Rock fans “Addicted To Chaos” would’ve wanted to be at Prairieland Park (Saskatoon) on Thursday night, as the fourth edition of GIGANTOUR rolled through the city, & brought along with it a roaring line-up of heavy distinction to 4,000 crazed guests. Lining the doorways well before 3:00 PM, spectators were eager to thrash out with metal kings Megadeth & NWOBHM pioneers Motorhead – who reigned supreme amongst a generous mix of orbiting lights, blasting Marshall amps, & a vintage walk through some of history’s biggest POWER anthems. Danish hybrids Volbeat & Italy’s Lacuna Coil began the proceedings with unanimously impressive sets, stunning many who had only ever heard of their European names, & claiming fresh followers with high-voltage presence & illustrious sonic magnitude. On hiatus since 2008…mainly due to their previous “Rust In Peace” 20th Anniversary Tour & various “BIG FOUR” appearances, plus production on new album “TH1RT3EN” (Roadrunner Records)…Dave Mustaine waited to re-launch the critically-acclaimed festival until Motorhead could be confirmed, & it proved to be a worthwhile musical execution. Gigantour has seen the likes of Dream Theater, Anthrax, Lamb of God, Overkill, Arch Enemy, & In Flames pulsate their stages over the years…along with other prize acts & rising stars that Mustaine personally selects himself.
LACUNA COIL took to a darkened platform in goth-metal mystery & quickly sprinted into one of the most expressively dramatic sets I’ve ever seen! Formed in Milan during 1994, their mid-tempo songs quickly brought them to the forefront with contrasting vocal harmonies between leading female vocalist, Cristina Scabbia (who also happens to be the primary lyricist) & her captivating male side-kick, Andrea Ferro. With only six songs to their nightly contribution – they commanded attention with every riff, turn, beat, jump, & yell…& vocal sublimity that shined above a well-orchestrated six-member unit. Selling nearly two million records over the course of their career, & breaking into North America with “Comalies” in 2002, their high-production sound has headed into heavier realms with current release DARK ADRENALINE.
Scabbia is much more than just a “pretty face” as she bellows strong, semi-operatic high notes & lures her male minions with the gentle sweep of her fingers & gorgeous hazel eyes. With a raging rhythm war between the double Marcos (Biazzi on lead guitar & Coti Zelati on bass), balanced by the fluid work of Cristiano Mozzati on drums…it’s easy to tell why the group regales in a #1 Metal Album on iTunes. They were the first female-fronted band to co-headline Ozzfest, & joined the Gigantour family in 2007. As they Kill The Light, Trip The Darkness, & leave everybody Spellbound…touring will see the Italian spectacle continue to South America, in support of Lamb of God, later this spring.
A Warrior’s Call for Danish rockabilly-metallers VOLBEAT began well before they broke into the aforementioned 2010 hit, from album “Beyond Hell/Above Heaven”. Michael Poulsen (vocals) shredded into a sweltering sweat by the onset of the second song, showing the energetic fusion that emancipates these insane “Guitar Gangsters”. They’ve performed countless festivals like Roskilde, Pinkpop, Prystanek Woodstock, Download, Sonisphere Switzerland, & Heavy TO…culminating a “GOOD meets EVIL” presence – like that of Elvis Presley on speed. A more DRIVEN band I have never seen…consisting of Poulsen (rhythm guitar), Anders Kjolholm (bass), Jon Larsen (drums), & special guest guitarist Hank Shermann (Mercyful Fate). With brilliant light strobes, almost as fast as the musicians play, Poulsen shouted “MAKE SOME NOISE” over the resonating hum of the grinding guitars. The ten-song setlist produced cheers of utter delight – as they raced through hits like Guitar Gangsters & Cadillac Blood, Sad Man’s Tongue, Hallelujah Goat, The Mirror & The Ripper, Pool of Booze-Booze-Booza…finally rounding it off with the intro to Slayer’s “Raining Blood”. With only four albums & one DVD to their name, Volbeat have amassed international credit & platinum standings from their vibrantly relentless stealth & conjuring of various styles. Signed to Mascot Records – they’ve been heavily inspired by widespread legends, from Johnny Cash to Metallica, & pave their own way into an uncharted territory of rock.
