Zombie Eating Horse who won the Battle of the Bands to join the fest and Ded who are returning for their second year both rocked their early 11:15 set. Stitched Up Heart who released their 2016 album Never Alone was the priority of the set. Fans really took to the unique vocals and instrumental aspects this group had to offer. Warbringer had no problem opening the circle pit on the Nuclear Blast stage during the gloomy weather of Knotfest as they played Remain Violent, Shellfire, and Living Weapon among a few others. This band brought the speed, the solos, the riffs, and of course the heavy vocals to completely decimate their set. Oni had some pretty big shoes to fill as last year they were joined on stage by metals on Randy Blythe who does vocals in his own band Lamb of God. Oni didn’t look like they felt the pressure at all as they burned through Barn Burner, Spawn and Feed, as well as The Only Cure. The group recently released their new album Iron Shore which is a solid metal album so be sure to check that out as well!
Code Orange/Exhumed went up against each other on time slots. Both groups at their respective stages gained quite the crowd. Code Orange brings a rare aspect to the table by having their drummer Jami Morgan playing drums while laying down some thick metallic vocals for the audience. My World, Bleeding in the Blur, and I Am King were all popular among the audience. As for Exhumed who played Coins Upon the Eyes, Night Work, Limb From Limb, Defenders of the Grave tore the audience apart limb for limb (all pun intended). As if this fast death metal band didn’t already have enough to offer they also brought a person wielding a chainsaw and wearing a bloody apron on stage for just a brief moment. Possibly in reference to their first album Gore Metal in which the album cover features a bloodied kitchen with a chainsaw and organs.
Death Angel was formed back in 1982 and with a few breaks in between years the band has not stopped on their wave on spreading thrash metal. Knotfest was no different as lead singer Mark Oseguda along with bandmates Rob Cavestany, Ted Aguilar, Will Carroll, and Damien Sisson had fans of all ages headbanging and running the pit wild. The group mixed up their set pretty well playing a couple songs off their newest album The Evil Divide, as well as older albums such as Medley, Relentless Retribution, The Dream Calls For Blood and The Ultra-Violence. If you have not seen Death Angel live yet you need to pick up your tickets as soon as possible. This band cannot be contained nor held back as their full potential is reached at every show. Especially Oseguda’s vocals that are unrivaled in this industry and more so in the scene. Repulsion and Goatwhore were both fascinating to catch live. Repulsion was probably the heaviest band I saw the entire weekend. Playing hits such as Radiation Sickness, Maggots in Your Coffin and Decomposed this band was really something else. Lead vocalist and bassist Scott Carlson has such a unique sound when it comes to this grindcore band that it had the audience on their toes for the entire set.
Sid Wilson who plays in the supergroup Slipknot was given his own time slot to play a DJ set under the name (DJ Starscream). Surprisingly there wasn’t too much of a crowd to see Mr. Wilson, but for the fans that were there, we knew they were the die-hard Slipknot fans. The audience and I watched Sid make tracks from nothing and really build off of them on the stage at Knotfest. Sid also rapped on a few tracks as well which was unique compared to what we’re used to seeing from #0 in Slipknot. Upon A Burning Body had no problem bringing the party to Knotfest as they had Sirius XM radio star Jose Mangin rocking on the song Til The Break of Dawn and had the entire audience clapping during Already Broken. On Texas Blood Money lead singer Danny Leal asked for the audience to crowd surf forward so that he could high five each and every one of them. Needless to say, security had their hands busy until the end of the group’s song which closed out their set.
Black Dahlia Murder is a fine wine as they always get better with age. Splitting up most of their set between their new album Nightbringers and Nocturnal the band brought everything they had to the table and the crowd ate up every second of it. The band kicked off their set with Widowmaker and what better way to end it than with I Will Return. The audience looks forward to catching their return that’s for sure! Although Prayers doesn’t fit the metal mold they had no problems drawing in a crowd. Coming out with their new album Baptism of Thieves which features popular songs such as Black Leather and Edge Of The Blade is sure to astound you. The duo always puts on an interesting set and always has a strong setlist to back them up. For Knotfest we heard Edge Of The Blade, Black Leather, and Ready To Bleed to name a few. Life of Agony who are fresh off the release of A Place Where There’s No More Pain (2017 album) hit Knotfest with two right hooks and a smile. Opening with River Runs Red, the group played a ten song set which also had Bad Seed, Weeds, Lost at 22 as well a few others.
