Mayhem Festival 2012 Jul30

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Mayhem Festival 2012

by Reggie Edwards

Over the four year history of the Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival, it may be safe to say that there hasn’t been a year with a lineup as highly anticipated as this year.

Not only were Slayer and Motorhead playing the Main Stage but you had Anthrax supporting their highly-successful comeback album, Worship Music, The Devil Wears Prada fresh off the release of their first ever CD/DVD combo, As I Lay Dying playing in promotion of their upcoming release of Awakened, but the most anticipated aspect of the 2012 Mayhem Festival was probably Slipknot’s return to the U.S. for the first time since the 2010 death of bassist and founding member Paul Gray.

I started my day with a set from The Devil Wears Prada. I’ve been listening to these guys since high school and their last release, Dead Throne, blew me away. I couldn’t wait to finally see them live and I wasn’t disappointed in the least bit.

Next up for me on the day was legendary thrash metal band Anthrax. Besides Slipknot, Anthrax was on the top of my list of bands to see. I saw them at Rock on the Range and I was itching for more. It’s hard to believe these guys have been around for 30 years.

Joey Belladonna still moves around stage like he’s 20, Frank Bello is the most animated bassist I’ve ever seen, these guys are great performers and they sounded better than they ever have. I think we can look forward to another really strong run from these guys.

As I lay Dying was equally awesome. I loved the Main Stage rotation this year where As I Lay Dying and The Devil Wears Prada alternated opening the stage day by day.

As I Lay Dying’s set was an impressive one, definitely the right way to open up Main Stage action. They played a lot of the crowd favorites but they also blessed us with a sneak peak of their upcoming album, Awakened.

Usually when bands play a new song that’s unreleased, fans have a hard time getting into it. They’re known to just stand around and wait for the next song they know. It’s rare that a band plays a new one and the crowd goes insane and acts like they know it.

Needless to say there’s a certain energy when that does happen that you can’t put into words, you just know it when it happens.

Well, on this day, that did happen. Throughout Mayhem Festival this year As I Lay Dying have been playing a new song, “Cauterize,” and fans are eating it up and loving every minute of it.

After As I Lay Dying wrapped up an explosive set, it was time for what could be the most iconic three-band-finale to ever grace the Mayhem Stage- Motorhead, Slayer and Slipknot- a metal trinity of its own.

Motorhead blew us all away- Lemmy Kilmister sounds just as good as ever. They played a catalog of classics including “Overkill,” “Going to Brazil,” “Ace of Spades,” among others.

It almost gave me chills hearing the deep, growling voice of the legendary bassist come over the P.A.

Lemmy, I must admit, made me chuckle a few times with his banter with the crowd- “Don’t forget us, we are Motorhead, and we play rock and roll,” he told the capacity amphitheater crowd. “Do you want some more rock and roll? Good because were’ going to do some anyway!”

Definitely a good showman and the band hasn’t lost a beat over the years, that’s for sure.

After Motorhead blew us away with awesomeness, it was time for Slayer to drag us down to Hell and bring us back up.

Slayer is notorious for their lyrical content being associated with Satanism, anti-Christianity, Nazis, war and violence.

This is why I wasn’t surprised when their stage setup consisted of amps, speakers and flame throwers stacked in the shape of two giant upside-down crosses and the stage being covered in fire, looking like Slayer were surrounded in flames.

Pretty epic if I do say so myself.

They rocked the place and I never thought I’d think Slipknot would have a hard time following anyone, but Slayer definitely upped the anti after Motorhead.

Slipknot, I had bittersweet feelings about seeing. Being from Iowa myself, I have been a huge fan of the band for years. When Paul Gray died, I didn’t know if I wanted to see the band keep going because such a vital piece of the puzzle is forever missing. But when they announced their return, I just knew I had to be there.

Now, I must say, I was really disappointed when I heard the band had been clearing the backstage area before some performances and when virtually all photographers were denied photography access for the set, it was like a shot to the heart. I don’t feel like any of this was necessary at all.

All that said, they put one what could have been the best show of the night.

Of course they opened with “[Sic]” and “Eyeless,” and they did all of the favorites and hits with the exception of “Snuff” and “The Blister Exists.” Hell, they even brought out “Vermillion!”

One thing I found to be really cool was their performance of “Gently.” The lights went down, the band left the stage. The lights came up and what looked like snow was falling from the top of the stage. Corey Taylor walked somberly to center stage, looking down and the rest of the band followed from opposite sides.

With the snow falling, which, in literature, is a symbolism that somebody has died, it was almost like a remembrance of Paul Gray the way they did it. It was very cool to see.

They definitely brought their A-game to Mayhem Festival this year, fire, pyro, explosions and all.

It did seem as if they’d lost a little bit, some of the songs seemed slower and Corey Taylor’s voice scream seems to have lost a tad bit (watch footage of “Duality” from the Vol. 3 tour and then watch footage of it from this year’s Mayhem and you’ll see), but that doesn’t matter, the set was still spectacular and it was the best way to end Mayhem Festival.

One really heartwarming thing that caught my eye was something that happened after the Slipknot set. There was an army veteran in attendance who had been wounded in battle while rescuing others. He was in a wheel chair and could no longer walk.

Clown, Chris Fehn and other members of Slipknot pulled him up on stage afterwards and just hung out with him. It was really cool to see happen and I really commend Slipknot for doing this.

To view photos from Mayhem Festival click here