“I was at the biggest fucking metal show on earth!” reads the souvenir T-shirts for this year’s one-off edition of Ozzfest, held in Pizza Hit Park, a soccer stadium in suburban Dallas. That statement was definitely an exaggeration size-wise, and more than likely a dubious claim in terms of lineup as well. Still, there were times when it felt like it could transcend those limitations. Chief among them: Metallica’s pyrotechnics-laden performance of “One,” which felt like a big-budget stage production of Apocalypse Now, with its explosive generation-kill buildup.
That was only surpassed by the band’s extended medley of Mercyful Fate songs, fronted by the grease-painted falsetto howling of the group’s own King Diamond, who lives in the area. (“Are you ready for about 12 minutes of Satan?” Lars Ulrich asked the crowd. Spoiler alert: “Fuck” and “yes.”) Metallica finished mixing their new album, Death Magnetic, earlier in the day, so they were loose (and a bit sloppy) during their fan-friendly headlining slot. Though one new song was unveiled (“Cyanide,” which sort of swings in a hammock between The Black Album and St. Anger), the set list stopped in 1991. Hetfield told the crowd the band was gearing up for the album’s release on “September something-or-other” (that’s September 12th), adding, “We’re pretty damn proud of it, and we can’t contain it any longer.”
Ozzy Osbourne’s performance was preceded by a humorous clip reel of the onetime reality-TV star dressed up like Amy Winehouse and Hillary Clinton. Though these days guitarist Zakk Wylde does most of the heavy lifting, and Ozzy’s estimable catalog does the rest, the fest’s namesake broke out “Fire in the Sky” and a strong “Mr. Crowley” before exiting the stage a half-hour after his scheduled end time.
The day’s other highlights included Serj Tankian’s set-ending cover of the Dead Kennedys’ “Holiday in Cambodia”; the powerful all-star tribute to the late “Dimebag” Darrell Abbott; the brave choice by Jonathan Davis and his band to take the stage in near-formal wear in the oppressive afternoon heat and then proceed to play an equally confounding set.