2011 Rockstar Mayhem Fest In All of its Glory
Mayhem Fest 2011 totally delivered the mosh to the masses and what a wicked crazy time it was. 13 bands (including the individual cities local Jager band) representing a very wide range of metal styles, performing on three stages with 26 tour stops all over North America and Hollywood Music was there to cover all the insanity. Whether it was Jimmy Roc in California, Grib in Washington (check out his Mayhem coverage on Hollywoodmusic.tv), or myself and Stu Kennedy in Denver the Hollywood Music crew grabbed onto the runaway chaos that was Mayhem Fest 2011 and got the inside goods on all the bands.
Performing on the Extreme Stage were Riverside, California’s deathcore giants Suicide Silence who were out supporting their brand new album The Black Crown which is their third full-length album. Suicide Silence has won two Golden Gods awards for “Most Innovative Band” and “Best New Talent” and their live show is just one notch below life threatening. For their set in Denver there was not anyone hanging out in the beer tents they were all jammed onto the literally melting asphalt to see what damage Suicide Silence was going to do.
All Shall Perish is an extreme deathcore band from Oakland, California who are on Nuclear Blast records which released the latest ASP album This Is Where It Ends on July 26, 2011. When I put out a question on Facebook about “What’s the number one band you are going to Mayhem for?” All Shall Perish destroyed and came in number one by a mile. These guys have a rabid fan base which is growing exponentially.
From the “The nicest people who will kick your ears ass” category comes one of my absolute new favorite bands Straight Line Stitch. I first saw them last year opening for Soulfly and instantly became a fan. The SLS set at Mayhem was nothing short of life affirming awesome. Their new album The Fight of Our Lives reached #5 on the Billboard Heatseekers chart and #34 on the Top Independent Albums chart and is some of the best metalcore flowing these days. I also believe that Alexis Brown will go down in metal history as a legend. She has all the makings of one and is really just so nice you think she’s going to make you cookies just for coming to see Straight Line Stitch perform.
The first national on the Jagermeister stage at Mayhem was Red Fang from Portland, Oregon who not only can pummel an audience with their stoner sludge metal but are some of the funniest guys on the road. Check out their videos. Even if you don’t like heavy metal (Which if that is the case why are you reading this?) you will at least chuckle at their videos “Prehistoric Dog” and “Wires”. Red Fang’s new album Murder the Mountains is on Relapse Records and if sludge powered heavy grooves are your scene then this is your album of the year.
Unearth used to be one of my favorite bands and now they are again with their new album Darkness in the Light which absolutely destroys. It’s definitely going to land in my top 5 albums for the year unless something ludicrous and legendary happens before New Years. At Mayhem Unearth’s set was stupid awesome because the guys were trying to outdo each other and the amount of air they were catching off of their amps was ankle shattering. I give the contest to Buz McGrath who did something between a flying karate thing and table top jump on a bike but it was with his guitar. It was a gold metal winner for sure. (And yeah I spelled that right.)
Kingdom of Sorrow is the heaviest of metal and it is played by the man with the best beard in the business Kirk Windstein of Down/Crowbar and one of my all time favorite vocalists Jamey Jasta of Hatebreed. If you ever want to see several thousand people head banging in unison like it’s supposed to be done then check out Kingdom of Sorrow because that is exactly what their set was like at Mayhem. Heavy freakin metal with incredible riffage is a crushing and yet very tasty recipe for the ear holes.
Now onto the main stage. Taking their rightful place on the big stage was Machine Head who are about to release their new album Unto the Locust that sounds like it is going to be nothing short of astounding and Phil Demmel himself told me it is better than The Blackening which has been universally hailed as one of the best metal albums of the decade. If the Denver Mayhem wasn’t sold out then it was only about three people shy of that mark and Machine Head showed them all what’s what.
Trivium is another band that has worked hard to come up the ranks all the way to the main stage. I have been a big fan of these guys since the Ascendancy album and you could tell that Matt Heafy and crew were there to bring the rain. Trivium converted many Denverites to their camp with a high energy flawless set which was perfect timing because their new album In Waves drops here shortly.
The pre-Mayhem chatter was definitely dominated by the Swedish melodic death metal band In Flames. There were those that had already seen In Flames and those who were wondering if the awesomeness was just all hype. It’s not. In Flames are and incredible band who write genre defining music. I was very happy when I heard that they were going to be on Mayhem so that they could get some exposure with fans who might not have heard of them before. Their set was a great mixture of songs from their previous catalog of tunes and some new ones from their brand new CD Sounds of a Playground Fading that had all of Fiddler’s Green seriously getting their metal on.
In the direct support slot on the main stage was the Megadeth quarter piece of the Big Four and their performance was so good it looked like even Dave Mustaine was having fun. Which of course means that the population of the medium sized town that was in attendance were in full-on-metal-ape-shit-mode. Megadeth’s new album Th1rt3en will be dropping on November 1st of this year on Roadrunner Records. If you guessed they named it that because it was their 11th album you would be WRONG! No metal cookies for you. From what I have been hearing so far Th1rt3en is going to be very worthy of standing along side the likes of Peace, Rust, and Countdown.
The dueling headliners for this year’s Mayhem Fest were Disturbed and Godsmack and both bands are huge radio sing-a-long favorites of the hard rockin’ FM drive-home crowd. Their sets were the perfect and very festive ending to the 2011 Mayhem Fest which again was a great showcase of new talent on the second stages and a celebration of stadium rocking for the headliners.
Now all we have to do is wait until January to hear what the line up is for 2012. My vote is for Slipknot.
Main stage shots by Stu Kennedy of skfunphotos.com and the other ones by Victor Von Groovenstein.