Zombie and pyro and Korn, oh my!: Mayhem Festival @ WRA 07.12.10


Heavy metal is a brutal beast of a musical genre. There’s loyal and dedicated fans, loud guitars, screamy and often angry vocalists and pyro, lots and lots of pyro. All of those things and more were on display when the Rockstar Mayhem Festival hit White River Amphitheater in Auburn last week.

The festival featured some of the bigger metal bands pounding out music today  (Lamb of God, Hatebreed, Korn, Rob Zombie along with plenty of relative fresh faces metal fans that made favorable impressions on metal fans (3 Inches of Blood, Chimera, Shadows Fall, Atreyu) which made Mayhem Fest an adequate heir to Ozzfest, which once was the Mecca of traveling metal tours. 

The nine-hour metal marathon included three stages and plenty of merch booths and beer gardens, which are the typical trappings of a summer music festival, filling WRA with a hard rock vibe for the entire day. Earlier in the afternoon the two side stages featured bands that performed back-to-back sets while motocross racers performed aerial stunts in the background. The stages took a bit out of Warped Tour’s playbook by having one band start immediately after another band finished on the opposite stage, leaving no gap between bands. The early highlight was easily semi-locals 3 Inches of Blood, who closed down the second stage area. The band’s updated Iron Maiden sound killed in a crowd of borderline hometown fans (the group is based out of Vancouver, B.C.)

On the main stage the headlining sets by Rob Zombie and Korn were sights to behold. Zombie came out in full metal force pushing his B-movie monster shtick onto an adoring crowd. There were massive robots, demons and loads of pyro. The video screens displayed images from The Munsters, naked anime women and horror movie blood and gore. It was an over-the-top metal spectacle and I loved every second of it.

Korn on the other hand were a bit less visually compelling but still represented metal well with their deeply dropped down guitars and Jonathan Davis’ growly screams. I used to be a big fan of Korn’s work (even their highly underrated MTV Unplugged album) but as I got older I grew out of the band’s angsty and angry sound. Plus, their records have really gone downhill quite a bit. I was surprised to see them headline over Rob Zombie but the set they performed hushed my criticism.

Mayhem Festival definitely filled the Ozzfest gap but it isn’t the only metal tour happening this season. Disturbed is touring with Avenged Sevenfold, Stone Sour and a few other modern metal titans and will be at White River Amphiteahtre Sept. 25.

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