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  • Live Review: Korn and Rob Zombie — San Bernardino, CA

    Mon, 12 Jul 2010 06:56:14

    Live Review: Korn and Rob Zombie — San Bernardino, CA  - Korn and Rob Zombie put on some of the best shows of their respective careers at the first date of the <i>Rockstar Mayhem</i> festival and ARTISTdirect.com editor and <i>Dolor</i> author Rick Florino chronicles in this exclusive…

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    The Korn and Rob Zombie headlined Rockstar Mayhem Festival could've been a monster movie.

    Korn's like the realistic, heady psychological thriller a la Se7en or Silence of the Lambs, while Rob Zombie's show is Frankenstein, Two Lane Blacktop and House of 1000 Corpses all rolled into one unforgettable demon freak nightmare.

    Make no mistake about it; this is the ultimate rock 'n' roll package this summer and a blockbuster event in its own right. Forget Eclipse, The Last Airbender and whatever else is taking up space on the big screen, Mayhem is more cinematic than anything in theaters at the moment.

    Back in 1999, Korn and Zombie shared the stage on the much-heralded Rock Is Dead tour, however, they both managed to up the ante for Mayhem. Saturday's kick-off date in San Bernardino saw both acts at the height of their respective powers. Korn embraced the demonically cathartic groove that defined their early sound, while heightening its on-stage effect via the most elaborate stage show in their history.

    "Uber-time" from the band's latest masterpiece Korn III — Remember Who You Are filtered through the San Manuel Amphitheatre and as soon as its dreamy headtrip ended, a curtain fell to reveal a full-blown oil refinery replicated on stage, complete with massive flaming towers and mock-drilling equipment. Korn literally brought everyone back home to Bakersfield with this mind-blowing setup.

    The first single from Remember Who You Are, "Oildale," raged with an elegantly constructed hammering groove. James "Munky" Shaffer served as the sonic tour guide for Korn's hometown on stage. He summoned each chorus naturally, letting the music flow out of him and overpower the crowd as he commenced a never-ending headbang and continued ripping while lying on the ground. Shaffer remains a showman and true artist, tearing through each song with every fiber of his being, and the proof is in the wall of sound he creates. Reggie "Fieldy" Arvizu's bass playing remained just as fiery as the oil field behind him, while Ray Luzier pounded out pure percussive perfection.

    Jonathan Davis transfixed the entire audience from the orchestra to the top of the lawn. He exploded during the awe-inspiring new cut "Pop A Pill." A demented rhythm snapped into Davis's resounding chorus, and then his clean break in the middle crept inside the psyche of all listeners within earshot. Another Remember Who You Are song "Let the Guilt Go" could be the heaviest funk song ever written. There's a jammy bass line-riff combo that galloped alongside the rhythm, while Davis screamed and sang. The latest tracks were meant for the stage, and it was immediately evident. Davis's screams sounded utterly fierce and he managed to burrow into minds with how goddamn real and cathartic his on-stage exorcism was.

    Flames burst all around the band during an incendiary and haunting "Falling Away From Me" while the "Did My Time" and "Freak On a Leash" combo pummeled endlessly. The hometown crowd went certifiably apeshit during "Blind," "Shoots and Ladders" and "Clown." Seeing Korn's world surrounding them, the classics felt bloodier and more brilliant than ever before, while the new material brought everything to another level.

    Rob Zombie's show was also the best of his legendary career. He invaded the stage from inside a giant robot while screens behind him showcased spinning pentagrams for "Superbeast." Fueled by Joey Jordison [Slipknot, Murderdolls], Zombie's classics and new material reached heights of raw brutality that few bands in the genre still achieve. Jordison combined an epic Keith Moon power with a Pete Sandoval-style precision, speeding up "Superbeast," while bashing away with charisma and charm.

    Zombie remains one of the most enigmatic, engaging and entrancing frontmen to pick up a mic. During a supercharged "Scum of the Earth," he ran across the front of the stage screaming out the lyrics with lung-bleeding bombast. During "Living Dead Girl" he weaved in and out of spotlight-wielding robots, while carrying the song's timeless hook to oblivion and back. As a filmmaker, he knows how to give a good show, and he does it better than ever on Mayhem. A giant old school robot danced center stage during "More Human than Human" as Zombie stirred up the night's most dancing—and perhaps the most ever for a metal fest.

    More Satanic robots flanked our fearless ringleader as he brandished a gigantic cross during "Demonoid Phenomenon" and John 5 ripped a screeching lead. Piggy D's deadly bass carried it all home. "Sick Bubblegum" and "Mars Needs Women" held their own alongside classics like "Thundkerkiss '65" proudly, especially with this deadly tight crew of Cowboys From Hell at the helm. Joey blasted out an impenetrable drum solo after "Corpses" while John 5's solo spot rendered the audience speechless. "Werewolf Women of the SS" lit up the stage, especially after the hilarious Zombie-directed trailer introducing it, and "Dragula" drove it all home to heights of rock 'n' roll legend.

    Five Finger Death Punch stepped up their game immensely and managed to carve their own niche alongside the legendary headliners. They brought their very own sonic Apocalypse Now for almost 40 minutes. A curtain dropped to reveal the word "War," before opening up to a stage that looked like the outside of a prison. "Burn It Down" from War Is the Answer went off like a howitzer. Five Finger Death Punch's stage show was the perfect meeting point between Antichrist Superstar-era Marilyn Manson, Tool and Pantera.

    Vocalist Ivan Moody was this War's most dangerous general. He fired off one infectious hook after another never missing a note. Lights flickered all around the band and smoke arose from the stage, as he crooned out the incredible melody on "Hard to See." Zoltan Bathory and Jason Hook blasted leads and riffs back and forth in tandem as a raw guitar assault. Jeremy Spencer (drums) and Matt Snell's (bass) rhythm section continued that charge on "No One Gets Left Behind" and "The Way of the Fist."

    Moody's talents shined immensely in the packed amphitheatre. He was born to play to millions and he proved it through his charismatic delivery on "Bad Company" and "Never Enough," while a surprisingly intimate performance of "The Bleeding" showed every facet of his talent.

    Lamb of God rounded Mayhem out with a controlled chaos like only they can conjure. "The Passing" burst into "In Your Words" as the band's patented metallic steamroll sparked the most massive pits of the day. No one in metal sounds as possessed as Randy Blythe and he ravaged through earth-shattering renditions of "Set to Fail" and "Laid to Rest," as a screaming crowd chanted along. He harnessed a kinetic punk energy during "Black Label" that ended it all with a natural bang. No one batters like Lamb of God.

    Zombie made a good assessment of the entire evening. He jested, "We're assholes that's why we're here if we were all nice pleasant and clean we'd surely be somewhere else."

    Especially as the final chords of Korn's "Got the Life" screeched into the surrounding desert, there's no place I'd rather be…

    Here's to Korn unseating Eminem at #1 on Billboard this week for Korn III — Remember Who You Are how sick would that be?

    —Rick Florino

    Check out our video interview with Munky below!

    Who wants to see Korn unseat Eminem at #1? Were you at Mayhem?

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    Tags: Korn, Rob Zombie, Five Finger Death Punch, Lamb of God, Hatebreed, In This Moment, Norma Jean, White Zombie

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