Well here we are again at what has become a staple of my summers for the past five years: The Rockstar Energy Mayhem Festival. This year boasted another great lineup and another immensely fun day of metal.
My friends and I go there a bit late around 3:15. We unfortunately missed Whitechapel, who was the only band that I cared about seeing that we did. I have seen them four times so it's not that big of a deal, but I did want to hear their new material live. Thankfully they are coming back in September with Hatebreed and All Shall Perish so I will try to catch that show. The first band of the day I actually caught was The Devil Wears Prada. Their show was exactly what I anticipated it would be: The band sounded good, The clean vocals were good, and Mike Hranica's voice is completely blown out causing the whole set to be derailed. It's the same problem that plagued their most recent album Dead Throne and it make become even more of prominent issue during their live show. It really is a damn shame that Hranica's screams are so weak. The band has progressed so much in every area, but they are being held back with underwhelming lead vocals. They really need to get a new vocalist immediately. If they got a new lead vocalist and continued to grow as musicians , They would be a pretty fucking great metalcore act. I give them points for the musicianship and improved stage presence from the last time I saw them in 2010 with Killswitch Engage, but the grating screaming vocals prevented me from enjoying their performance.
After a brief bathroom and Rockstar break, In which I walked past Upon A Burning Body playing on the Sumerian Stage and laughed my ass that they were playing a breakdown with the lyrics "The stars at night are big and bright, Deep in the heart of Texas!" Borrowing from a Texas state anthem trying to sound heavy? And these guys take themselves seriously? Unbelievable. Anyways it was time for As I Lay Dying to hit the stage. As always, they were great. They are in the absolute elite league of metalcore bands especially in a live environment. Tim Lambesis is such a monster of a vocalist and they played everything perfectly. The crowd was noticeably way more into their set with large circle and push pits throughout (with a few hardcore dancers who were getting pissed that people were actually legitimately moshing) and a wall of death during "Confined". The set was full of their staples which is perfect for a festival and "The Sound of Truth" was a spectacular choice for a closer. That being said, This was without a doubt my least favorite of the three times I've seen As I Lay Dying because of a pretty weak sound mix throughout (First few songs the guitar was way too low in the mix then the last few the vocals and drums were too low in the mix). The shit sound didn't effect their set too much and they still put on a great show. I definitely want to see them again soon, hopefully headlining after their new album comes out in September.
Anthrax closed out the Jager stage for the evening. Anthrax was definitely the band I was most excited to see that I hadn't seen before on the bill. They did not disappoint at all with a 40-minute set that was one of the best on the whole day. Joey Belladonna sounded spectacular and he is also a great frontman getting the crowd pumped and running around like a maniac on stage. He was also surprisingly funny cracking a lot of jokes in between songs. My only complaint with their set was them playing two covers. Granted they were pretty good, but I would've have much rather heard two Anthrax originals instead of two covers given their relatively short set time. I can scratch another iconic band off my to-see list after seeing Anthrax yesterday and I would love to see them again at some point in time.
The worst part of the day had arrived: It was time for Asking Alexandria. As expected, they were fucking earth-shatteringly terrible . I felt like I needed to see a grief councilor because my ears had been raped by Danny Worsnop and his scene-haircut posse. They whined along for what seemed like an eternity doing nothing but fixing their hair and playing the same open note breakdowns while little girls screamed their lungs out and everyone else looked bored as hell. This band is everything wrong with metal at the moment. They are a fucking boy band with guitars. They are one of the few bands around that is strictly image-based who plays the most mind-numbingly generic metal possible in an attempt to make money and get groupies. The fact that little girls pretty much run the music industry is the only reason they are popular. Unless you have a vagina or you're a pedophile who gets hard at the sight of prepubescent tits being flashed, Stay far, far away from Asking Alexandria. An unholy abomination of performance and a definite contender for the worst live band I've ever seen (and I've seen a TON of bands).
