Posted by: pop-break | March 21, 2013

Garden State Headache: Mayhem (Festival) Unleashed

bobby olivier debuts a new column …

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As the summer festival season approaches, the Mayhem returns.

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Rockstar Energy’s Mayhem Festival, America’s largest touring metal extravaganza, has announced its lineup for summer 2013, summoning genre icon Rob Zombie back to the main stage as a headliner. Joining the veteran of all things metal, horror, gore and heads being chopped off on the big stage are returners Five Finger Death Punch and Mastodon — who have also graced the main stage before — as well as Mayhem newcomers Amon Amarth. [Check out Pop-Break’s interview with Rob Zombie]

Heading into its sixth year, Mayhem’s latest main stage foursome isn’t terribly surprising. Rob Zombie has the reputation and metal chutzpah to claim a spot in the spotlight whenever he pleases, as he did in 2010, along with 5FDP, who have become far more popular than I could have foreseen. I suppose being just mainstream enough to land radio play has helped the guys from Los Angeles. Mastodon, who were a little dull when they played the main stage in Mayhem’s maiden 2008 program, also maintain the longstanding respect of most metalheads and would never play anywhere else than the among the top billings.

With his unique, ridiculous and lovingly unstable sense of creativity, I expect Zombie’s closing performance to be memorable if nothing else: crazy videos, stage effects, a human sacrifice. You know, the usual.

Swedish death metal titans Amon Amarth are the wildcard here, cutting their Mayhem teeth in a tough spot on the card. The first band to take the main stage often plays to a half-packed venue, as stragglers wander into the area after baking in the parking lot sun all afternoon. Watching the earlier bands and waiting for one of those Metal Mulisha riders to flip his dirt bike can be exhausting. Nevertheless, considering their popularity across the pond, it’s somewhat amazing Amon Amarth, who has seemingly been around forever, hasn’t made it to Mayhem before.

Rob Zombie at The PNC Bank Arts Center in Holmdel, NJ. Photo: Bill Bodkin

Rob Zombie at The PNC Bank Arts Center in Holmdel, NJ. Photo: Bill Bodkin

Leading the dueling smaller stages out on the asphalt are Mayhem metalcore staples Machine Head and Finnish veterans Children of Bodom. Machine Head seems to play this festival every year and always gives a good show. Rounding out the well-known small-stagers are Job for a Cowboy, Behemoth and Emmure.

From top to bottom, Mayhem has steered clear of any big, hardcore acts this summer, favoring power over punk. I can’t say I’m a fan of the choices – I prefer the variety. In previous years, hardcore/deathcore acts such as Hatebreed, The Devil Wears Prada, Asking Alexandria, Norma Jean, Suicide Silence and more added some contrast to the long sweaty day in the parking lot, drenching myself in sunscreen and drinking enough Rockstar energy drinks to kill off the remaining wild panda population.

But this year, death metal was apparently the preference.

The Mayhem swings through Jersey twice this summer: Susquehanna Bank Center in Camden on July 19 and PNC Bank Arts Center in Holdel on July 23.

Here’s the full lineup:

ROCKSTAR ENERGY DRINK MAIN STAGE:

Rob Zombie

Five Finger Death Punch

Mastodon

Amon Amarth

JAGERMEISTER STAGE:

Machine Head

Job for a Cowboy

Butcher Babies

Battlecross

Huntress

MUSICIANS INSTITUTE STAGE:

Children of Bodom

Behemoth

Emmure

Born of Osiris

Motionless in White

Thrown into Exile

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