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Mayhem Festival proves its unique and unpredictable spirit

Luke Helker
Staff Writer

This year, the Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival celebrates its fifth birthday with one of the most solid, and yet, one of the most confusing lineups thus far in their career.

Having replaced Ozzfest as the premier metal festival in America, Mayhem Fest has been able to deliver five different, unique, and special lineups of fantastic and important bands.

The Mayhem Festival has always been diverse and slightly unpredictable, which makes it exciting.

This year’s lineup, while they received mixed reviews, is incredibly solid and has potentially opened the gates for a wider audience for future tours.

I, the Breather, of Sumerian Records, is beginning to make waves with their most recent release “Truth and Purpose,” which is an epic Christian metal-core powerhouse of a record.

I, the Breather’s performance might have won people over. They are heavy enough for some of the more straightforward metal kids and have enough breakdowns for the hardcore people.

Next I saw one of the heaviest bands around. Whitechapel stormed through their set like a pack of rabid tigers attacking and killing a whole herd of gazelle.

Their newest self-titled album was released earlier this year and the new songs sound absolutely amazing live. I saw them at the Electric Factory back in December and they sounded just as good, if not better, this time around since they were outside.

Next up we have Upon a Burning Body, a band that have already earned their stripes and proved that they can work a crowd, unlike half the bands on this tour.

Upon a Burning Body sounded amazing, playing a short set filled with mainly newer songs.

Shawn Spann of I, the Breather, screams out his lyrics.

After seeing As I Lay Dying, I got very excited for the new record and wanted to go back and rediscover some of their older material. “Cauterize” is a new song they released a short while back and is one of the best songs of their career, but to me, As I Lay Dying is the perfect 7 out of 10 band.

I really liked The Powerless Rise and I hope this new album is better.

Probably the biggest surprise for me came from French metalcore and Sumerian Records band Betraying the Martyrs. I heard their debut album a few of times and liked what I heard, but never expected to enjoy their show as much as I did.

They kick off their show with the bombastic and brutally heavy “Martyrs” and continue to be relentless throughout their set.

I was nearly blown away by just how heavy they were and how crazy their keyboard player/clean vocalist was.

They really put on a good show and I think they’ve tripled the size of their fan base. It was by far the surprise band of the summer.

Anthrax has found themselves in the limelight again and are getting much deserved attention thanks to their newest record. Their live show blew me away just as much as the album did.

Having never seen them before, I was star-struck seeing Scott Ian and Joey Belladonna right there in front of me.

Seeing Slayer allowed me to cross their name of the big four list. I have now seen all of the big four thrash bands, but out of all of them, I think Slayer was the worst.

They were still really good, but Slayer should never just be really good. Tom Araya practically looks like Santa Claus with his big beard and graying hair and Gary Holt certainly stepped up to the plate in order to fill in for Jeff Hanneman.

That being said, I was happy to finally see Slayer and hear those great songs played.

Thankfully this last band was not disappointing. One of the biggest, best, and most important bands in the last decade, Slipknot was absolutely amazing.

Playing a blistering set, they stormed through with little banter in between. My only complaint was Corey’s mix wasn’t perfect.

There was a little too much echo on the vocals, so with songs like “Wait and Bleed” and “Spit it Out” where the verses are close together, it sounded a little muddy, but overall, it wasn’t a big deal.

Slipknot has so many killer songs that they could have played for another hour and still would have some great songs leftover.

This was the closest I could ever come to seeing them in their Download 2009 performance.

This was truly a unique festival lineup. A lot of surprises, a lot of heritage acts, and a lot of questions concerning next year’s lineup.

I think every year has been very strong and I think whatever direction they decide to take will please a lot of people.