Featuring two of the day’s most popular heavy rock acts — the masked Midwest horror-meisters Slipknot and the politically-driven Southland quartet System Of A Down — the nationwide Pledge of Allegiance tour features a couple bands whose recordings and performances are marked by uncompromising intensity. However, their musical styles and their levels of talent, as seen at the near-full Forum, share few resemblances.
After a typically explosive set by German fire-tamers Rammstein, as well as opening turns by young groups Mudvayne and No One, System played their first L.A show in two years and the first since the release earlier this month of their long-awaited second disc, “Toxicity” (American/Columbia), which hit No. 1 its first week in stores.
The band gave long-suffering local fans an excellent, hour-long set comprised of mostly new songs that in many ways outclassed top-billed Slipknot.
From the drug-law politics of slamming opener “Prison,” which recalls singer Serj Tankian’s arrest last year, to the breakneck fantasy of “Bounce,” which included an appropriately sexy video behind the band, to the syncopated anger of “Deer Dance,” which featured “Tron”-like special effects and a dedication to the LAPD, all of the new tunes lived up to their recorded counterparts, despite the Forum’s muffling acoustics.
Most impressive of the lot, however, was thrashing rock of “Needles,” which broke down into a cool and unexpected reggae finale. Tankian’s outstanding vocal skills were successfully put to the test during current radio hit “Chop Suey.” SOAD also offered a couple older songs to close their impressive set, including early fave “Sugar.”
Des Moines, Iowa’s Slipknot is a nine-piece industrial-metal band that plays while wearing garish masks over their faces, which is somewhat of a distraction from the outfit’s terribly repetitive and cacophonous noise. Their headlining production here, however, left much to be desired.
Moronic opener “People Shit,” taken from the band’s new Roadrunner album “Iowa,” pretty much set the tone for their hateful and ultimately pointless perf, followed soon after by the nastiness of “Get This,” a bonus track on some versions of Slipknot’s 1999 debut album that espouses contempt for all other bands.
Vocalist 8 (members are assigned numbers), otherwise known as Corey, wore a dreadful facial covering with fake dreadlocks sticking from it. He screamed venomous lyrics that nearly all the rambunctious and moshing kids knew word-for-word, like those of crowd fave “Disasterpiece,” which opens with the line “I wanna slit your throat and f— the wound.”
Surely a band as one-dimensional as Slipknot won’t be treading the arena boards for much longer, while System Of A Down shows all the signs of a band with the parts in place for long and productive ride.