Gigantour, the Dave Mustaine-curated prog-metal festival, boasts more squealing solos than Ozzfest, more anti-government conspiracy theories than Warped and more virtuosity than defunct jamathons such as H.O.R.D.E. and Furthur. Its main-stage headliners have released indisputable classics, bastions of instrumental intelligence and lyrical eloquence. However, even longhaired luminaries have their off days, or decades. Let's see who history has treated the most kindly.


So Far, So Good: Megadeth's '80s albums generated "Hangar 18," the least ludicrous song ever written about government-controlled aliens; "Holy Wars," an eternally relevant diatribe about ill-advised intervention; and "Rust in Peace," a nuclear missile's chilling first-person warning. Mustaine's serpentine vocals and curled-lip sneer communicated righteous anger, and the densely knotted dual guitars established Megadeth as the most technically accomplished of the era's thrash titans.

Who's Buying?: Megadeth unleashed an unholy trilogy in the mid-'90s, each album sliding further down the suck spectrum. Youthanasia's songs were as painful as its titular pun, Cryptic Writings merged power-ballad production with neutered grunge riffs and Risk resembles Andrew W.K.'s cheese-rawk without the knowing irony.

Holy Wars, redux: Mustaine converted to Christianity, a decision that clashed with his genre's inverted-cross sensibilities. He recently threatened to abandon overseas festivals unless they removed Satanic acts such as Rotting Christ and Dissection, incensing Nuclear Assault's Dan Lilker, among others.


When Dream and Day Unite: Like a substantially less fey version of Yes, Dream Theater noodles as if punk's push for primal vitality had never occurred. Its chameleonic tendencies make even 40-minute songs endurable.

Falling Into Infinity: Drummer Mike Portnoy strolls onstage in a silk boxing robe. Guitarist John Petrucci and bassist John Myung kick a soccer ball mid-medley, with Portnoy occasionally offering a header while playing a solo. Such theatrics might be invigorating at prizefights and slam-dunk contests, but this is a metal show, people. These stunts would only work in this context if that ball eventually rolled into a giant skull's mouth, triggering a pyrotechnic display.


New Breed: Originally a death-metal outfit, Fear Factory gradually incorporated gentler vocals and science-fiction themes. Demanufacture, its first concept album, uses industrial-rock elements to flesh out its depiction of a brutal technocracy.

Bite the Hand That Bleeds: Fear Factory disbanded after 2001's tepid Digimortal, and groupie-shagging gastropod guitarist Dino Cazares absorbed much of the blame. My Ruin singer (and former rapper) Tairrie B., who once dated Fear Factory frontman Burton C. Bell, released a statement alleging that Cazares "pays porn stars to be seen with him" and assessing him as an "oversexed, overrated, overfed egomaniac." Bell deserves dishonorable mention for his stolid rap cadence during FF's horrible hip-hop hybrids.

Soul of a New Machine: Fear Factory reformed (without Cazares) and released 2004's Archetype, a solid effort that proved the band didn't need Dino for might.

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(with Megadeth, Dream Theater, Fear Factory, Nevermore, Dillinger Escape Plan)
5:30 p.m. Saturday
Hard Rock Live

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