Sunday, October 15, 2006

Metal Madness!!!

To see the rest of the pics from Loud Park, click here.

My ears are still ringing! On Saturday, October 14th, I joined some friends of mine and travelled to Makuhari Messe for the 2006 Loud Park Festival. Basically, the festival is a 2-day onslaught of metal by about 30 of the world's premier metal bands. My dream come true. Although I could only go one of the two days, I still had the time of my life.

The doors opened at about 11am. As we were walking in, we noticed a camera crew interviewing someone. We thought it might be someone from a metal band, so we investigated. It tured out to be Sam Dunn, a true metalhead from Victoria, BC who created the documentary 'Metal: A Headbanger's Journey', likely one of the most important films ever made about hard music, and a must-watch for any nay-sayers of the metal music scene. We yelled "Hey Sam!" and flashed the devil-horns. Without missing a beat he gives us a nod and flashes the horns right back. Good start to the day.

From there we entered the main hall. It was in a huge convention centre that had been divided into 3 main areas: one room which held 2 stages, another room with 1 more stage, and a food/merchandise area. The band that was playing when we walked in was a Canadian band called Anvil. Although the set was a bit lackluster, the lead singer's crazy-eyed antics made it a fun show. Next, Opeth took the stage. I have listened to Opeth for about 1 year, but I didn't realize what a true musical force they actually are. From the second they started up, I was completely enthralled with the show. Their sound is nothing short of epic. The sheer scope of an Opeth show has to be seen to be believed. Although they only played for about 50 minutes (it was a festival after all, short time slots), I can safely say that this was the best musical exhibition I had ever seen. I was fired up.

Other notable bands that we saw during the afternoon included Cathedral, Dir En Grey (Japanese metal), Angra, and another of my favorites Arch Enemy. This female-fronted band is a true force. Lead singer Angela Gossow is one of the most amazing frontmen (frontwomen) I have ever seen. Her stage precense is truly ferocious. The gutteral vocals that she can put forth are indescribable. Also, later in the day we saw two other bands that I have never had the luxury of being able to see: Anthrax, and Napalm Death. Both of those shows were also great.

Another amazing experience was seeing my first Dragonforce concert. They are basically a group of music gods who don`t think of themselves as gods. They play the fastest craziest power-metal, complete with epic lyrics and amazing compositions, but indulge in hilarious stage antics. They routinely do over the top spinning jumps off of amps, monitors, each other, etc, and are always smiling and having a good time. Their main guitarist, Herman Li, is truly the most electifying guitar player I have seen to date. He is just a tiny guy (from Hong Kong originally) but he makes up for it with his speed-of-light riffs and mind melting whammy bar dive-bombs. Definetely high on my list of wildest bands. On top of that, I managed to sneak into the area where the band was signing CDs and T-shirts for fans who were lined up (with tickets they`d received for buying a CD at the show). Of course I had no ticket, but I managed to get right up to the band and shake Herman`s hand and the lead singer`s hand before security got wise to my presence. Check out Dragonforce NOW if you have never heard them.

The last band of the night has been one of my favorites since I was a wee lad: Megadeth. The latest incarnation of the band is still of the highest musical ability, and Dave Mustaine is basically a robot. He has been playing with the same intensity and speed for the last 20 years. It was a great show, and the band played on my favorite songs of theirs, Hangar 18.

I walked out of that hall completely exhausted, but also exhilirated. I would never get a chance to see as many bands of this quality in the same day any place else. And the bands I have described were only the lineup for day 1, there were still 15 more amazing bands to come the following day. Alas, as good as Japan is for snagging great bands, it also takes a toll on the pocketbook, as each day's ticket ran upwards of $130 canadian. Oh well, I came, I saw, I rocked.

\m/ \m/

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