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DISTURBED/KORN




 MUSIC AS A WEAPON TOUR: DISTURBED, KORN, SEVENDUST, IN THIS MOMENT

 Live at the Rockford Metro Centre, January 16th, 2011

 Review by Dark Starr

I've always been a big fan of Korn, so I was looking forward to this show a lot. While I had been a bit less impressed by some of the recorded material I’d heard from Sevendust and Disturbed, and had yet to hear In This Moment at all, it seemed likely it would be a great show. For the most part ,that assessment was accurate.


When In This Moment hit the stage, it was in a subtle way. Melodic music served as the accompaniment to some sung vocals and we got to see that the group had a female lead singer. Dressed in a white dress, it seemed like the group might be about to launch into a European epic metal type of performance. Well, that wasn’t the case. Instead, In This Moment’s brand of music was incredibly aggressive and the vocals were not sung, but screamed. It just didn’t work. Taking the vocals out of the equation the group would have been much stronger, but the full picture was just plain bad. Mind you, I heard several people in the audience making similar comments. One girl was representative when she told her male companion, “I told you, the music is good until she starts singing, then it’s terrible.” I really find that an accurate description.

When I heard the new CD from Sevendust I felt that it was a bit too generic and overproduced. It just didn’t seem all that interesting. As soon as they hit the stage it became apparent that where Sevendust really shines is in the live performance. They came out and just connected and entertained in a great way. Their sound was so much different from the sound on that album. It was aggressive and powerful metal, but with a bit of a groove to it. Comparisons to Living Colour would be appropriate, but this music was much more metal than that would indicate.


 

There was a definite sense of genuine enjoyment coming from the band. They seemed intent on connecting with the audience, and that really added a lot to their performance. They had only a very short time to play, and that’s a shame because they were really great. Perhaps it would have been better to have left the first band off altogether and split their time between Sevendust and Korn. I guess it just means I need to go see Sevendust headline a gig sometime.



 Since I had the highest hopes for Korn, it meant that if anyone was going to disappoint, it would be them. The expectations were the most elevated. Well, they certainly did not let me down. Their sound is so interesting and unusual that they are a metal band, but also not. Certainly comparisons to Tool are appropriate, but Korn doesn’t really sound like Tool. They have their own particular flavor. Their set was still shorter than I would have preferred, but they did get more stage time than was allotted to Sevendust.

 I had a greater familiarity with Korn’s catalogue, so I knew most of the songs they played. They have such a great grasp of contrasting mellower sounds with more ferocious riffs. Yet, there is a certain dark tone that permeates all of the music. Some bands lose some of the subtlety of a sound like that in the live setting. That’s not the case with Korn. While their performance isn’t like sitting down and listening to the CD, they don’t lose the more unique sides of their sound when playing live.

 For my money, I’d have to say that Korn’s set was my favorite of the night. Sure, part of that’s because I like them better, but there is more variety to their sound than either Sevendust or Disturbed have. That made their performance stronger. Once again, more stage time would have been preferred, but with a show that good, you just can’t really complain.

 Disturbed headlined, and for that reason they played longer than any of the other bands. Their sound was, in many ways, more aggressive than either Korn or Sevendust. In fact, in terms of aggressiveness the only band that really matched them was In This Moment. Of course, while that band had vocals that just plain sucked, Disturbed were at the other end of the suckometer, rocking very hard. 

 
They opened with the first song from their new album, an instrumental, which created a dramatic entrance. I would equate it to the same type of experience when Judas Priest opens with “The Hellion” and Rob Halford doesn’t hit the stage until that cut ends. It really creates a piece of dramatic, theatrical staging. It works well for Priest and it works well for Disturbed. 


 Besides a longer set, Disturbed’s staging was much more involved. Huge screens on the stage added to the experience. The band is one that has some definite variety to their sound. They also have an understanding, although not shown to the level that Korn displays, of how to use varying levels of loud and soft to create a dramatic contrast. These guys never lose their control of the stage. The show never lags or becomes boring.

 Considering that I’ve only really heard the new album and a couple of other songs from this group before, it is really a testament to their strength as a live band that the music held up as well as it did. Many times when a listener lacks familiarity with a group’s music, the songs have a tendency to all feel the same. That was never the case with Disturbed. While, I personally enjoyed Korn more (because I have a greater affinity to their sound), I understand why Disturbed belongs in a headlining spot. They are really a great live band.

 Overall, the whole bill was strong, except for the opener. Each band had its own flavor. Yet, they all worked together well. The three main groups all excel in live performance, showing even more power than exhibited on their albums. I’d definitely see any of the three well-known acts again. Please, please, don’t make me sit through another round of In This Moment, though.