The Fiery Gates of Ozzfest and Ozzy Osbourne Reign Supreme

Photo by: Stephanie Cabral

By Brandon “B-Mac” McCarthy, Photos by Matt “Rabit” Martinez Red Hare Images

So far, in the year 2017, Matt and I have a wide variety of concerts and performances, that we have been fortunate to cover. From attending numerous shows at the Observatory, to covering the first ever Loudwire Music Awards, and being guests for Jose Mangin’s album release parties at the Affliction Warehouse in Seal Beach. I said it before, and I will say it again, 2017 has been extremely good for us. We also got to cover two huge festivals, Blackest of the Black and Cal Jam 2017. I enjoyed every one of these events, but there is one that we both consider to be the crème de la creme. That show happens to be the Ozzfest Meets Knotfest Festival weekend. Some of the best of the best artists in hard rock, heavy metal, and punk rock, have come to the hallowed grounds of the Glenn Helen Amphitheater in San Bernardino, Calif. First stop, Ozzfest. What better place to witness the man who started it all, the Godfather of Heavy Metal, Ozzy Osbourne!

On the festival grounds, there were three stages, prepared to invoke musical chaos, in a positive way of course. There were the two stages side-by-side, and there is the Nuclear Blast stage, presented by Nuclear Blast Records. It was the smallest stage out of all the stages, but metalheads packed in, to check out the most extreme of the extremist line-up. From my boys in Rings of Saturn, to the devilish trash band Possessed, and the technical death metal outfits Suffocation and Fallujah. These four intense groups sufficed the fans’ lust for heavy metal wreckage. Bodies were banging into each other with enthusiasm in pure metal mayhem style.

Full Rings of Saturn slideshow below:

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Full Suffocation slideshow below:

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Full Possessed slideshow below:

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On the festival stages A & B, Ozzfest presented its loyal followers an assortment of metal acts that range from the Satanic black metal style, to trash metal, avant-garde sludge metal, hard rock, progressive metal, and so much more. Fans kept moving back and forth to see their favorite acts like Night Demon, Tombs, Kyng, Baroness, High on Fire, Havok, Iron Regan, and Kreator. Dusts bowls were kicking up a storm on the festival grounds, thanks to the many mosh pits created by the eager metalheads. Every band on the festival stages did the best job of ripping it up with fierce riffs, booming bass licks, screeching and roaring singing, and thunderous drumming. It was so cool seeing different styles come together and melt everybody’s faces off with their music. Now it was off to the main stage!

Full Tombs slideshow below:

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Full Havok slideshow below:

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Full Iron Reagan slideshow below:

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Full Baroness slideshow below:

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Full Night Demon slideshow below:

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Full Kyng slideshow below:

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Full High on Fire slideshow below:

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Full Kreator slideshow below:

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Orange Goblin, was the first to hit the main stage. The stoner metal outfit from London, led by frontman Ben Ward, wasted no time in getting the evening’s festivities started. I did not get to see them due to interviewing artists, but I was able to hear their infectious rock ‘n’ roll from the media tent. Next time they head for Southern California, I will be there to lend them not only my ears, but my eyes as well.

Full Orange Goblin slideshow below:

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Children of Bodom, were the next group to grace the Ozzfest maniacs. It was my first time seeing them live, but I was anticipating greatness, as I have heard really exciting things about them. Finland’s metal heroes seized the evening, with their pulsating melodic death metal, combined with power metal and thrash metal. Led by vocalist/lead guitarist Alexi “Wildchild” Laiho, he let out his demonic scream, while his fingers tap danced rapidly on the axe. Wildchild is one of the most astounding guitarists I have ever witnessed. I was also amazed by the synthesizing work by keyboardist Janne Wirman. They performed their classics like “Downfall,” “Hate Me!,” and “Towards Dead End.” The best they played, to me, was “Warheart.” The swift drumming by Jaska Raatikainen, combined with Wildchild’s crazy solos made the song devilishly sweet. Children of Bodom lived up to their name and reputation, as Finland’s finest metal act.

