Rockstar Mayhem Festival 2013

By Chip Tamplin

Published on Saturday, July 27, 2013

One of the most successful annual metal tours since the demise of OZZfest, Mayhem Fest has been an absolute blast to cover every year…but this years line up felt substantially more lacking in “firepower” than previous years. The festival did not sell well this year, either. I’m hoping this isn’t signaling a decline for not only the festival, but the fun that comes with covering it every year.

 

Battlecross:

Despite not being too familiar with them, I thoroughly enjoyed Battlecross. The band had great energy and vocalist Kyle Gunther was a very charismatic front man. I loved seeing him talk about and describe the song “Kaleb”, which was about his son. They were definitely one of the surprise bands of the weekend.

Vocals: 9
Crowd Response: 8
Overall Sound: 9
Band Activity: 9
Overall rating: 8.5

Set list:

1. Breaking You
2. Man of Stone
3. Kaleb
4. Force Fed Lies
5. Flesh and Bone
6. Pursuit of Honor
7. Push Pull Destroy

 

Motionless in White:

Like a lot of bands that I tend to photograph a lot, I don’t really like their music but I love photographing them. That’s definitely the case for Motionless in White. Live, I love seeing them but I’ve never found myself listening to them in my spare time. Motionless has been blowing up over the last year thanks to full stints on the Vans Warped Tour and now Mayhem Fest.

Vocalist Chris Cerulli is a monster on stage – constantly running from side to side, jumping and screaming at the crowd to get more involved. He’s definitely one of the best front men around today.

I wasn’t sure how well they’d be received at Mayhem given both their sound and appearance, but they were definitely one of the best-received bands from the side stages. I guess that goes to show you just how accepting metal fans are.

Vocals: 9.5
Crowd Response: 9.5
Overall Sound: 9.5
Band Activity: 10
Overall rating: 9.5

Set list:

1. Devil’s Night
2. Immaculate Misconception
3. Sick From the Melt
4. Puppets 2 (The Rain)
5. Abigail
6. America

 

Butcher Babies:

I’d heard of Butcher Babies well before this tour, but unfortunately I’d missed every opportunity to shoot them. Whether they’re going for it or not, I always heard them referred to as “the girls with nothing but tape over their boobs”. They recently ditched that look for the more traditional leather look, but it definitely still works for them.

Sure, both vocalists – Carla Harvey and Heidi Shepherd – are beautiful, but sex appeal aside, they’re both phenomenal front women. I loved the energy from both of them. Songs like “The Mirror Never Lies” and “Goliath” were phenomenal live and despite how early in the day they were – the crowd still loved them.

Vocals: 9.5
Crowd Response: 9
Overall Sound: 9.5
Band Activity: 9
Overall rating: 9.5

Set list:

1. I Smell a Massacre
2. The Mirror Never Lies
3. Magnolia BLVD
4. Jesus Needs More Babies for His War Machine
5. National Bloody Anthem
6. Mr. Slowdeath
7. Goliath
8. Axe Wound

 

Born of Osiris:

One of the biggest things for me to do with my photography now is to shoot bands I’ve never gotten to before. It helps keep things fresh for me and continue wanting to do what I do. So, in keeping with that theme, I was happy to photograph Born of Osiris for the first time.

Oddly enough, Born of Osiris’ keyboardist Joe Buras was easily one of the craziest members of the band. He had more energy than half of the band combined, and that’s no small feat. I didn’t realize just how popular they were amongst the Mayhem crowd until they came on. They drew one of the craziest crowds of the day.

Vocals: 9
Crowd Response: 9.5
Overall Sound: 9.5
Band Activity: 9.5
Overall rating: 9.5

Set list:

1. Follow the Signs
2. Ascension
3. Open Arms to Damnation
4. Abstract Art
5. Machine
6. Bow Down
7. Recreate

 

Job for a Cowboy:

I’ve never been a fan of Job For a Cowboy’s style of metal, but man they are fun live. Vocalist Jonny Davy is a monster on stage. Not just because of his jacked stature, but also because of his energy and just how much fun he looked like he was having on stage. Even while screaming his lungs out, he would be smiling from ear to ear. It was a great site. Still not a big fan of their music, but I definitely understand their appeal a lot more after seeing them.