They may only be a formation of three, but have unleashed more sonic mayhem than oodles of other bands combined. Formed in 1975, by one Lemmy Kilmister, MOTORHEAD have laid the groundwork for many sub-cultures of metal to be bred from…& you would never know that this group had once won a voter’s poll for “Best WORST Band” in the world. Kilmister got right to the point when addressing the Gigantour crowd in Saskatoon, “If I’ve ever been here before, I surely don’t remember it…but everybody keeps telling me that we’re back in the city with the BIG ‘S’.” Rumbling through openers “Bomber” & “Damage Case”, Motorhead awed spectators as only British rock lords can do…enunciating precision musicianship at breakneck speed. Covering a variety of topics such as war, good versus evil, promiscuity, substance abuse, & gambling…they are the epitome of an adventurous rock‘n’roll antiquity, & it’s dually presented through a TOUGH-AS-NAILS raucous flare.
Diehards quickly began to throw themselves overtop of the barrier, as Lemmy Kilmister growled fervently into the mic & Phil Campbell pelted the frontline with zealous licks. Then Mikkey Dee dazes the audience with an epic four-minute drum solo, at mid-point reaching a tribal-like chant under glowing red lights, before raising his sticks with a “hand-to-ear” gesture to raving howls. From the 1916 hit “The One to Sing the Blues” (which received glorious praise from fans), to “Killed By Death”, “Ace of Spades”, & a hefty beating from “Overkill” – Motorhead entranced those who’ve followed them from a distant era gone by, as well as clutched a new string of youth just waiting to discover their full-front musical arrogance.
With over 30 MILLION ALBUMS sold worldwide, & thirteen studio releases on the trophy mantel, MEGADETH needs little introduction. They’ve harnessed true metalhead power with an amplitude of aggressive composition & blistering tempos, often paired with critical lyrics of a defunct political world. Dave Mustaine may not headbang like he used to, due to a neck injury only four months back, but his killer dexterity on a glossy custom-painted guitar is truly sublime. From the black-curtain drop of “Trust” into one of their most notorious hits “Hangar 18” – Mustaine & the reunionized group, with mega-bassist Dave Ellefson, attacked the crowd at every angle…from what seemed to be a genial, subdued start. By the third song in, Megadeth had unleashed its GARGANTUAN FURY – massively rapid pedalling from Canadian-born drummer Shawn Drover to meteoric lead guitar trade-offs with Chris Broderick. As young bodies hurdled the railing, & then ran around back for more…cries, cheers, & salutes could’ve easily raised the roof on the 50,000 square foot space.
Megadeth has an onstage sincerity that stretches well beyond many other metal acts. Broderick gets the fists pounding while genuinely enjoying his contribution to the show, while Ellefson tends to be facial responsive & summons the crowd to sing. A focused Mustaine occasionally stops to give a “Horns Up” & humble bow to the crowd, while Drover calmly surveillances the scene amidst his clashing cymbals. Halfway through, Cristina Scabbia made a passionate reappearance during “A Tout le Monde” – a version which was recorded with Dave Mustaine on the 2007 album, “United Abominations”. With a face-to-face second verse & cordial spotlight shared, the duet’s impact was felt even at the back of the room…before male dominance overtook the stage once again, & Megadeth blasted off into new material from current release – TH1RT3EN. “Public Enemy No. 1” was exponentially tight, along with “Whose Life (Is It Anyways?)” & “Guns, Drugs, & Money”…showing where the band has been focusing much of their recent attention. As fans thrashed, moshed, & bounced to an over seventy-minute set…Mustaine generously thanked the crowd before steering into a thunderous Symphony of Destruction, Peace Sells, & Holy Wars…adorned by a special walk-on appearance of “Rattlehead” himself.
Backed by popular attendance, GIGANTOUR has the potential to become one of the world’s top-selling festivals…if Mustaine can keep it on the road long enough throughout Megadeth’s very intense schedule. This year’s line-up was truly resounding…from the Danish rumble of Volbeat to the legendary grandeur of Motorhead, the mass-mixed audience got a sonic history lesson amongst an aura of colorful LED display. Perhaps too guitar-driven on the sound scale (at times, vocals were barely audible) – 2012’s Gigantour was aptly built for those metalheads who love it LARGE, LOUD, & LINGERING!!! Judas Priest may have coined the phrase “Some Heads Are Gonna Roll” – but it takes an anomaly like MEGADETH to really make ‘em rattle.
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\m/ LACUNA COIL