Ozzfest UK 2001 May 26, Milton Keynes Bowl, UK By Philip Whitehouse It was a long coach trip. From Walsall to Milton Keynes in just under two hours, with nought but a stiff chair and zero leg-room to provide comfort for the duration. But the result was well worth it. My friends and I arrived at the Bowl in time to cure our hunger with some ridiculously overpirced cheeseburger, regain the feeling in our limbs and then join the queue to be let into the bowl. The gates finally opened at nine o' clock in the morning, and I entered the Bowl for the first time. The sight of a place as mind-bogglingly huge as the Bowl comes as something to a shock to someone whose previous biggest concert had been at the NEC. The sight of the two stages, the main one as big as the entire Wulfrun hall (the place I usually go to for gigs) and the second not much smaller than that, immediately gives preconceptions of the enjoyment to be had. A saunter round the Village Of The Damned and one official Ozzfest cap later, and it was time for the festivities to begin. Our host for the day, DJ Krusher, took the microphone first to outline how today's proceedings would... well... proceed. "We're gonna drink beer, smoke pot, chase pussy, get our dicks sucked and say 'fuck' a fucking lot!" Thanks for that, Krusher. A mere half an hour later, The Union Underground  struck up on the second stage. A decent enough start to the day, their musical style may be utterly generic nu-metal with largely uninspired lyrics, but the band's energy and conviction carried across to the audience, who responded with a decent mosh-pit. The technical ability of the group cannot be faulted, and the full brunt of the band's first single "Turn Me On Mr. Deadman" gave a high point to the band's time on stage, but they lack the songs as yet to fully possess a crows of this magnitude (something like fifty thousand in all). Next, the attention fell on main stage openers and hotly-tipped British heavy music hopes, Corby's bruisers, Raging Speedhorn . Exploding onto the stage and blasting out 'Knives And Faces' from their debut album, the 'Horn immediately send the audience into a frenzy. The sludgy riffs and demonic drumming awoke primal instincts in even the tamest of the crowd, and the resulting slam-pit was evidence of this awakening of the Neanderthal within ourselves. The 'Horn further regaled us with live favourite 'Thumper', 'High Whore' and their latest single, 'The Gush', an uncharacteristically high pitched song compared to most of Speedhorn's bludgeoning bass-heavy pieces. After a couple more new songs, Speedhorn left the main stage having converted a few thousand more to their cause. Back to the second stage, then, with fast-rising cyber-metallers Apartment 26 . These guys are the veterans of two Ozzfest tours already, so they know exactly what they have to do. And by God, do they do it well. The band has a clear advantage in the shape of their charismatic frontman, Biff Butler, a guy with a personality made for filling venues such as the Bowl. Apartment 26 throw a few surprises into the mix by playing a song they wrote when they were just fourteen, as well as a new track that had never been heard before. Biff had the crowd in the palm of his hand, and the songs carried far more force live than they ever did on record. On the main stage, hip-hop/rock crossover act hed(pe)  (full name - hed planet earth) stepped up to take the crowd by storm. MCUD laid on the raps and metal-like screams over DJ Product's top-drawer hip-hop stylings, while the rest of the band supplied the groovy bass, aggressive guitars and pounding drumming that keep hed(pe)'s sound from becoming yet another Limp Bizkit-wannabe style. By the time live favourite 'Bartender' was played, the crowd were exhausted, but MCUD's instruction "When this music gets heavy I wanna see this place jump" inspired everyone to give anaerobic resipration another try. Everyone got a bit of a chance to catch their breath after that, because Zakk Wylde's Black Label Society  were something of a disappointment. Now, I have nothing against old-school metal - hell, one of the main reasons I was at the 'Fest was to catch Black Sabbath - but unfortunately, Ozzy's solo guitarist Wylde and the rest of his Society seem to be... well... redundant. The songs were forgettable in that they all followed the formula of 'riff, chorus, riff, chorus, solo, chorus' but without sufficient intricacies or hooks to keep people listening. Technically they were superb - the solos were excellent. But it all just seemed dull. Sorry guys. After that though, break-time was over. Soulfly  were here to tear the place down. Taking to the stage to the kind of welcome that would normally be reserved for the second coming of Christ, metal messiah Max Cavalera instantly took control of the crowd as Soulfly blasted their way through 'Back To The Primitive'. The pace didn't let up through 'Roots Bloody Roots' and 'Bleed', but the real audience response was saved for the guest spots - Tom Araya from Slayer took vocal duties for 'Terror Rise', while Corey Taylor from Slipknot joined Max for an incendiary rendition of mosh-pit anthem 'Jumpthafuckup'. An incredible set from one of metal's most promising bands. And they don't just promise - they deliver, too. Pure Rubbish  next on the second stage, to bring a Wildhearts / AC/DC style dose of old-style rock 'n' roll to the largely metal audience. The