Don’t ask me why I decided to go to Ozzfest/Knotfest this year. Normally an annual rite of passage for my husband and our 13-year-old son, I somehow got it in my head that it would be a fun thing for me and my 9-year-old daughter to tag along this year. Perhaps it is all part of my middle-aged crisis that is also attempting to convince me that I am a somewhat relevant rock n’ roll star who is destined for success in my family band (#thecheesebergens), but anyway”¦
I was approaching the festival in what already looked like miserable conditions as hot winds kicked up dust storms all over the San Manuel Amphitheater in San Bernardino, CA. Early thoughts on the parking lot situation: Why do schlubby guys feel like it’s necessary to take off their shirts and stand in the beds of their pickup trucks? And why are there so many more of them taking off their shirts than the ones who actually look good without shirts? But there were plenty of those too”¦shout out to the twin shirtless heavy metal cowboys with man buns (yes, you are reading that correctly!).
If you like your metal with clean vocals and the sort of high-octane guitar riffage associated with the golden age of metal, then L.A. stalwarts Fireball Ministry may just be your cup of tea.
The band was formed in 1999 and is led by ordained minister Jim Rota, who has performed marriage ceremonies for several other metal stars and is currently producing the third album by Huntress. Fireball Ministry has also had a revolving door of the who’s who of metal, including (among others) Stone Sour bassist Johnny Chow, drum legend Yael, Helen Storer from Fluffy, and Janis Tanaka from L7. My wife and I used to see Fireball Ministry playing small clubs all around L.A. back around the turn of the millennium and even then they sounded like they were ready to tear up arenas.
To date, the band has produced five of the highest energy heavy metal albums in recent memory. Here, from their third album, 2003’s The Second Great Awakening, is Fireball Ministry with the turbo-charged anthem “King.”
I was super excited for this lineup, as I am a huge fan of both bands. Arch Enemy is currently on an extensive tour in support of War Eternal, their best album in years, and Kreator is one of my all time favorite bands and always an electrifying live act. Plus, I was taking my 12-year-old son and we always have a blast together at shows.
My excitement was compounded by the fact that I had been offered an opportunity to interview Arch Enemy mastermind Michael Amott before the show.
Long-time fans of Arch Enemy were alarmed when the band’s iconic vocalist Angela Gossow announced this past April that she would be leaving the band. Gossow released a statement saying that she would be staying on as the band’s business managerm but would be “passing the torch to the super talented Alissa White-Gluz, whom I’ve known as a dear friend and a superb vocalist for many years. I always thought she deserved a chance to shine – and now she’s getting it. Just like I got that chance back in 2001.”
White-Gluz had been the singer of Canadian metal band The Agonist for ten years prior where she applied her wide vocal range across a broad spectrum from raw gutturals to beautiful and pristine clean singing. Arch Enemy fans were concerned that the new singer’s presence would mark a shift towards the lighter fare.
Those concerns were eased only days after Gossow’s announcement when the band dropped the video for the bruising title track of their tenth studio album, War Eternal.
Watch the official video for “War Eternal” here below.