Live Review: Slipknot and Slayer at the Rockstar Mayhem Festival
Mon, 02 Jul 2012 12:11:54
Slipknot and Slayer both constructed astonishingly bloodthirsty sets at the Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival's kick-off in San Bernardino this past Saturday.
As the sun went down, Slayer delivered an uncompromisingly devastating display that spanned their revered catalog. Once the curtain hit the ground, the band simply slaughtered the audience with "Disciple" from God Hates Us All.
Guitarist Kerry King has been a revolutionary riff master since the day his band began, doling out classic airtight thrash with unmatched speed and precision. His right hand assaulted the strings as fast as a Manny Pacquiao knockout. As the heaviest of "The Big 4", Slayer still devoutly decimate harder and faster than any of their historical contemporaries.
Flames burst from two gigantic upside down crosses made of Marshall amps as well as a massive Slayer "Eagle", and singer and bassist Tom Araya fiercely ripped through lyrics with speedy demonic savoir fare. Dave Lombardo is a reason countless kids learn the drums, and it was plain to see as he shifted from double bass wizardry into groove ferocity. Gary Holt offered the perfect counterpoint to King too, rounding out the sound viciously.
Fully bearded and immortally intense, Araya resembled the Greek God Poseidon as he impressively tore through "War Ensemble" driven by King's flawless ripping on the solo. The guitar god's tapping sharpened "Die By the Sword" with an eerie edge, while fire shocked the senses on "Hate Worldwide".
Araya asked, "You guys like this freedom of coming together and having a real good time? You have to protect that freedom. Freedom comes at a price. This is 'Mandatory Suicide'!"
Holt's massive string bend on the lead was staggering enough to crush enemies. Then, "Altar of Sacrifice" and "Jesus Saves" steamrolled right into the infectious psychosis of "Seasons in the Abyss" which took on a dreamy darkness live. The closing triumvirate of destruction "Angel of Death", "South of Heaven", and "Raining Blood" gave further proof that there's no one like Slayer, merging faster-than-hell riffing with uncanny hooks. If you haven't seen Slayer, you really haven't fucking lived…
The same could be said for the evening's closer. For their first United States performance since the tragic passing of bassist Paul Gray, Slipknot unleashed a show that encompassed every facet of their inimitable mythos. Draping the stage with a white curtain, ominous spotlights highlighted the outlines of the members as "Iowa" piped through the night. Once the covering dropped, the band stood completely ready for war.
A true icon, drummer Joey Jordison perfectly powered through "(sic)" and "Eyeless" with death metal intensity as DJ Sid Wilson and sampler Craig Jones inserted textures and scratching that could've been lifted right from a classic horror film score. Chris Fehn bashed the kegs on the side of the stage vigorously as M. Shawn "Clown" Crahan worked the audience like some divinely dangerous ringmaster, punctuating the violence of "The Blister Exists" and "Sulfur" percussively and screaming into the microphone hellishly at all the right moments. Mick Thomson's soloing on "Pulse of the Maggots" and "Vermillion" was brutally jaw-dropping. The guitarist stands out as one of the best alive today, and he continually proved it during the fierce bridge riff on "The Heretic Anthem".
Frontman Corey Taylor oscillated like a switchblade from the eerie psychedelic elegance of "Gently" to the battering brilliance of "Disasterpiece". He remained undeniably pristine on the stadium-size hooks of "Psychosocial" and "Duality", while driving the hammer down on "People = Shit" and "Surfacing". Taylor has the power to draw tears or make 25,000 people get down on the ground and jump for "Spit It Out". He's one of the best singers alive, and, for shows like this one, Slipknot will be remembered as one of the greatest and most groundbreaking bands in history period. [See our longer review of Slipknot here!]
Earlier in the day, Anthrax stomped through a hair-raising set comprised of classics like "Caught in a Mosh" and "Indians" and modern brain-bashers like "Fight 'Em Till You Can't". Scott Ian and Rob Caggiano never stopped moving while riffing and rocking with uncontainable energy. Their interplay proved raw, real, and righteously amazing. Meanwhile, Joey Belladonna's voice could've raised the zombies from "Fight 'Em Till You Can't" as could Frank Bello's bass. At the center, Jason Bittner's bombastic beats practically split the earth.
Asking Alexandria stuck an impeccable balance between modern gut-busting thrash and swagged out cock rock. Frontman Danny Worsnop was born to sing in front of arenas packed with screaming girls throwing their underwear at him, and it was instantly apparent as he strutted across the stage confidently belting out "A Lesson Never Learned". Guitarist Ben Bruce shredded with the best of them on "Mort et Dabo" as the band blanketed the sound with gnashing industrial grit—definitely a standout during a day of standouts.
Kicking off the main stage, The Devil Wears Prada brought pure fire as Motörhead laid waste to the wasted with "Ace of Spades" and "Overkill".
Boasting a record-breaking number of attendees, Mayhem once again illuminates just how crucial heavy music is and always will be.
Were you there?
For more Slipknot see our Five Reasons We Can't Wait for KNOTFEST piece, latest interview with Corey Taylor, and live review of Mayhem's kick-off in San Bernardino.
Win a pair of tickets to see Slipknot on Mayhem here!