System dazzles Ozz

System dazzles Ozz

Toronto Star, Ontario
June 26 2006

It’s hard to believe that when Ozzfest first stormed onto the summer
touring circuit 11 years ago it was perceived as a something of a
last bastion for heavy-metal diehards.

The travelling festival – conceived by iconic hellspawn-turned-TV-dad
Ozzy Osbourne, and his business-minded wife Sharon – may have
originally marked a circling of the wagons by the metal faithful
against the dominance of the original Lollapalooza and Lilith Fair,
but it’s now one of the standards for packaged tours.

Ozzfest has only made it to Toronto once before, when Ozzy and the
reunited Black Sabbath headlined a 13-hour endurance test on the
pavement outside the Docks in 2001. And its return to Toronto at
the Molson Amphitheatre last night counted as a bit of a gamble in
a summer crowded with metal tours.

Ozzfest 2006 nevertheless lured around 14,000 souls to the Amphitheatre
last night, despite the rather disappointing absence of Osbourne (he’s
been playing the second stage on some U.S. dates but took a miss on
this one) and a lineup cut from nearly 20 acts to nine. There’s no
disputing the greatness of headliners System of a Down, but the rest
of the Toronto bill – which included fearsome hardcore unit Hatebreed,
dodgy nu-metal scowlers Disturbed, intriguing Italian unit Lacuna Coil
and the Sunset Strip-meets-Helloween stylings of Avenged Sevenfold –
didn’t present a hugely convincing reason to take the afternoon off
and head down to the lakeshore.

Luckily, System justified its placement at the top of the heap with
a smashing sequel to its last Toronto date in September.

System of a Down’s precision pummelling was fascinatingly unique,
blending galloping thrash, operatic Armenian folk, twisted ska and
synth-powered post-punk savagery in a frantic, no-fat set. The set
list had both of last year’s superb discs Mesmerize and Hypnotize to
draw from, so new(ish) numbers like the monstrous "Attack" and the
arcane power ballad "Lonely Day" were mixed seamlessly with such
crowd favourites as "Violent Pornography" and "Chop Suey!" – the
latter defying its cripplingly complex structure to become perhaps
the summer’s strangest mass singalong.

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