Full Children of Bodom slideshow below:

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Up next was a band that has always taken alternative metal to the extreme. I am talking about Sacramento’s own Deftones. Having been a huge fan of the latest LP, Gore, I was super excited to finally see the band, that can make experimental metal sound tantalizing. Right off the bat, frontman Chino Moreno showed Ozzfest the charismatic side to him, that has made him a household name in the metal community. I was taken away by his adrenaline soaked stage presence, along with his tremendous vocal range. Guitarist Stephen Carpenter, throws in these eclectic riffs that give each song its own unique flavor. Deftones primarily played their more well-known tunes from the iconic albums, White Pony and Around the Fur. From “Digital Bath” to “Be Quiet and Drive (Far Away),” “Elite,” “Swerve City,” and “Knife Party,” the fans took it all in. After many years together, the Deftones have shown Ozzfest why they still matter.

Full Deftones slideshow below:

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It was time to bring the noise, for Prophets of Rage took to the stage. This insane supergroup, with members from Rage Against the Machine, Public Enemy, and Cypress Hill, bellowed their political rap metal to the Ozzfest crowd. They brought tremendous energy to their set, playing not only their own original material like “Unfuck the World” and “Hail To the Chief,” but also stuff from their respectable groups. Guitar legend, Tom Morello was wicked, when letting his guitar screech and holler to the fans. After playing “Bullet in the Head,” members of RATM stepped off and let the MCs Chuck D (Public Enemy frontman) and B-Real (Cypress Hill MC) trade off rap flows with DJ Lord. From “Bring the Noise” to “Insane in the Membrane,” they were busting rhymes that got the fans stir crazy.

The members of RATM (Morello, drummer Brad Wilkes, bassist Tim Commerford) soon paid tribute to their Audioslave comrade Chris Cornell, who died earlier this year, with an instrumental version of “Like a Stone,” in which the fans sang the lyrics. It was a fitting farewell to a great vocalist. Their performance was jammed packed with energetic songs, including the classic RATM song, “Killing in the Name.” Though I am not a fan of their left wing political views, I cannot deny that they definitely get their message across. Prophets have certainly brought the Rage.

Full Prophets of Rage slideshow below:

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Photo by: Stephanie Cabral

After a long day, it was time to witness the righteousness that is the Prince of Darkness, Ozzy Osbourne!!! Right away, I was hypnotized by the harmonic vocals he displayed on stage. What made the set more special, was seeing the return of his right-hand man, guitar madhouse, Zakk Wylde. Both Ozzy and Wilde are one of the best singer/guitar combinations in metal music, kicking things off with the insane “Bark at the Moon.” I was howling at the moon, as the song was going. Performing a mixture of his solo material with his iconic Black Sabbath catalog, Ozzy reeled in the fans’ hearts with “Shot in the Dark,” “Fairies Wear Boots,” and “No More Tears” to name a few. Toward the end of “War Pigs,” he steps aside and lets his band showcase their talent. Keyboardist/guitarist Adam Wakeman ripped it up big time with his riffs, while Wylde walked among his people, tearing their ears off with his insane playing. He even pulled a Jimi Hendrix, by playing both behind his back and with his teeth; best thing I have ever seen. Drummer Tommy Clufetos banged out one crazy-ass solo that was so powerful, one could feel it resonate long after. When Ozzy went into “Crazy Train,” I lost my mind.

Full Ozzy Osbourne slideshow below:

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Homemade bon fires, dust storms, and drunken love filled the air at Ozzfest. Ozzy continues to amaze me with his stage persona. Deftones and Prophets were the highlights of the night for me, as well as Ozzy of course. Every group I saw, filled up my heavy metal gas tank; ready to burn it off for Knotfest. Matt and I drove home with smiles on our faces, knowing that it was not over yet for us. To Ozzfest, I salute you. Horns up!!!

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