The Black Dahlia Murder:
ZS: Needless to say, The Black Dahlia Murder killed it during their set on the Damage Inc. stage. They are a band that always brings their A game live, and their Orion performance likely won over many new fans. One of the highlights, though, was seeing middle aged man (maybe in his 50s?) crowd surfing during BDM.
BT: The one-two punch of The Black Dahlia Murder and Sepultura on the Damage Inc. stage might have been the most “metal” consecutive performances of the day. As a result, BDM played in front of likely one of the biggest crowds they’d played in front of. James hung out and watched for a song or two.
ZS: Before I go on to discuss Volbeat, let me just state how at this point in the day, I remembered why I loved music festivals like this. While I didn’t get to see entire sets, starting at 5pm I got to see some of Volbeat, then a nice chunk of The Black Dahlia Murder, then Charred Walls Of The Damned, Sepultura, THEN most of Avenged Sevenfold, and to cap it all off, a show from Metallica. The fact that I got to see all of those bands in such a short time span is incredible and the beauty of music festivals in general. And since the stages weren’t that far from each other, it was easier to catch more of each set, or see more from a distance.
And as for Volbeat’s set…..what more can I say than awesome?! Like Ghost, Volbeat are simply a really fun band to see live. And considering how large of a crowd they attracted to the Fuel stage, it’s safe to say that America is finally warming up to the Danish rockabilly metal group.
BT: I’m not a huge Volbeat fan, but can totally understand why they’re as popular as they are. And it’s undeniable that they’re a good live band. It’s been rewarding to see them grow in popularity over the last several years, and until Avenged Sevenfold an hour later, this was by far the biggest crowd at the Fuel stage.
Charred Walls of the Damned:
KM: Richard Christy is one of my favorite drummers ever, and Ripper is a perennial badass. Great set, though the time it lost to Jim Breuer (one of the few over-time sets of Orion) didn’t seem fair with Sepultura taking the stage across the field.
ZS: Having been a huge fan of their first two albums, I made an enormous effort to see Charred Walls Of The Damned’s set. And seeing how awesome they were made me realize how sad it is that they don’t perform/tour more often. But hey, both Richard Christy and Tim “Ripper” Owens are busy guys. I’m just glad I had the chance to see them at Orion. The only downside was that the crowd started to thin out since Jim Breuer’s set went a little long, thus forcing CWOTD to overlap with Sepultura.
BT: Because of their other jobs, the band don’t get to play together all that often, which is a shame. They brought their A game, and whether it was Ripper’s heritage or Howard Stern fans turning out for Richard Christy, they played in front of a full stage.
BT: Sepultura have gotten shafted since the Cavalera brothers left the band. This set proved that it didn’t matter. Derrick Green was spot on, Andreas Kisser and Paulo Jr., are rock solid, and hearing 20 year-old songs like “Refuse/Resist” and “Dead Embryonic Cells” hold their own as well as “Enter Sandman” did was just awesome. The huge crowd seemed to think so as well.
ZS: Getting to see Sepultura live again is a treat in and of itself, but seeing the enormous crowd that came to see them destroy the Damage Inc. stage was especially awesome. They often get shit for continuing on without the Cavalera brothers, but hopefully their Orion appearance was enough to prove to attendees that Sepultura with Derrick Greene is awesome.
The highlight of the set, though, was seeing two dads with their sons (probably no older than 6 years old) on their shoulders walking through and dancing with the crowd during Sepultura. And that brings me to another thing I noticed during this past weekend: the age range. There were as many teenagers as there were parents with their young kids. And while certain age groups likely came for specific bands, I’d argue that everyone left Atlantic City discovering a new group. While walking over to see Sepultura, I noticed The Black Dahlia Murder’s Trevor Strnad and Max Lavelle posing with a youngster wearing a Metallica shirt (probably 8 years old). I’d bet that young kid didn’t know about BDM till that day, and now he’ll likely be a longtime fan of theirs. It was astonishing enough to see such different age groups together at one festival, but seeing such musical discovery in front of me was pretty special.
BT: The Eric Church band walked out to Clutch’s “Electric Worry,” closed with the opening riff of Black Sabbath’s “Sweet Leaf,” and in between sang songs about Jack Daniels and smoking weed. In short, for a band most metal fans (including this one) have never heard of, they knew exactly how to pander to the crowd, and likely picked up some fans in the interim. I’ll say this, however. Of all the 35 acts playing, I only had to sign a waiver about photography for one. Guess who it was?
BT: It seemed like the indie rockers were out in force to support fellow their fellow New Jerseyans. The Frantic tent was packed out with a large audience that was appreciative of the band’s intentionally sloppy, lo-fi indie rock.
KM: Waking the Fallen is an incredible record. It holds a special place with me as one of my gateways into heavy music, alongside Refused’s The Shape of Punk to Come, Metallica’s Kill ‘Em All and Anthrax’s Return of the Killer A’s best-of. Lofty company I know, but this thing WAS my senior year of high school. But times have changed, and Avenged Sevenfold lost me a long time ago. City of Evil was OK despite losing M. Shadows’ unique rasp to vocal nodules, but the self-titled felt like overly-commercial, watered-down crap. Turns out they played a huge chunk of that album, and frankly, I wasn’t sticking around for the rendition of “Unholy Confessions” I could’ve moshed my brain out to earlier in the set. The sound problems didn’t help.
ZS: Anyone who knows me, has met me, or has even read anything I’ve written knows that I am a massive A7X fan. So naturally I was excited to see them on the bill. However, while I though they still gave it their all, A7X fell victim to the sound issues I discussed in my day 1 comments. Unfortunately, though, the technical problems were hard to ignore. Even a frustrated Zacky Vengeance, who smashed his guitar and microphone stand mid-way through a song, noticed the poor sound issue. Still, A7X gave it their all, and they gave Metallica a run for their money in most impressive pyro.
BT: Like Kodi, I really liked this band at one time. The more popular they’ve gotten, the less interesting I’ve found them. However, it seemed like the audience felt the opposite way. The huge crowd spilled over to the Orion stage area, and judging by the amount of shirts and
Overkill Avenged Sevenfold logo tattoos I saw, a lot of people turned out to see them. And as Chris Steffen’s excellent Rolling Stone recap pointed out, A7X have a lot in common with Metallica.