Live Review: Slipknot – San Bernardino, CA
Sun, 01 Jul 2012 09:00:19
"I'll make you this promise," declared singer Corey Taylor toward the end of Slipknot's triumphant and transcendent headline set at the Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival. "This is only the beginning".
Last night's "beginning" in San Bernardino was just as focused, ferocious, and fiery as the band's live debut in 1999. Once again, Slipknot arrived to change the face of music forever, and that feeling pervaded throughout the group's performance. For the uninitiated, their live show balances an otherworldly and ethereal scope a la Pink Floyd and the epic brutality of Metallica. Even that doesn't really do it justice though. You have to see Slipknot on Mayhem to believe it.
After a brooding "Iowa" intro, the white curtain covering the stage dropped through a haze of lights and shadows. Flames rose towards the back of the stage as Taylor stood in the center bathed in a red haze. Donning red coveralls nodding to the Iowa tour cycle, Slipknot ignited "(sic)" from their timeless first offering. The visuals on stage were brilliant and breathtaking, but the chops truly separate Slipknot.
Photos by Corey Soria of Slipknot in Mountain View, CA at Mayhem 2012
Joey Jordison's drumming flawlessly fired at light speed as precise double bass drove the assault. Meanwhile, M. Shawn "Clown" Crahan pulled out every demon in himself and the audience, matching Jordison's time percussively and punctuating it with perfectly placed baseball bat hits. Chris Fehn heightened the drum exorcism, while Sid Wilson's scratching squealed through with eerie psychosis. Craig Jones stirred up even more darkness on the stage right riser across from Wilson. Mick Thomson truly proved his guitar god status shredding through tight, tough, and taut riffs with instrumental prowess unmatched by his contemporaries. Meanwhile, Taylor remains the greatest frontman of this age, possessing each word with raw vitality that immediately transfixes.
"Eyeless" slid from terrifying guitar melodies into chopped and screwed soundscapes as the 25,000 people in attendance jumped like a choir of the damned to the refrain. "Sulfur" practically burned a hole through the earth as Thomson's note-perfect solo roared and Clown's riser elevated while he played. Taylor raised his fist victoriously mirroring a general in battle as Fehn and Clown held down a military drum stomp on "The Blister Exists".
"It's good to be back," Taylor smiled. The crowd couldn't agree more with him singing along to every word of "Wait and Bleed" and "Before I Forget". His sinister laugh fueled a mind-bending rendition of the epic throat-slasher "Disasterpiece", which destroyed on the engine of Thomson's grindcore riffing and Jordison's inimitable drumming. As they raged on, Clown and Sid rode the elevated riser up to the heavens holding on for dear life.
Photos by Corey Soria of Slipknot in San Bernardino at Mayhem 2012
One of the show's many unforgettable moments came during "Gently". Slipknot made it snow in Southern California in June as the guitar crescendoed into a battering bridge riff, while Taylor spilled out every inch of his soul. The song was still one of Slipknot's finest. "Vermillion" and "Pulse of the Maggots" evinced even more guitar and drum fireworks as "The Heretic Anthem" redefined the meaning of the word "heavy".
"You feel like going there with us tonight?" asked Taylor. "You think you got the gumption?"
Gumption abounded through "Psychosocial" whose riff is one of the catchiest since Pantera's "Walk". Before "Duality", Taylor spoke with a heavy heart saying, "One of the reasons we're here tonight is to celebrate the music of Paul Dedrick Gray. He's never gone from us".
He lived on in "Spit It Out" as the entire amphitheater sat down and then jumped up from the ground in unison and during "People=Shit" and "Surfacing". For the first U.S. show without Gray, Slipknot gave their brother a fitting tribute and gave the audience a night no one will ever forget.
Make no mistake about it. This is a new dawn for the greatest heavy metal band of the 21st century and as Taylor said before "Surfacing", "Hold on for dear life".
Were you there?
Make sure you get the band's retrospective Antennas to Hell on July 24…
See our interview with Taylor about Mayhem and Antennas to Hell here!
Win a pair of tickets to see Slipknot on Mayhem and a signed copy of Antennas to Hell here!