Vocals: 9
Crowd Response: 9
Overall Sound: 9
Band Activity: 8
Overall rating: 8.5

Set list:

1. Entombment of a Machine
2. Children of Deceit
3. Knee Deep
4. Tarnished Gluttony
5. Constitutional Masturbation

 

Emmure:

Emmure was the only band I couldn’t stand on the bill. Rather than completely trash the band (because I see no point in doing that), I’m just going to let their review end here.

Set list:

1. 4 Poisons 3 Words
2. Solar Flare Homicide
3. Sunday Bacon
4. I Thought You Met Telly and Turned Me Into Casper
5. Demons with Ryu
6. Drug Dealer Friend
7. Dogs Get Put Down
8. R2Deepthroat
9. Children of Cybertron

 

Machine Head:

While the overall depth of this year’s line up was severely lacking, it was great to see Machine Head back and better than ever. Vocalist and guitarist Robb Flynn is one of the most iconic front men in metal and for good reason. He’s kept Machine Head a well-oiled machine for over two decades despite member changes and health problems.

I will admit that it’s sad to see such a talented band not only headlining a side stage but doing so on the THIRD stage. I have to assume they’re choosing where they want to play, but it’s still unfortunate. Though, it did set up the awesome 1-2-3 punch of them, Bodom and Amon Amarth, so I guess it wasn’t *too* bad.

Much like Metallica and other notable thrash metal bands, Machine Head’s songs are so long that their set list is incredible small, but man was this one solid. Ending with “Halo” may be predictable now, but that doesn’t make it any less epic. Throwing in “Imperium” and “Davidian” just make for an unbeatable set.

Vocals: 10
Crowd Response: 10
Overall Sound: 9.5
Band Activity: 8
Overall rating: 10

Set list:

1. Davidian
2. The Blood, the Sweat, the Tears
3. Imperium
4. Locust
5. Halo

 

Children of Bodom:

To continue the 1-2-3 punch I previously mentioned was Finland’s Children of Bodom. Vocalist and lead guitarist Alexi Laiho seems to be a very reserved person in his private life, but on stage he definitely takes control of the stage and destroys it in the process. Much like Machine Head, they were easily deserving of headlining a side stage but they could’ve easily been moved to main stage as well. But I loved seeing them headline the second stage. Songs like “Blooddrunk” and “Hate Crew Deathroll” were phenomenal live and the pits were insane. I hope to see them back on future line-ups.

Vocals: 9
Crowd Response: 9.5
Overall Sound: 9.5
Band Activity: 8
Overall rating: 9.5

Set list:

1. Sixpounder
2. Halo of Blood
3. Bodom After Midnight
4. Everytime I Die
5. Hate Me!
6. Blooddrunk
7. Hate Crew Deathroll
8. In Your Face

 

Amon Amarth:

I remember seeing Swedish Viking metal aficionados way back when at Download Festival 2008 in England and just being blown away by them. Well, their popularity has definitely risen a lot over the last few years in the States thanks to the awesome success of their 2008 album Twilight of the Thunder God and 2011’s Surtur Rising.

Keeping with their love of Viking history and mythology that have become the staple of their songs and albums, Amon Amarth came out with an incredible stage set up of a Viking ship (pictured below). While the crowd didn’t seem tremendously familiar with them, they did seem to enjoy the set a lot. Definitely one of the best sets of the day, both in terms of stage production as well as their set in general.