Bay area thrash metal legends Testament hit the stage in the near dark. With no stage lights and a gloomy sky around the evening we could hear Testament, but couldn’t see them as clearly. Nonetheless, the band made sure to close out the smaller stage with a bang when they opened their set with Brotherhood of the Snake from their 2016 album release. The group followed up with Rise Up, The Pale King, and Centuries of Suffering. Overall the band played ten songs and had a guitar solo in the middle of the set. Nobody had a bigger smile on their face than lead singer Chuck Billy who was passing out what looked to be jello shots and t-shirts that were tossed across the audience. A couple songs in one of the stagehands brought out a very small light that was only big enough for one person to be seen at a time, but it was useful. Alex Skolnic seemed to be enjoying himself as well as he swung his guitar just about every which way you can swing a guitar on top of laying down riffs and a solo that was indisputably well done as told by the audiences cheer. Shortly after Testament had to turn down the fun as they ended their set with Over the Wall and Disciples of Watch to open up for the mainstage acts.
Eighteen Visions made their impactful return this year after what felt like a lifetime hiatus (10 years). The group emerged on the stage at Knotfest amongst smoke from fog machines and solid purple and blue lighting. The band blew the audience away with Vanity, Oath, and Tower of Snakes as well as a few others before making way for Slipknot’s own Corey Taylor and his project Stone Sour. Stoner Sour opened with Taipei Person/Allah Tea which had Taylor breaking his neck on stage just to be able to spin his head 360 degrees for a complete headbang. Next came Made of Scars from the 2006 album Come What(ever) May before hitting a classic of Say You’ll Haunt Me with a twist on the song. The group played nine songs in total but played every song with heart and passion and the audience couldn’t ask for any more than that.
Shock rocker Marilyn Manson made headlines during his set at Knotfest as per usual. Opening with Revelation #12 Manson was standing on an electric gurney as he broke his ankle a few months back when a stage prop crushed him. Before leading into the classic Disposable Teens Manson said: “Los Angeles, I’m broken but you can’t break me.” Next came another classic mOBSCENE where Manson stood without assistance or any issues. The rest of the set was filled with classics and some newer material such as Deep Six. The headlines poured in during the song We Know Where You Fucking Live when Manson brandished a half mic half gun and pointed it at the crowd as if to shoot them. Manson defended himself shortly after saying “My art has always been a reaction to popular culture and my way to make people think about the horrible things that happen in this world. My performance was not meant to be disrespectful or show any insensitivity. The prop microphone I used on stage was handed to me with the approval of a police officer. My empathy goes out to anyone who has been affected by the irresponsible and reprehensible misuse of REAL guns.” Overall Manson did a decent job, but his vocals could be better. Maybe with the time off, we will see some improvement from the music star.
Rob Zombie was by far one of the best acts I have seen in quite some time. Kicking off the set with Dead City Radio and The New Gods of Supertown Zombie stood on top of a large boom box and headbanged and sung his way through while John 5 brandished his LED guitar and had some led lights in his mouth which he later threw into the audience. Piggy D. wore his usual facemask while a fire was arising from all sides of the stage. Following up with Superbeast the party continued all night long. Zombie was the life of the party as he had no shortage of jokes during his set. Before playing Living Dead Girl he asked that the women be raised up on the shoulders and as security asked for them to be put down Zombie told the security to shut up because the tickets had his name on it and not theirs. Before playing Well, Everybody’s Fucking In A UFO Zombie asked for some blowup sex doll aliens (which were grabbed from backstage) to be crowd surfed to the ferris wheel which was in the far back of the lawn in the stadium. At first, Zombie had a chant of “GO E.T., GO E.T., GO E.T. GO” going, but then mentioned that he didn’t want to wait all night so he continued on with the set. As I was sitting on the lawn I can confirm that the aliens did indeed make it to the ferris wheel. The last two songs were great classics one covering Alice Cooper’s Schools Out and the encore song being Dragula which had the fans going nuts.
Overall in terms of musical performances, and audience, I felt Knotfest did a much better job then Ozzfest but that both days of the festivals put up a good fight. Although we were missing quite a few attractions than in previous years it still was a fun-filled day with multiple food trucks, multiple stages, meet and greets as well as BEER. We look forward to what will come next for Knotfest and hope to see you all in 2018.
Thank you, Ozz/Knot Fest.