The day had finally arrived! The Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival was bearing down on Dallas, TX for the final stop of THE tour of the summer, and yours truly was there. Covering, interviewing, and generally soaking in the well, mayhem. There were a lot of bands on this bill, and I was on a mission to see three of them come hell or high water, and along the way I discovered a fourth in the happiest of accidents. Here’s how it all went down:
FIRST UP? HUNTRESS!!
I had the opportunity to interview singer Jill Janus just two weeks into the tour, and she told me how well it had been going. What she did NOT tell me was how kickass this band is live! Opening with title track “Spell Eater” off the debut album, and then launching into “Destroy Your Life”, I gotta be honest. I was there taking pictures, and it was all I could do not to rock out while doing so. Camera put away, I thoroughly enjoyed them ripping it up on “Zenith” and “I Want to Fuck You to Death” from new album Starbound Beast, which if you don’t own it already, get crackin’, because you’re missing out! “Eight of Swords” closed out the all-too brief set with ferocity, and I can’t wait for them to get back here in November on the Lamb of God tour. Jill stalks the stage like the lion does the gazelle, and Huntress set the bar pretty high at 1:30 in the afternoon.
UP NEXT? BUTCHER BABIES!!!
Without a doubt, the band I was looking forward to the most. Reports of insane circle pits, and the band laying waste to the Jagermeister Stage were in from every city, and they did not disappoint. Frontwomen Heidi Shepherd and Carla Harvey owned the stage, and they had every fan there eating out of their hands on “I Smell a Massacre”, “Magnolia Blvd.”, and “The Mirror Never Lies” from their debut album Goliath, as well as “Jesus Needs More Babies For His War Machine” from their first EP. Anyone who dismisses this band as a gimmick, or thinks that they can’t bring it because there’s “chicks” in the band is sorely mistaken. They whipped the crowd into a frenzy at 3:15 on one of the hottest days of the year, and not only made it look easy; they looked like they were having the time of their lives up there. They brought it, and brought it harder than some of the boys, trust and believe.
Since it was the last show, and he lives in the area, as a cool surprise they brought Danny Worsnop from Asking Alexandria out to sing “National Bloody Anthem” with them, and the crowd went even MORE batshit! Another one from the EP “Mr. Slowdeath” was up next, before they closed with a pair of Goliath songs, the title track, and “Axe Wound” (my personal favorite). These guys and girls love being out there and playing for their fans, and in an interview later, they said they were sad it was ending. Believe the hype, ladies and gentlemen. Every word.
BATTING THIRD, AMON AMARTH!!!!
Ahhh, my Vikings. Since 2008 when a friend first turned me onto them by giving me Twilight of the Thunder God I have been dying to catch these guys live, but something always got in my way. Well on this day, I would not be denied! With a massive Viking Longship center stage, Johan Hegg and company wove tales of Norsemen, Thor, Loke, and battles for Asgard in songs like “Destroyer of the Universe”, “War of the Gods”, and “Death In Fire”. Johan’s guttural growls rang throughout the Gexa Energy Pavilion, and their legions of fans ate it up. “The Pursuit of Vikings” off of 2004’s Fate of Norms has a riff that is just like the title suggests. It chugs along like it’s coming for you, and was a nice inclusion.
Johan also took a moment to thank everyone, from the staff to the other bands, to we the fans for coming out in the heat before giving us “Deceiver of the Gods” off the new album of the same name. This one really blew the roof off the place, and he quickly announced that they’d be back headlining in the winter. Thank the Gods, because a 30 minute set is not enough. Closer “Twilight of the Thunder God” is not only one of my favorites, but looking around, it’s clear I’m not alone in that aspect, as every single person around me was singing every single word.
COOL DISCOVERY: THROWN INTO EXILE
As I was waiting for Huntress, I stumbled upon this band on the Musicians Institute Stage. They had the unenviable task of going on at 1:10 in the afternoon and trying to get a crowd going. This just in…they did! About three songs in, they had a pretty fierce pit going, and they’ve been steadily winning people over with each tour stop. They sure made a believer out of me that day. And that’s what makes Mayhem Fest so great. There are so many bands that there’s something for everyone, and by hitting those side stages, you’re guaranteed to walk out of there with a great new band that you can’t wait to tell all your friends about. Singer Evan Seidlitz being nice enough to sign a CD for my son was just the icing on the cake of an awesome day of metal, and I can’t wait to do it all again next summer!