When Ozzfest first came out with their lineup and tour dates, I immediately checked out who would be coming to Cincinnati for their annual off-date show. To my surprise, one of the best off-date lineups ever was coming to my hometown: It Dies Today, The Black Dahlia Murder, The Haunted, Arch Enemy, In Flames, and Shadows Fall. Why go to Ozzfest and spend at least $100 plus a drive to Columbus when all the bands I want to see are coming here? To add to the suspense, I found this out back in April, I had a while to wait but I marked my calendar.
Finally the night of the show was upon us. We arrive to Bogart's around 6:15, right when the doors open, I couldn't miss any of this show. Apparently, something happened with It Dies Today and they weren't able to make it. Which actually pissed me off a little bit because I really enjoyed "The Caitiff Choir" and had never seen them live before. But oh well, such is life I guess. Instead, The Black Dahlia Murder was the first to take the stage. First thing that I noticed which made me almost throw up was the fact that Trevor Strnad (lead vocalist) was wearing a Modest Mouse t-shirt. Pardon me? Yeah exactly, how could a band as hard as TBDM support such slop? Whatever. Anyway, they played about 4 songs off of "Miasma" as well as "Funeral Thrist" and "Elder Misanthropia", overall an excellent set. Really impressed with the guitarists, excellent precision, especially on transitions.
Next up was The Haunted. Now, I was really excited to see this band because of how much I enjoy the Gothenberg sound and how much I enjoyed "rEVOLEr". The guys come out with their relentless thrashing as I would expect, but something just wasn't right. Something's up with Peter Dolving, he's tripping all over himself, dropping the microphone, and screaming like he still has it after dropping it. Hmmmmmmmmm... Well, the first couple of songs were a little shaky to say the least, but once they were done with a couple of songs off of "One Wonder Kill", Dolving states the obvious, "Last night I took like 3-4 little blue pills and I've been wide awake ever since", as if it needed an explanation. I think he calmed down once he told everyone that he was messed up because the rest of the show was awesome. I really enjoyed "No Compromise" and "All Against All".
OK, now that the openers were out of the way, it was time to get to some real heavy metal. Arch Enemy had to deliver right? It just wouldn't be right if these guys disappointed. In three words: What a show! It was an all-around Arch Enemy concert. They played a few off "Wages of Sin", a couple off "Anthems of Rebellion", and a couple off of "Doomsday Machine". I really enjoyed (well first off looking at Angela but isn't that a given- I know such a chauvinist comment, but I'm sorry she's hot) "Dead Eyes See No Future", "Nemesis", "My Apocalypse", "Ravenous", and "Dead Bury Their Dead". They couldn't even get to "We Will Rise" though because of time restraints which would have been really cool to see live. Arch Enemy jumped many spots on my list after this performance. Angela can belt out the vocals, the Amott brothers are flat out amazing on the guitars, Erlandsson is brutal in his drumming onslaught, and D'Angelo spits forth excellent basslines. Arch Enemy incorporates everything that a band should be in concert, a definite must-see for all metalheads.
And now for the veterans, In Flames. Now I've only seen In Flames one other time and it was like five years ago or so. It has been way too long. And these guys didn't disappoint either. Opening with "Cloud Connected", proceeding throughout their entire album catalog. Even though they focused mostly on their newest release "Soundtrack To Your Escape", they played "Bulletride" and one song off "Jester's Race". The one thing that did disappoint me was no "Episode 666", "Whoracle", or personally my favorite off of "Soundtrack To Your Escape": "Dead Alone". Nevertheless, "My Sweet Shadow", "Dawn of a New Day", "Touch of Red", and "The Quiet Place" were all outstanding. Highly recommended to check out live if you haven't either ever or in a while. One last note: Anders really knows how to get a crowd going. There was more moshing and crowd surfing during them than Shadows Fall. Apparently the In Flames Legion is alive and well in Cincinnati.
Finally was Shadows Fall. Now I like Shadows Fall. I liked them after "Art of Balance" came out and thoroughly enjoyed "The War Within" probably more than "Art of Balance" honestly. But in our beloved genre (and even outside of our circle as I've recently found), Shadows Fall has reached cult status. I meet people and they find out that I'm into metal and "Oh my God, I love Shadows Fall". I mean seriously, people who know nothing about metal love Shadows Fall, it almost gives them validity or something. It's almost sick, I don't pretend to like Dave Matthews Band or My Chemical Romance to fit in with a crowd but apparently Shadows Fall is every non-metal kid's safety net. It's almost sad. But anyway, I enjoy the band and I've seen interviews with them and they seem like genuinely cool guys, so why not stick around for Shadows Fall? So we pushed are way to the front, because if I was gonna enjoy these guys I needed to verify that these guys were for real. And man were they. I was so (I'd add extra o's if it didn't look retarded) impressed with Jonathan Donias. One of the most incredible guitarists I've ever seen live. Relentless shredding, incredible solos, and flawless transitions and breakdowns stuck out in my mind more than anything about this band. Other than that these guys were just fun. They played a great set with "Thoughts Without Words", "Destroyer of Senses", "Stepping Outside the Circle", "Act of Contrition", "Eternity is Within", "Inspiration on Demand", and closing with "What Drives the Weak". After their set was over, the guys had all left the stage except for Brian Fair and the crowd went nuts chanting "Shadows Fall, Shadows Fall...". Brian picks up the mic and says "You guys want one more?". He calls all the guys back out to do "The Idiot Box". I was so impressed with them live that I think they might be top two or three metalcore bands I've ever seen live defintely jumping Atreyu and Killswitch Engage, and at least running neck and neck with Unearth and Chimaira.
I had a great time at this tour, if you guys get a chance to check out either Ozzfest or the off-date shows I would definitely recommend it. I enjoyed Ozzfest when I went the past couple of years but there is something about an indoor venue filled with absolute metalheads going crazy, and I know the bands felt the same way. Arch Enemy stole this show, but In Flames and Shadows Fall were a close two and three. All three were unbelievable and I can't wait to see all of them again. Next up, Friday the 12th of August with Chimaira, All That Remains, and 6FU. Apparently Cincinnati can pull in some decent metal shows. I'll have the full review for you all on that one too. 'Til then rock on.