songs were catchy and hook-filled enough to remain entertaining, and the band's energy and conviction shone through all the way through their set. The highlight for me was their excellent cover of AC/DC's "Let There Be Rock" - faithful but with an added dose of youthful vigour to add to the mix. Very cool indeed. The anticipation was high for Papa Roach  to deliver a killer set on the main stage now. Unfortunately, tonight the rap-metal quartet didn't seem to make the grade. Frontman Coby Dick appeared to tire himself out with his on-stage antics a little too early, as evidenced by him being too short of breath to deliver all the lyrics to set-opener 'Infest'. He quickly regained his composure though, if not ever quite catching his second wind. Unfortunately, songs that sound good on record have a tendency to sound just a little too similar live, and while 'Dead Cell', 'Between Angels And Insects' and 'Last Resort' may have been warmly received by the audience, for this reviewer it seemed just a little bit too repetetive. Most of the crowd start moving over to the second stage as soon as Coby and co. leave to try and snag a front-row spot for Tool, which left me and several hundred others free to fight for a space to see Mudvayne . The math-metal quartet started off their set with a highly-charged rendition of first single "Dig", a track which got the crowd bouncing nicely. The band's image fitted their sound perfectly, as well as fitting their personalities. I have heard the guitarist described as being like a 'fat Darth Maul robot', which is a statement whose accuracy I can uphold. The band's style of carefully planned and structured metal with an occasional melodic overtone certainly got the crowd pumped, and the frontman's stage patter seemed warmer and more open than many of the bands so far. Certainly warmer than Tool  anyway. While the band's performance may have been technically faultless - storming initally through "Schism", the first single off the new album "Lateralus", the band seemed sadly aloof. Maynard James Keenan's well publicised fear of having his picture taken marred proceedings as he decided to spend the entire set standing at the back of the stage, facing slightly away from the audience. The rest of the band stood as still as waxworks while playing the songs, meaning the music had to get the crowd pumped on its own. Luckily, tracks like "Stinkfist" and "Prison Sex" are more than able to do this. Madness ensued on the second stage when punk-metal group Amen  began their set. A seemingly increasingly-unstable Casey Chaos went through his usual routine of screaming the lyrics to songs like "Justified", "Refuse Amen", "The Price Of Reality" and "Coma America" while careering around the stage like an especially destructive human tornado. He leapt from monitors, jumped through keyboards, flung mic stands around and generally acted like a psychopathic loon while the rest of the band effortlessly stormed through there songs. The crowd seemed to feed off this energy, and the chaos in the slam-pit almost matched that created by Casey himself. Going back to that word madness would seem an appropriate way to describe the set performed by Iowa's eighteen-legged hate machine, the inimitable Slipknot . Taking to the stage in their traditional boiler suits and masks, the Des Moines massive appeared solid in their intention to make every eardrum in the place explode as they launched into set-opener and new track "People=Shit". More new material aired included "Disaster Piece" and "Heretic Song" as well as more familiar material like "Surfacing", "Spit It Out" and "Wait And Bleed". Slipknot's previous live setbacks of Corey running out of steam during songs and losing vocals appear to be things of the past - the entire band has now been solidly forged into a live inferno of heavy, hate-fuelled songs and a blistering live performance. Time for more recent nu-metal contenders Disturbed  to hit the second stage.With endearing theatrics of David Draiman being wheeled onstage and busting through a sheet as set-opener 'Voices' explodes into life, Disturbed had the audience's attention from the word 'go'. Storming through material from the debut album, Draiman and co. brought the assembled masses a dose of their melodic heaviness tinged with electronica. By the time Tears For Fears cover 'Shout 2000' was aired, Disturbed's place in the higher echelons of the nu-metal pecking order appeared confirmed and well-deserved. Finally, the band most of the crowd had been waiting for (and no, Slipknot weren't about to come on again). Consumnate showmen, practical inventors of the heavy metal genre and still capable of putting on a damned good show almost thirty years on, Black Sabbath  performed the near-unthinkable task of blowing all of the previous bands out of the water with ease. Ozzy's on-stage antics were as tongue in cheek and madcap as ever (especially when a half-deflated rubber sex doll was thrown on stage - I'll leave your imagination to do the rest), while songs like "Fairies Wear Boots", "Iron Man", "Snowblind" and set-closer "Paranoid" were as timelessly captivating as they have ever been. Sabbath as a whole appeared to be enjoying themselves immensely, as did the crowd. Tony Iommi's guitar playing was absolutely stunning, embellishing the songs as he was without missing a beat. The perfect end to the perfect day out. Roll on next Ozzfest.