’s North American roadshow – complete with a travelling museum of band artefacts and memorabilia – is a blissfully brutal summer fare. With three of the heaviest-hitting next gen acts pulled along for the ride, Knotfest captures the spirit of the seminal Family Values roadshow of the early 2000s (which brought the likes of Korn
and Limp Bizkit
to the masses across North America), but dumps the nu-metal hang ups and sits firmly with the times. In fact, with all three support acts – Behemoth, Gojira and Volbeat – hailing from Europe, metal’s looking more cultured and continental that ever.
Poland’s blackened death metal overlords Behemoth perform in front of an upside down cross pinned to a map of the USA. Back home lead singer Nergal is a mainstream celebrity, having won a freedom of speech court battle after being arrested for tearing up a bible on stage, then going on to host their version of Pop Idol. Whilst his Christ-baiting antics have already got him into hot water in the States, up here in Toronto the mild-mannered and well adjusted Canadians pay more nuanced attention to their noisy political commentary – by turning up early and getting caught in the mosh.
They’re followed by French groove-metal titans Gojira, who take their eco-friendly, save-the-whales brand of brutality and coax the crowd into a heavy meditative state as the sun sets on the water behind the glorious, outdoor Budweiser stage venue. After Behemoth’s awesome fire-and-smoke stage show they seem a little subdued by comparison, but by the enchanting riff of ’The Gift Of Guilt’ – one of metal’s more intelligent offering to deal with inter-generational bad vibes – the crowd are out in force (complete with mosh-pit friendly inflatable whales). Denmark’s Volbeat round off the opening Euro Trip with a smattering of smart & catchy songs like ’Seal The Deal’ that are a punch or two more ‘pop’ than anyone else in the evening so far – which elevates the most nicely before the main event.
Stepping out onto the stage the same week their sixth studio album ‘We Are Not Your Kind’
is hitting number one in North America and Europe, Slipknot bring their 2019 setlist premiered at Download to Toronto, now perfected for the road with added guts and glory. Corey Taylor – the most inclusive man in metal – has his stadium rallying patter so perfected you honestly feel like he’s at the bar talking to you during his empathetic between-song spoken interludes. The band open with a violent trio of spark plug bangers from their early years, ‘People=Shit’, ‘(sic)’ and ‘Get This’ that lands so hard that if they left the stage right afterwards and called it a night you’d already have had your money’s worth. New material is kept to a minimum – only ‘Unsainted’ and ’Solway Firth’ get an airing… and it’s probably for the best. Most of the set meanders through the highs of their twenty year career and reminds you that, wow, they’ve really released a lot of good stuff in the years since they first made entire festival audiences sit on the ground and jump in unison to “Spit It Out” – as they do once more, ceremoniously, tonight. All in all, it’s a strong testament not only to the enduring power of Slipknot, but of metal culture itself. Metalheads – we salute you.