My review of Mayhem Fest 2013 continues! Check out Part 1 here!
Finally, a band I had heard of and, more importantly, the metal inclined members of our group wanted to see. From the first song, it was obvious these guys had been doing this gig for two decades. Tight chord progressions, quality song construction and some good, old fashioned aggression made for my second favorite performance of the night. Plus, the lead singer commented we had the heart of lion as he pounded his chest in classic rocker style. The kind of music I imagine bikers would dig, Machine Head was worth hanging around for.
Score: 4 crusty leather jackets out of 5
Children of Bodom
The crowd was psyched for Children of Bodom but we had to use the potty, so we politely hit the loo and made our way to our seats under the great concrete roof of the Arts Center. Yes, friends. Seats. The young and bedazzled may like to stand around all day, but us over thirty types like a place to plant our keisters. Look it up. I’m sure there’s a Buzzfeed on this phenomenon out there somewhere. As a result, I’m giving Children of Bodom an incomplete as we got through one song before leaving to empty our bladders.
Nestled cozily in the comfort of our plastic chairs, we were psyched for what Amon Amarth had to offer. Large Viking ship prop where the drummer was set up? Awesome. Lead singer with a burly beard and long hair? Classic. Hailing from the only country where death metal truly matters? Yup, they’re Swedish. Sadly, the result was uninspiring, causing my brother, my girlfriend and I to leave our seats and grab some food. We then sat in the setting summer sun at a picnic table chomping on bad chicken fingers and worse hamburgers. With the faint sounds of guitar fuzz coursing through the outdoor arena, it was almost serene. Somehow, a discussion on Tori Amos erupted.
Score: 2 heavy metal versions of Cornflake Girl out of 5
We returned to our seats just in time for Mastadon, a metal name of real promise. The reality was worse than Amon Amart. Be it the effects of a long day in the sun or the constant “so same it’s scary” drone of the genre, I found myself cutting Z’s twenty minutes into the set. While I’m pretty sure I didn’t fully fall asleep, my sister’s boyfriend, an actual fan of this musical style, was caught snoozing. Despite an exceptional drummer, the rest of the band was flat, monotonous and fully unimpressive. My ears were ready for Parkway North and the long commute home.
Score: 2 cartoon sheep jumping cartoon fences out of 5
Five Finger Death Punch
FFDP’s set was fraught with issues. They opened with a knuckle busting song showing promise. Problem was, nobody could hear it. The only sound coming from the stage was screeching feedback from the speaker rack followed by silence. Only the sound of the monitors could be heard. The crowd grew restless. So what did lead singer Ivan Moody do? Kick over the monitors so the audience could hear something. Bad ass. When the audio recovered, Death Punch delivered the finest performance of the festival. Wicked leads, ferocious percussion and some memorable hooks cemented them as the only band from the show I’d pay money to hear again. It also didn’t hurt the set had some true variety to it, rare amongst the white noise of the other musicians. Hell, the man did an acapella number. Ben Folds would be proud. Finally, after searching all day, I found a band that made me believe metal could be more than raw aggression and makeup. Kudos.
Score: 5 kung fu death blows of hard rocking business out of 5
Before the final act of the night came out, I was surprised Zombie was only given 75 minutes to headline. My brother’s response? “He doesn’t have much more than that.” Sadly, he was correct. Rob Zombie has been riding the success of 1995’s Astro-Creep 2000 and 1998’s Hellbilly Deluxe for almost two decades. Pick up his greatest hits record, and that’s all you need to know of his entire catalog. Luckily for fans, Zombie’s live performances have been more about spectacle than the music, and let’s be honest, if you can’t rock out to Superbeast, you’re dead inside. Unfortunately, the old spook show is starting to show some age. The fireballs and confetti can no longer mask the fact Rob Zombie is pushing 50. It was almost a touch sad to see the old rock and roll ringleader breathlessly pant through Dragula and More Human Than Human. Can’t blame the guy. But as time moves on, bands need to move with it and the theatrics of the stage show can no longer mask the rust on the singer. Along with some head scratching filler that made the lack of content even apparent, Zombie’s set was an entertaining but slightly disappointing end to Mayhem Fest 2013.
Score: 3.5 “Hell Yeah’s”, smoke machines and fireball launchers out of 5