Festival Review: Mayhem Fest, July 15, Echo Beach

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The annual arrival of Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival generally means two things to me – an overly wordy tongue twister of a festival name and a lineup of bands that I generally don’t give a damn about. But this year was different; aside from the usual parade of interchangeable metalcore bands, two legends of heavy metal would be on the bill – Slayer and King Diamond were playing. All of a sudden, Mayhem Fest looked a lot more appealing.

And while the two headliners were really the only attractions for me, I did show up early enough to take in some of the atmosphere and catch a few of the others acts on the bill. Let’s break it down now band by band:

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Jungle Rot

I’ve always seen these guys as sort of a lower tier death metal band who never really stood out, but they’ve managed to distinguish themselves by sticking around as long as they have and seem to have had a renaissance of sorts over the last few years after signing with Victory Records. MetalSucks wrote a review of them a couple of years back referring to them as the kings of “dumb fat guy death metal” and while it may be a bit harsh to refer to their music as “dumb,” there is a certain straightforwardness to their tunes that makes it kind of fun to listen to. They put on an enjoyable set of chunky death metal and even managed to really get the crowd going for the last couple of songs with vocalist Dave Matrise telling the crowd, “Give yourselves a hand for waking up.”

Thy Art Is Murder

I was ready to brush these guys off with a dismissive one liner (“thy art is mediocre”) but they actually managed to charm me with their general Australian-ness. I was especially amused by the singer stopping mid sentence to smoke a joint that somehow appeared onstage.

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The Devil Wears Prada

Generic metalcore stuff that didn’t do all that much for me but they put on an energetic performance and the kids around me seemed to enjoy it so I’ll give them a thumbs up. Also, the band had some impressive beards all around. I don’t know about the name though guys. If you’re gonna name yourselves after a Meryl Streep movie, at least pick the one where the dingoes ate her baby. That one is way more metal

Kissing Candace

I didn’t actually listen to these guys but I walked by the stage they were on and the general vibe I got as I walked past was of a low rent Slipknot. With keyboards. Meh.

Hellyeah

More like Hell no. The worst band of the day. I did see a whole lot of people walking around wearing Hellyeah shirts during the day though, so the band must have their supporters and I have to admit I am genuinely curious what the appeal is. Does anybody actually like these guys or is their fanbase made up mostly of nostalgic Pantera fans who are just happy that Vinnie Paul’s got something going on? I do not see the appeal, though I did find singer Chad Grey’s inspirational/motivational speeches kind of entertaining and at times slightly reminiscent of Christian Slater from Pump Up the Volume so they’ve got that going for them.

King Diamond

The king! Easily the most entertaining set of the day, King Diamond led his band through a parade of hits. It was definitely odd and even seemed kind of wrong to have King Diamond playing in broad daylight  – midnight would have been far more appropriate but obviously city regulations and curfews make that impossible. He made the most of it regardless, at one point dramatically pointing and cringing away from the sun. “Can you make that disappear?” he asked, before moving on to the classic move of incorporating your song titles into the stage banter. “It’s so hot, it makes me thirsty … for some Tea.” Another highlight of his set for me (aside from pretty much every song) was all of the metal dudes in the crowd attempting to sing along with The King’s high pitched vocals. They couldn’t quite hit those notes, but kudos for trying.

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Slayer

After King Diamond’s theatrical set, Slayer actually seemed like a slight let down, but hey, it’s still Slayer and although Tom Araya continues to look more and more like Jerry Garcia, the band hasn’t mellowed much with age and still puts on an aggressive performance. And while they couldn’t match King Diamond’s elaborate stage setup, they did come armed with plenty of pyro and delivered everything you’d expect from a Slayer show.

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Posted on by Paul in Concerts

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