Vocals: 9
Crowd Response: 9
Overall Sound: 9
Band Activity: 9.5
Overall rating: 9

Set list:

1. Destroyer of the Universe
2. The Pursuit of Vikings
3. War of the Gods
4. Deceiver of the Gods
5. Death in Fire
6. Twilight of the Thunder God

 

Mastodon:

For years, I’ve felt Mastodon would be a substantially better band if they were purely instrumental. Musically their sound is awesome, but the vocals on each song are so unbelievably grating that it borders on torture. That said, for the first time ever the vocals weren’t terrible live. Vocalist and bassist Troy Sanders was substantially more on point than normal. I’m not sure if he took vocal lessons or actually made more of an effort, but my ears commend him either way.

Vocals: 7
Crowd Response: 9
Overall Sound: 8
Band Activity: 6
Overall rating: 7

Set list:

1. Black Tongue
2. Crystal Skull
3. Dry Bone Valley
4. Megalodon
5. Stargasm
6. Blasteroid
7. All the Heavy Lifting
8. Spectrelight
9. Bedazzled Fingernails
10. The Sparrow

 

Five Finger Death Punch:

If you’ve read any of my reviews of Five Finger Death Punch over the last few years, you’d know how sick of them I’ve been. They’ve been at almost every festival and every tour I’ve covered over the past few years but after some time off from them, it was actually good to see them again.

Their following has grown an absurd amount since I saw them open the main stage at Rock on the Range in 2008. I still think their music is a bit generic, but damn are they phenomenal live. Vocalist Ivan Moody is definitely a great front man both in terms of voice as well as energy. The whole band just knows how to work the crowd and I think their crowd did a great job of rivaling headliner Rob Zombie’s. Even though I’m sure I’ll regret saying this after I’ve seen them for the 10th time in a year a few months from now I will go ahead and say it – I missed FFDP.

Vocals: 9.5
Crowd Response: 10
Overall Sound: 9.5
Band Activity: 10
Overall rating: 10

Set list:

1. Under and Over It
2. Burn it Down
3. Hard to See
4. Bad Company [Bad Company cover]
5. White Knuckles
6. Lift Me Up
7. Coming Down
8. Never Enough
9. Far From Home
10. The Bleeding

 

Rob Zombie:

Much like Five Finger, I was so sick of Rob Zombie. Not because I don’t enjoy him live, but just because of the unbelievable predictability that comes with one of his shows. Once you’ve seen him once or twice, you’ve seen all that really comes with his shows. It’s initially impressive, but gets old quickly. Going into this show, I was expecting the same show that I saw about a year ago, but was told he was revamping everything – from the set list to the stage set up. Unfortunately once he came on it was pretty clear that it was more or less the same thing that I’d become accustomed to.

While he still sounded great, the predictability was a huge downer for me – especially when I was promised something different. John 5 – who I think has his talents wasted performing with other people – was definitely the highlight of the set. Both in his antics on stage and just his unbelievable talent which was showcased well on a cover of “The Star Spangled Banner”.

If this was your first or second Rob Zombie show I’m sure you were blown away by it all like I was my first time seeing him, but if it wasn’t, you were as bored as I was. I hope he decides to switch it up more for his upcoming tour with Alice Cooper or it may be my last time seeing him.

Vocals: 9.5
Crowd Response: 9.5
Overall Sound: 9.5
Band Activity: 9
Overall rating: 10

Set list:

1. Teenage Nosferatu Pussy
2. Superbeast
3. Meet the Creeper
4. Living Dead girl
5. The Star-Spangled Banner [John Stafford Smith cover]
6. We’re an American Band [Grand Funk Railroad cover]
7. More Human than Human [White Zombie cover]
8. Sick Bubble-Gum
9. Never Gonna Stop (The Red, Red Kroovy)
10. House of 1,000 Corpses
11. Dead City Radio and the New Gods of Supertown
12. Thunder Kiss ’65

Encore:

13. Dragula

 

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Photos (Bands Listed in Alphabetical Order):

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