Mayhem descended on Atlanta’s Aaron’s Amphitheatre Tuesday afternoon. The traveling metal festival has become something of a fixture on Atlanta’s summer calendar scene since its inaugural visit in 2008. Last year, they packed the bill with the likes of Slipknot, Slayer, Motorhead and Anthrax, making this year’s lineup a bit of a step down. Rob Zombie is a great name, but he seems too busy making horror films these days rather than focusing on hard hitting metal. On the plus side, Five Finger Death Punch is definitely a band on the rise, and it is great to see hometown boys Mastodon highlighting the main stage.
The afternoon edition of Mayhem was stacked with metal bands still making a name for themselves. Bands that warmed up the boiling hot crowd included the likes of Battlecross, Emmure and Butcher Babies. Sadly, the BB ladies seemed to have worn more than just pasties over their nipples on the Mayhem tour.
Our day started at 5pm with Machine Head. The Oakland, California quartet has seen a degree of success in their decade plus as a band. Their 2007 album The Blackening was afforded a Grammy nod while their most recent studio effort 2011’s Unto the Locust moved 3 million records around the globe. The boys of Machine Head played a hard hitting set. Crowd surfing bodies hurled over the barricades in staggering numbers.
Hailing from Finland, The Children of Bodom seemed to draw a flock of metal lovers to the Musician’s Institute Stage. Their latest album Halo of Blood by the grim reaper enthusiasts contains all those racing guitars, guttural growls and manic drums you know and love. While they may not be household names in the States, The Children of Bodom are rock royalty in Finland. They are one of the countries’ best selling artists of all time with their last three albums debuting at number one on the Finnish album charts.
Lead singer Alexi “Whildchild” Laiho has an interesting intensity onstage, and he is a bad ass on the guitar. He frequently pulled back from the microphone to abuse the ax. Bodom have a great sound, and it makes you wonder why all that Finnish success hasn’t translated to Stateside yet.
Continuing on the international smorgasbord of metal, Amon Amarth brought the death metal on a Viking ship from Sweden. I kid you not, there was a very large Viking ship washed up on Lakewood’s main stage. Fredrik Andersson’s drum kit was setup on the bow and other band members took turns climbing the stairs for their Leonardo DiCaprio “King of the World” moment. It was a little bit goofy and a little bit cool which kind of sums up the band. That Viking persona spills over into their lyrics and their look. Hey if you want to be a Viking, that’s cool. Just don’t get mad at me when I make fun of your pointy hat.
They are touring in support of their new album Deceiver of the Gods which was released last month. They gave the crowd a taste of the new work when they dug into “Deceiver of the Gods.” They hopped around their catalog, serving up “War of the Gods,” “Destroyer of the Universe” and “The Pursuit of Vikings” among others.
I have to say Mastodon was the band I was most looking forward to when I first saw the Mayhem line-up. Over the past thirteen years, they’ve been a staple on the Atlanta rock scene though I had yet to experience their unique brand of sludge metal. They are still touring in support of their 2011 release The Hunter though they are hard at work on their sixth studio album which we should see surface sometime in 2014.
They may not have the most elaborate stage design or been the hardest hitting rockers at Mayhem, but Mastodon did the Atlanta faithful proud with their forty-five minute set. They started things off with a rousing “Black Tongue” then proceeded to rattle off six other tracks from The Hunter over a ten song set. The old school fans may have been a bit disappointed in the lack of variety, but the new album is a solid effort so the nearly cover-to-cover set couldn’t have left many wanting.
The highlight of the day was definitely Five Finger Death Punch. The Los Angeles group, named from classic martial arts cinema, unleashed the fury on the Atlanta crowd. Vocalist Ivan Moody was a character on stage. He capped the set by throwing the microphone into the crowd. Nice souvenir, buddy. He led a sing-a-long to “Far From Home.” At one point during the set, he pulled a whole group of kids onstage in a kind of impromptu field trip. The f-bombs and shit rained throughout his speech, and he even had the kids give a double-fisted middle finder salute to the crowd. Where are their parents? I hope no one in the audience was with DFCS.
While that was a questionable moment, he did reveal a set of dog tags he wore for a fallen soldier whose life was cut short in Iraq. The last thing on the soldier’s iPod was Five Finger Death Punch so the band took a moment to dedicate their cover of “Bad Company” to all the soldiers out there protecting out country.
5FDP are a crazy looking bunch. Bassist Matt Snell looks like he has a bird’s nest growing in his beard. Guitarist Zoltan Bathory’s dredlocks look like Medusa snakes flailing around throughout the set. Drummer Jeremy Spencer even came out dressed as the devil midway through the set to launch into a hellacious drum solo.
The band’s latest album, The Wrong Side of Heaven & The Righteous Side of Hell v.1, actually released yesterday. It was the perfect excuse to feature a couple tracks from the new effort in “Lift Me Up” and the previously mentioned “Drum Solo.” Strangely enough, those were the only cuts that made the eleven song set. Regardless, the band played with fantastic energy, letting the metal coarse their veins.
Where is Rob Zombie you ask? Well he was technically there — at least I assume he was since they were setting up the stage for him after 5FDP. For some reason, we weren’t among the approved outlets to photograph his set so our policy has always been that we don’t give free press to artists who aren’t interested in it. Truthfully, the bands we saw put on a hell of a show so as Aerosmith would say, we don’t feel like we missed a thing. Sorry Robbie.
The 2013 Mayhem Festival may not have been the All-Star metal extravaganza that 2012 was, but it had a lot to offer. I loved seeing our local Mastodon rubbing elbows with metal’s elite. Five Finger Death Punch showed they are ready to take the next step as the ambassadors of metal.
> Five Finger Death Punch Mayhem Atlanta Setlist
Under and Over It
Burn It Down
Hard to See
Lift Me Up
Far From Home
> Mastodon Mayhem Atlanta Setlist
Dry Bone Valley
Octopus Has No Friends
Curl of the Burl
Blood and Thunder
> Amon Amarth Mayhem Atlanta Setlist
Destroyer of the Universe
The Pursuit of Vikings
War of the Gods
Deceiver of the Gods
Death in Fire
Twilight of the Thunder God
> Children of Bodom Mayhem Atlanta Setlist
Halo of Blood
Hate Crew Deathroll
Everytime I Die
Silent Night, Bodom Night
In Your Face
> Machine Head Mayhem Atlanta Setlist
Ten Ton Hammer
Aesthetics of Hate