Want to get more out of Ozzfest than watching Ozzy stumble around on stage? If so, the place to be is the second stage, where you'll find the bands that still play small clubs and sleep in their vans. Most of these bands have the dedication to become huge, but few will ever return to Ozzfest on the main stage. However, Trivium, It Dies Today, Arch Enemy, and As I Lay Dying have enough talent to be contenders.
Trivium is likely the youngest band on the tour (vocalist Matt Heafy is a barely legal 18), but its members have been crafting their '80s thrash (think old Metallica and Pantera) meets metalcore sound since 2000. Heafy's vocals fluctuate between the snarl of traditional heavy metal and more melodic singing. Roadrunner Records scooped up the Orlando, Florida, foursome and released Ascendancy, an album of sheer slayage and screaming, in late 2004.
It Dies Today is only a bit older than Trivium (with members' average age around 20). The band earned its stripes playing the Buffalo, New York, hardcore scene, which influenced its first EP, Forever Scorned, a collection of dark hardcore songs that didn't yet feature the softer vocals that now infuse its sound. Once The Caitiff Choir hit, It Dies Today became known for screeching metalcore guitar riffs, crushing drums, and a vocal mix of low-register screams and almost gentle serenades, creating a ruthless lullaby. The lyrics paint a gruesome picture inspired by Dante Alighieri's Divine Comedy, but still, something about It Dies Today presents a sense of calm.
Nothing about Arch Enemy is serene, though. This band is visceral. Formed by former Carcass guitarist Michael Amott in 1996, Arch Enemy was first touted as an impressive death metal group. Its first disc, Black Earth, is still required listening for fans of Swedish death metal. Amott, with his fascinating guitar sweeps and technical abilities, is the key reason this Euro-group is worth a listen, even though it no longer falls into the death metal category. Thanks to Amott's guitar work and singer Angela Gossow's growling, Arch Enemy is still heavy as hell.
As I Lay Dying is from San Diego, not Europe, but still has a touch of Sweden in its sound. The quintet blends Swedish metal guitars with thundering, triggered drums and rough, cutting vocals from Tim Lambesis (ex-Society's Finest), who's the driving force behind the band. For their most recent effort, Shadows Are Security, Lambesis and his bandmates intentionally wrote songs that would translate well to their live performance, and they definitely succeeded. Expect an explosive show from these guys that'll rival anything on the main stage.
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