We attended the 2013 Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival on July 16th in Mansfield, Massachusetts at the Comcast Center. It was a long, hot day of some excellent sets and good time metal fun. The concert consisted of four stages that began at 1:15 in the afternoon and ended at 11. The stages were The Sumerian Records Stage, The Jagermeister Stage, The MI Stage and The Main Stage. For information on band assignments and set times, click here. The great thing about the Jagermeister and MI Stages, featuring the likes of Children of Bodom, Machine Head, Job For A Cowboy and Emmure, is that there was no lag time between sets. The stages are right next to each other, so when one band finishes the other one immediately begins. If for some reason it is crazy hot like it was when we went and you are unable to continually stay in the sun, we recommend sticking with the Jagermeister Stage and taking shade breaks between bands. This was in our opinion the best and most consistent stage of the day.
There were some really awesome performances and some not so great ones giving a somewhat inconsistent experience. However, this is kind of to be expected at an event of this size. In order to give everyone the best idea of what the show was like, we will review some of the acts in three categories; The Best, The Decent and The Disappointing. Let’s start with the good news and talk about the best performances of the day.
In a surprise to us, Battlecross stole the show and were easily the best performance of the day. If you have never heard or seen these guys live, do yourself a favor and make sure to do both. The Michigan natives played a blistering set of thrash mixed with slight elements of melodic death metal. Guitarists Tony Asta and Hiran Deraniyagala are nothing short of amazing and they have an excellent harmonized sound. The songs and lyrics are very well written. Lead singer Kyle Gunther’s ode to his son “Kaleb” was the standout song of the set along with “Force Fed Lies”. We were so impressed with their set that we went to meet the band at their booth and Bill purchased their new album. The band was so down to earth and thanked Bill numerous times for buying the record. This set is early on in the day, but make sure you do not miss it. Rating: 5/5
Job For A Cowboy
Next up were Arizona death metal act, Job For A Cowboy. For those of you who have not seen them, drummer Jon Rice and vocalist Jonny Davy are two of the best in the business. The guitar work leaves a little bit to be desired, but overall it was an excellent set and added some much needed brutality to the day. The band also does not take themselves too seriously and threw in some comic relief between songs. Rating: 4.5/5
Children of Bodom
Children of Bodom closed the MI Stage and were the best headlining act of the day. They played fan favorites like “Hate Crew Deathroll”, “Six Pounder”, “Angel’s Don’t Kill” and “Silent Night, Bodom Nighht” along with their new excellent black metal influenced track, “Halo of Blood.” These guys always put on a great show and they easily put on the most virtuoso musical performance of the day. Below is their performance of Silent Night, Bodom Night. Rating: 4.5/5
The Viking metal heavyweights Amon Amarth opened the Main Stage at 6:25. They had an amazing set complete with a drum kit on top of a giant Viking war ship. They played an excellent set featuring the likes of “Twilight of the Thunder God”, Deceiver of the Gods” and “Versus the World”. They were definitely the best act on the Main Stage. Unfortunately, we wish they had headlined one of the smaller stages as their set was quite short. Below, you can hear “War of the Gods” and “Deceiver of the Gods” recorded live. Rating: 4.5/5
As usual, the father of modern day shock rock put on one amazing visual performance. It was complete with huge moving stage props, pyro and excellent video boards. The man has always been and continues to be damn entertaining. Zombie debuted new tracks “Teenage Nosferatu Pussy,” “Dead City Radio,” “Ging Gang Gong De Do Gong De Laga Raga,” and “We’re An American Band” (which was phenomenal). For his older songs, the set was pretty typical. It would have been nice to see him change things up a bit considering there’s a wealth of solo and Rob Zombie material to play live. There was a great rendition of the National Anthem played by John5, which he used his teeth Hendrix style to pull the strings.
