Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Fest is an annual North American traveling summer metal music festival. This year’s headliners included Slayer, King Diamond, Hellyeah, and The Devil Wears Prada as the Victory Records stage held Whitechapel, Thy Art Is Murder, Jungle Rot, Sister Sin, Sworn In, Shattered Sun, Feed Her To The Sharks, Code Orange, and Kissing Candice. The first date of the tour was located at Sleep Train Amphitheatre in Chula Vista, CA. You can view Alternative Nation’s recap of the festival below. Interviews with artists from the event will be posted soon.
Chosen as the Coldcock Whiskey Band Winner, Kings of Carnage, a heavy metal act of Musicians Institute graduates and military veterans, warmed up the crowd on the cloudy San Diego day with a thrash, neo-classical blend. Easily the unforeseen highlight of the day, Code Orange fused the styles of hardcore punk rawness, modern metal riffage, and Swans-like drone for their compelling energetic performance. By emphasizing the melodies of metalcore with heavy metal tropes, Shattered Sun was capable of a tight set as the heat began to rise. Sworn In’s recent release, The Lovers/The Devil, proved to provide solid additions to their live presentation. Female-fronted Sister Sin brought diversity with a more hard rock execution.
To begin the triple threat of death metal, Jungle Rot’s vicious growls matched with lightning fast riffs struck fear into the swarming crowd. With more “core” characteristics, Thy Art is Murder and Whitechapel frontmen shared their humorous and intimidating traits respectively. Kissing Candice, drawing visual comparisons to Slipknot and Mushroomhead, brought the shock rock theatrics to the fest. Many may excuse the group for their mask gimmick, but the liveliness and intensity emitted by all five members boasted a contagious quality.
Perhaps the most mainstream of the main stage bands, The Devil Wears Prada dug into material from almost all their albums as well as the Zombie and Space EPs. The groovy Mudvayne/Pantera supergroup, Hellyeah, had a bit of a muddy mix during their performance but ended on a high note with hit-single “You Wouldn’t Know.” A big kudos to the one and only legend, King Diamond. A delightfully gothic backdrop set the mood for heavy metal and stunning falsetto vocals. The live premiere of their new title track, “Repentless,” served as a proper opener, while Slayer thrashed on. The middle of the set seemed to drag on a bit longer than necessary, but the “South of Heaven,” “Raining Blood,” and “Angel of Death” hat-trick kicked Southern California right where it matters.
As a whole, it is understandable that fan reception was mostly negative in regards to the quality and quantity of the lineup. When comparing to last year’s event, there were six less bands and two fewer stages this go round. I mostly agree with these opinions, yet I think it was a risky, commendable move of the organizers to showcase many up-and-coming groups. The inclusion of cult-classics such as King Diamond and Jungle Rot amongst the fresh ground-breakers Code Orange was my personal deal maker of this year’s Mayhem Fest. You can view pictures from many of the performances below, taken and edited by Nico Poalillo.