Twisted Ball for the Damned

Slipknot / Fear Factory / Chimaira
Eagles Ballroom
Milwaukee, WI
April 24, 2004

Slipknot
Slipknot
Fear Factory
Fear Factory
Slipknot
Slipknot

Review by Phil Bonyata
Photos by Karen Bondowski

Take your earplugs out - ain't gonna do you any good. This is the music that the deaf can actually hear. Or more precisely - feel. Goosebumps replacing auditory perception and the deep battering of your heart in exchange for the ear splitting thunder of the bass and drums. Slipknot - the nine member freak show from Des Moines, Iowa or more accurately straight out of the Devil's loins - came to the sold-out Eagles Ballroom to annihilate rather than conquer. Their legion of devoted fans - known as Maggots - wouldn't have it any other way.
Slipknot The band pushes the envelope while it seeks the true meaning of danger. They encourage you to embrace negative thoughts - deal with them as you might. Apparently, the band has an outlet for their own demons - their music.
Slipknot invaded the stage as a victorious army ready to rape and pillage the willing masses. "The Blister Exists" had its sonic death march rattle even the most devoted masochists into fighting back with gatecrashing aggression. Swirling masses of people, resembling a turbulent sea on the verge of a hurricane, cascaded back and forth with only the sturdy walls of the venue containing the mayhem from spilling onto the streets outside. Lead singer Corey Taylor (number 8) incited the crowd with his demands to make peace with their inner demons. Let all apologies stroll hand-in-hand with the fading guilt. The relentless bombast marched forward with the bone shattering "Duality," the sinister "Disasterpeice" and the anguished "Purity."
Chimaira Slipknots' message is not mainstream, nor is it necessarily bad. Negative energy, while dealt with rather than suppressed, can actually be a good thing. It's the proper balance of good and evil that's essential.
Satan's symphony had the sonic assault increase with "Pulse of the Maggots." Corey Taylor demanded "all you Maggots get down on the ground and don't get up until I say shut the fuck up! " 99% of the audience fell to the floor and waited for their command to rise. It was an odd, but rather appealing sight. An entire audience on fire one moment and then willingly submitting to a demand of complete submission.
The band, all clad in ever-changing masks of the grotesque (the boys should checkout the disturbing Stanley Kubrick film "Eyes Wide Shut" for some more bizarre ideas) somehow managed to choreograph their twisted dance of the macabre with every heart-pounding beat.
The primal scream of "Wait and Bleed" had many in attendance feel what it was like thousands of years ago when we were the hunted and begged for night's eternal darkness to end. It's bleakness blooming into something more communal. A shared release reminding us to live for the moment and discard our chains to the past and hopes and worries for the future. "People = Shit" played it's dark sense of humor beautifully while keeping a path to the edge of the cliff wide open. The exploding "Surfacing" brought the opus for the damned to a thundering close.
Whether you like it or not - there's a little piece of Slipknot residing in a dark corner of us all.
Fear Factory wavered a bit. Not knowing if blast out death-metal is their thing or more harmonious hard rock their forte - the band didn't seem to find a sure footing. Lead singer Burton Bell's death growls wavered between sincerity and parody. While their music is diverse (not getting trapped in the repetition of industrial metal) their spirit was suspect. The short set was engaging, but ultimately short on originality.
Openers Chimaira ably set the tone for the carnage that lay ahead with it's blistering brand of fevered energy. Nu-Metal they are not. The music is subsonic while reaching for a darker synth wave. The boys from Cleveland, Ohio struck a deep nerve. They ripped the doors off of selections from their three releases This Present Darkness, Pass Out Of Existence and The Impossibility Of Reason. They are not following any trends as this sort of metal ultimately has a limited fan base. They reach for bleaker tones while eschewing all semblance of melody. Their cliched headbanging came off as rather juvenile and dated, but if you took a look at the audiences' blurred heads you realized that tradition still has merit.

Slipknot
Slipknot
Chimaira
Chimaira
Slipknot
Slipknot
Lizard Man
Between acts entertainer
Lizard Man has fun regurgitating.

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