The Six Best Bands of Ozzfest Meets Knotfest 2016

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Black Sabbath

*See an update and correction at the bottom of this post.

Over the weekend, we made our way to San Bernadino to witness the pairing of the two biggest festivals in metal music. Ozzy Osborne and Co. got together last May and held a press conference to announce that Ozzfest would be celebrating it's 20th year anniversary this year by pairing with Knotfest for a two day long blow out with 40 of the of the biggest names in contemporary metal music including Disturbed, Megadeth, Opeth, Slayer, Anthrax, and a cavalcade of some of the best live metal acts today. After waiting on baited breath all Summer, fans finally got what they had been waiting for at the San Manuel Amphitheater.

Hordes of people endured the punishing San Bernadino heat, which reached in the mid-ninties both days of the festival. The true die-hards opted to camp at Glen Helen Regional Park Friday to Sunday, 700 feet from the festival gates, staving off dehydration and sunburns for three days in exchange for walking distance access to the multi stage carnage that ensued inside the venue. The event had several stages to host the myriad of demonic bands, including the 'Lemmy Stage," a tribute to the recently fallen god of rock himself. If you weren't too exhausted from the heat, the site was filled with various attractions to catch in between sets, including fire shows and monster trucks. But like most of the concert goers, we were there for one thing and one thing only: To catch every moment of skull crushing, mosh pitting, over priced water bottle peddling heaviness on those stages. Here were the 6 best performances of the weekend.

6. White Chapel
Supporting their latest album, Mark of the Blade, this deathcore outfit from Tennessee is known for having arguably the heaviest death metal vocalist around, Phil Bozeman. We had a chance to see a somewhat softer side of the singer however, as for the first time the band has released songs with clean melodic vocals, “Decennium” and “Bring Me Home,” showcasing a lighter side to the bands repertoire.

5. Dead Cross
Dead Cross formed out of the ashes of Dave Lombardo's band Philm days before that band was set to tour. The ex-Slayer drummer used booked studio time to start this new project with members of Locust and Head Wound City, and in the fashion of the old punk bands of yesteryear, had shows booked before they had even written a song. Musically, they are a straight forward thrash metal band, leaning on the side of punk. Not dissimilar to DRI or Municipal Waste. The highlight of their set was the frenzy that ensued during their single "We'll Sleep When They're Dead," which was released only 6 short months ago and has already garnered the band plenty of online attention.

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4. Slipknot
You'd be hard pressed to notice from their performance that Corey Taylor is recovering from spinal surgery which he had done in June. On his recovery Taylor remarked, "I'm about 75% right now", though despite the injury and the lack of long time drummer Joey Jordison, their on stage display is still at 100%. The group is still supporting their latest album, .5: The Gray Chapter, the first album not to feature Jordison or bassist Paul Gray, who tragically passed away in 2010. Their two hour set, however, meant that they had enough time for the new stuff as well as the crowd pleasing old stuff like "Disasterpiece" and "People = Shit."  The group performed their seminal album Iowa in its entirety. 

3. The Shrine
More Psychedelic throw back rock 'n' roll than metal, this was still one of the highlight performances of the festival. The Shrine has all the charm that comes with a seasoned unmitigated rock band, stage dives, crowd surfing while shredding ripping guitar solos, the works. This was the last date of their US tour with fellow 'Psych Rockers' Uncle Acid. And if they were hitting it this hard all month, I'm sure the band is looking forward to hibernating for the next couple weeks.

2. Suicide Silence
The world of metal music is still feeling the rift that followed in the wake of the death of Mitch Lucker, who was widely regarded as one of the single most influential deathcore vocalists before his tragic motorcycle incident in Huntington Beach on Halloween of 2012. After taking a year to regroup, the band has since been touring with new singer, Eddie Hermida from All Shall Perish. They have definitely proved that they don't plan on slowing down anytime soon. The highlight moment was the wall of death half way through the set that we stayed as far away from as possible.

1. Black Sabbath
Come on. You all knew this would be the #1 spot. This is Black fucking Sabbath we're talking about. Without these guys none of these other bands would be on this stage now. They did for heavy metal what The Beatles did for rock n roll. And their performance after all these years is still spot on. All original members, save for the replacement drummer. Even Ozzy, despite what one would come to expect from his recent fame, was surprisingly lucid with his trademark terrifying wide eyes framed by pitch black liner. These guys are still the same heavily campy trudging rockers they were in 1969, and their experience has only served them well. The highlight of their set as well as of the entire weekend was the chills that accompanied as Tony Iommi strummed the opening chords to "Paranoid" for the grand encore that everyone waited all day through blistering heat to see. One can only assume seeing these chords played by the maestro himself is becoming a limited edition and a few long hours in the unforgiving sun is a very small price to pay to witness the archetype of all that is heavy play the legendary riff itself. Would we do it again next year? Hell yes.

[Update, 4:30 p.m.: The original article incorrectly stated that Dead Cross performed at this year's Ozzfest Meets Knotfest. They did not. It was also incorrectly stated that Slipknot performed a varied set of old and new songs. The band played their second studio album in its entirety. The Weekly regrets these errors.]

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