Anything would've have sounded good after Asking Alexandria had just queefed on the stage for a half-hour, but British hard rock legends Motorhead tore it up. They were loud (though I don't agree with Kerry King when he said they are louder than Slayer), catchy, and most of all, just a lot of fun to watch. I am sucker for good riffs and Motorhead has them in droves. Their setlist contained songs that spanned most of their 30-year career and they even threw in an awesome drum solo at the end of "The One to Sing the Blues". One thing that made me laugh about their set was hearing Lemmy talk in between songs. He is so fucked up from years of heavy partying he's like a slightly more coherent Ozzy Osbourne. It doesn't really matter, he is known for his rough vocals and he still sounds great vocally well into his 60's. They did have to cut "Overkill" which is unfortunate (They didn't confirm this, but Phil Campbell mentioned after "Damage Case" that they almost missed the show because of traffic getting to the venue). Motorhead rocked hard and it was cool to finally see these icons.
The almighty Slayer was up next. From the opening notes of "Disciple", they instantly reminded me just how perfect they are live. Slayer isn't flashy when it comes to stage presence or energy, but they play their songs so perfectly that it doesn't matter. I almost threw out my neck from headbanging for their entire set. They sounded even better than they did the last time I saw them and they had one of the most badass stage setups I've ever seen (Fire everywhere with inverted cross stack-amps and a giant flaming Slayer eagle behind them). Gary Holt did an awesome job filling for Jeff Hanneman and Kerry King and Dave Lombardo blew my mind with their spot-on playing. The highlight of the set for me was "Angel of Death". Hearing Tom Araya do the opening scream perfectly is one of my favorite concerts moments ever. One of the loudest, heaviest, and best live bands around, Slayer destroyed and remain the best thrash band I've ever seen.
Slipknot closed out the show with a bang. It was awesome getting to see them again after the death of Paul Gray in 2010 and it honestly made them perform even better. It was clear where to trying put on the best possible shows in his memory and they succeeded. They might not write the amazing music or be the best musicians on the planet, but their live show is outstanding. It's so intense and full of energy that it's impossible to not get completely awe-struck by their performance. The biggest improvement over the last time was the setlist. I was so stoked to finally hear "Wait and Bleed", "Eyeless", and "Spit It Out" (participating in the iconic "Jump the fuck up" part of the song was incredible) live. "Gently" was a nice deep cut and the other staples such as "The Heretic Anthem", "Duality" (which was dedicated to Paul Gray), "People=Shit", and "Surfacing" were amazing. My only tiny complaint is I wish they had played at least one more song off of All Hope Is Gone. Seeing Slipknot has a huge nostalgia factor for me. They were one of the first metal bands that I listened to and though I was never as into them as I was other bands such from that era such as Korn or System of a Down, but they were still an essential in my early teenage years. Slipknot re-confirmed they're one of the best live bands on the planet with their spectacular set to cap off another great Mayhem Fest. Hopefully the organizers can get it right again next year and keep this insanely fun festival alive (Please have High On Fire do it next year to make up for them dropping off this year).
The Devil Wears Prada 5/10
As I Lay Dying 8.5/10
Asking Alexandria 0/10
The Devil Wears Prada (may be missing a song):
Born to Lose
Assistant to the Regional Manager
As I Lay Dying:
The Sound of Truth
Caught in a Mosh
Got the Time (Joe Jackson cover)
Fight Em' Till You Can't
Antisocial (Trust cover)
I Am the Law
I Know How To Die
Over the Top
The Chase Is Better Than the Catch
The One to Sing the Blues (with drum solo)
Going to Brazil
Killed by Death
Ace of Spades
Die by the Sword
Altar of Sacrifice
Seasons in the Abyss
Dead Skin Mask
Angel of Death
South of Heaven
Wait and Bleed
Before I Forget
The Heretic Anthem
Spit it Out
People = Shit