The Warped Tour sucked this year, and Ozzfest is skipping the Midwest, even though the people here bleed metal like melting androids. Valiantly, the Sounds of the Underground tour cherry-picks the best of these negligent annual bonanzas, merging groups from the heavier side of the punk spectrum with speed-soloing hellspawn. Opeth -- which leads the bill in total hair length -- tempers its savage shredding with eerily eye-of-the-storm instrumental passages and occasional forays into artfully shattered acoustic laments. Strapping Young Lad, fronted by manic Dio doppelganger Devin Townsend, delivers darkness-imprisoned riffs and shooting-gallery percussion. Norma Jean twists its inscrutable hardcore compositions until they become revelatory -- and loves the Lord for good measure.
Less devout is GWAR, whose stage blood should feel as welcome as lawn-sprinkler drops on a Hades-hot summer day. Poison the Well's breakdowns could crack cement, and Cleveland's Chimaira recently lost almost an entire album's worth of material when a studio hard drive failed, leading to sets that should have extra cathartic kick. That makes six standout acts -- more than Ozzy and Vans Inc. combined could muster this year -- with twelve other high-volume groups still left to peruse.
Doors open at 11 a.m. Tickets are $29 to $34; call 618-274-6720 for more information.
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