Mayhem Fest is in its fourth year as one of the biggest metal tours in the world. This was my very first time attending, so I wanted to have a damn good time. I have to say that anyone who doesn’t attend this, even if they’re not a metal lover like me, you are missing out on a lot. Forgive me when I say this, but I barely remember what songs were played.
The first band I saw was the Jagermeister band winner Nihilist. I only caught the first song of this band because I had other business to attend to. Straight Line Stitch was one band I’d only heard of, but never listened to their music at all. I did this on purpose so that I could be introduced to them in a live setting, and they completely won me over. Their set was full of energy, but unfortunately not a whole lot of people were there (probably stuck in traffic). The vocals were very clear and the music was done without a hitch, but the crowd didn’t seem to give much of a reaction to them.
Red Fang I only heard of from their newest music video called “Wires.” After that I became hooked on their beer-fueled hard acid rock music. Now that I think of it, they were pretty much the only rock band on the entire tour. Anyway, their live show was really heavy and was an all new experience from their recordings. On the recordings it’s really lacking in the heaviness that the live shows bring. A lot of people were really getting in to it, which was really cool for a relatively new band. My only gripe is that the guitars could have been a little louder.
Unearth I’d seen years ago when they toured with Slayer, and I tell everyone I know that Unearth puts on a good show. They really know how to get the crowd going with their high energy sets and pummeling songs that bring the pain to the pit. They are one of the few bands I know that sound just like their studio recordings. To this day I still think of them as a severely underrated band in the metal community and they truly deserve more attention than what they’re getting now.
Suicide Silence was one of the best bands there. When I saw them at Warped Tour last year, I felt they were really lacking in the overall performance because of the time allotted for bands to set up and such. This show redeemed it for me. I felt that their newest album The Black Crown wasn’t as good as their previous album No Time To Bleed, but in a live setting, these songs are the bees knees. “Fuck Everything” and “Human Violence” were two standout tracks for me. Watching the people go at it and move to the music was motivating enough for me to get into the pit. The dust storm didn’t really help this however, so I did it with a shirt tied around my mouth.
Trivium is a band that can truly do no wrong in my eyes. I mean, they are my all-time favorite band for a reason. In my interview with Trivium, Paolo mentioned that in their new album In Waves, he wanted to go back to the sound they had in Ascendancy, and I can see why after the crowd’s reaction. It was very positive throughout the entire performance, so don’t get me wrong here, but whenever they played any of their songs from Ascendancy, you could feel the increased energy from the crowd. The new songs (I don’t remember the titles) were performed really well and I know that this next album will be a contender for album of the year.
Testament is the only band other than Straight Line Stitch that I’ve never listened to before this concert. Being as this was one of my photographers’ favorite bands, it motivated me to check them out. It’s also noteworthy to put that they were the only thrash band at this particular show as well, since Dethklok (whom I missed) replaced Megadeth. I’ve seen a lot of thrash bands and I had my expectations set that they were going to sound like them, but I was wrong. Testament really brought a ton of energy to the people despite the overbearing heat and exhaustion everyone was suffering from. I’m glad I got a chance to finally see them because now I am a fan. The bass really shined over the performance, which resulted in about five or six different mosh pits in the crowd. I would also recommend going to see this band live. If they were this good in an open setting, I can only imagine how good they are in a closed performance like The Warfield in San Francisco.
The final band that I got to see live was Machine Head because I had to leave early to judge at a Battle of the Bands in Morongo Valley. This was my number one band I wanted to see live (next to Dethklok) because I’ve seen almost all of the other bands already. “Aesthetics of Hate” and “Unto The Locust” were the standout tracks here and sound so much better live than on record. Robb Flynn’s vocals carried over very smoothly, Dave McClain’s drumming was phenomenal, Phil Demmel’s guitar work was stunning, and Adam Duce’s bass lines managed to help contain and streamline all the musical brutality I was witnessing.
Mayhem Fest is the metal heads’ Warped Tour. I would urge everyone I know to go to this show every year as I have done with Warped Tour the past three years. I already can’t wait for next year, and I hope Marilyn Manson will be there. *crosses fingers*