Four decades’ worth of heavy metal fandom will converge upon the San Manuel Amphitheater this weekend for Ozzfest Meets Knotfest. Two well-established heavy metal festival brands are merging together for the largest American heavy metal event of 2016, with Saturday’s Ozzfest lineup headlined by one of Black Sabbath’s final performances, and Sunday’s Knotfest headlined by the nine-member costumed chaos of Slipknot.
Each headlining act brings its own fan base, straddling multiple generations. Black Sabbath is, of course, patient zero for the whole genre with their 1970 self-titled debut, while Slipknot introduced their misanthropic, more modern brand of heaviness with their 1999 debut. Even if your tastes skew more towards one headliner than the other, there are still plenty of acts performing throughout the weekend to make it worth raising your fists in the air and head-banging both days.
Top Five Acts to Check Out at Ozzfest Saturday If You Are a Slipknot Fan:
During their early years, Slipknot was grouped within the late ‘90s nu-metal movement alongside fellow acts like L.A.’s own Coal Chamber. After Coal Chamber’s 2003 breakup, front man Dez Fafara went on to form DevilDriver, a band that has spent the years since charting a musical path similar to Slipknot's, evolving from its more primitive beginnings and fine-tuning a more sinister-sounding metallic statement that straddles the line between groove-metal and heavier death metal influences, up through this year’s effort, Trust No One.
A strong aspect of the mystique surrounding Slipknot lies in their edgy and grotesque masked personas. Los Angeles death metal act Brujeria built its own mystique wearing bandanas over their faces and adopting the image of a Satanic drug cult. The group’s all-Spanish lyrics on albums such as their latest, Pocho Aztlan, portray wicked tales of drug-fueled chaos and violence. But even if you don’t speak Spanish, Brujeria’s own brand of masked live metal mayhem will make Slipknot fans feel at home.
3. Municipal Waste
Some of the most violent mosh pits we have seen in the arena setting have been at Slipknot shows. But if you really want to test your mosh pit mettle, these Virginia thrash metal mainstays will bring out those that are the most devoted to moshing, crowd-surfing, stage-diving, and Wall of Death-ing. Municipal Waste’s odes to skateboarding, horror movies, and partying on albums such as 2012’s The Fatal Feast will likely inspire the most continuous nonstop pit movement of the entire weekend.
During the early 2000s’ glory days of the Ozzfest touring festival, there were multiple years that featured both Slipknot and Hatebreed. If you somehow missed Hatebreed during those years, this is one more chance to catch a band that has been one of the most reliable punk/metal crossover acts of the last decade. Front man Jamey Jasta’s stage presence and Hatebreed’s hardcore anthems from albums such as this year’s The Concrete Confessional channel the same disaffected emotions that the best Slipknot songs also tap into.
1. Suicidal Tendencies
For those wondering whether Slipknot can age gracefully or keep up the punishing pace and presence of their live sets, look no further than 1980s Venice hardcore greats Suicidal Tendencies for proof that the power and energy can keep going strong into later years. Now in his 50s, front man Mike Muir is still a walking superball of stage energy, making performances of decades-old anthems such as “Institutionalized” and “War Inside My Head” feel just as vital today as they did when they were first released.
Top Five Acts to Check Out at Knotfest Sunday If You Are a Black Sabbath Fan:
At first glance, the over-the-top symphonic metal of these Swedish powerhouses seems as far removed from Black Sabbath as possible. But much like some of Black Sabbath’s songs were informed by the ghosts of war, Sabaton’s lyrics are centered around the fury, ingenuity and bravery that can occur in a wartime situation. Their latest album The Last Stand continues the band’s run of stellar metal albums inspired by great wars and battles from world history.
As heavy metal evolved in the 1980s, the heavier and faster trappings of the thrash metal genre fit well as a complement to some of the now-older bands such as Black Sabbath. During the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, Overkill sat firmly in the next tier of thrash bands underneath the Big Four (Metallica, Megadeth, Slayer and Anthrax). But the strength of albums such as 1989’s The Years of Decay and a still-strong workhorse ethic on the live stage has kept the band swimming in a devoted following to this day.
If you are a Black Sabbath fan that has appreciated how the genre has evolved over the years, this Florida act has spent the last decade taking its cues from 1980s greats like Metallica and Dio, filtering those influences through a shiny modern gloss that allows albums such as 2015’s Silence in the Snow to sound as contemporary as they do classic. Band leader Matt Heafy has done an excellent job keeping Trivium a well-oiled metallic machine through the last decade’s genre trends.
2. Amon Amarth
During Black Sabbath’s original run with Ozzy, the band’s lyrics centered around war, drugs and the occult, all of which were the most badass inspirations for rock lyrics at that time. Those subjects can be a little played out in metal lyrics now, but Sweden's Amon Amarth finds similar badass inspiration in the epic tales of Vikings and Norse mythology, which propel the melodic death metal anthems albums such as this year’s impressive Jomsviking. Front man Johan Hegg’s barks are more abrasive than what you may be used to from Ozzy, but the songs are still catchy and you’ll still find yourself nodding (or head-banging) along.
Much like Black Sabbath have aged gracefully in recent years, these thrash icons from the next generation have entered the elder statesman phase of their career, ready to continue carrying the metallic torch once Sabbath steps down for good. When Slayer performs live in 2016, frontman Tom Araya still projects forceful screams on classics such as “War Ensemble,” while his banter between songs reminds you of your lovable stoner grandpa, asking if everyone’s having a good time. It’s a reminder that it’s OK to get old, and it’s OK to still love heavy metal as you get old.
Ozzfest Meets Knotfest happens this Saturday, Sept. 24 and Sunday, Sept. 25 at San Manual Amphitheater.