Below, we recorded “More Human Than Human” and “We’re An American Band” from the show. Rating: 4/5
We had no idea what to expect from the creators of “slut metal”. We only know what we have seen and heard on the internet, which is a thrash metal band that has two really hot girls as lead singers and they tend to perform live with only electrical tape on their nipples. Unfortunately, they were fully clothed in dresses for this performance. The band seems like something thrown together as a novelty act a la Linkin Park, but they were much better than expected. The girls are decent metal screamers and the music was fairly solid. The band definitely needs some work on their song writing and lyrics. Below is a small snippet from the show so you can check out what they are like. Rating: 3.5/5
Neither of us are huge Mastodon fans. We certainly respect their amazing musical abilities and complicated song structures, but it has always been something tough for either of us to get into. Having said that, make sure to catch these guys live if you can. They sound heavier and better than they do on their recorded albums. Although, we were not jumping out of our seats, the set was certainly a pleasant surprise that held our attention. Rating: 3.75/5
These guys come as advertised. They are straight New York deathcore. Their songs are fairly well done and they put on a decent live performance. However because of clothing style and cadence, it sometimes feels as if you are watching a hip hop performance. It felt slightly out of place with most of the other acts. Rating: 3/5
The Sumerian Records Stage was a relative throw away, but there was one band that caught our attention slightly while we were catching some shade. Scorpion Child gives off an old school, almost glam metal feel with some heavier elements to it. The songs are certainly catchy and the band is worth taking a look at if you want to hear something a bit different. Rating: 3/5
The neo-thrash pioneers certainly had some of the most rabid fans of the day and we were certainly looking forward to their set. Unfortunately about 50% of it fell flat for us and at times seemed almost boring. There were some excellent moments with fast thrash riffs and and lyrics that really caught your attention. However, to us at least part of the set had a very simple and watered down feel to it. It gave the feeling that the band was kind of mailing it in a bit. Rating: 3/5
City In The Sea
Once again, we caught a Sumerian Stage band while we were taking in some shade between Jagermeister sets and boy do we wish we missed this one. City In The Sea has every contrived metalcore stereotype you can think of. On top of that the vocals are a horrible mix of attempted rip offs of Philip Anselmo and Chester Bennington. Stay Away. Rating: 1/5
Born of Osiris
They were one of the first bands to come on The MI Stage and we decided to check them out before heading to some of the booths. Progressive metal is excellent and is one of our favorite categories if done right. However, there are times when progressive elements can be way overdone and that was the case with Born of Osiris. These guys were just trying too hard to be progressive and different and it made everything sound way too chaotic. Deathcore, progressive and keyboards is just a mix of sounds that really did not seem to work. Rating: 1/5
Five Finger Death Punch
Where do we begin? FFDP was easily the worst performance of the night. They did not fit with the rest of the lineup at all. Their lyrics are awful and their sound is a terrible commercial mix of nu metal, hard rock, hardcore and post-grunge.
We almost fell out of our seats when the singer opened the set with the words “One, two, fuck you!” We knew we were in for a lame, cliche set once that started.
Everything about Five Finger Death Punch pandered to the audience or certain segments of the audience. Have kids? They pulled up kids onstage, how cute, and how metal of him. He even dedicated a song to his daughter and pulled her up onstage. In the military? This song is for you. Like classic rock? They did a cover of the song “Bad Company.” How can you cover a song that is the name of the band you’re covering?
At one point, they played a song that sounded exactly like a Korn song, another song that sounded just like a familiar Tool riff. Everything seemed borrowed.
They did, however, give away a signed guitar to someone who was serving in Kuwait, which was the only respectable part of their show.
Unfortunately a fair amount of fans did come to see them, but it looks like they just came for this performance. The set and fan base reminded us of the hey day of nu metal. To use a wrestling analogy, FFDP is the John Cena of heavy metal. The true diehard metal fans hate them and the kids and teenage girls love them. There were numerous high pitched teenage girl screams that reminded us of any Limp Bizkit show circa 1998. We were waiting for Amon Amarth to come out to tell FFDP how much they suck and save the set, but that unfortunately never happened. Make sure to get a bite to eat during this one. Or, if you love butt rock/butt metal, you will be salivating over this set. Rating: 0/5
Overall this was a solid Mayhem Fest, but be prepared to skip out on a few mediocre and downright bad performances. Although this will not rank among the best Mayhem Festivals, The Jagermeister Stage, Battlecross, Children of Bodom, Amon Amarth and Rob Zombie are worth the price of admission.
Overall Rating: 3.75/5