Here is my review:
It's that time of the year again! I have been to every single Mayhem Fest since it's inception. It's always a fun time and the 2011 edition was no exception.
It was a brutally hot day in Massachusetts. It hit the low 100's at one point in time, but it was all worth it. That being said, the show started with a thud. The Jager band this year was Deadseason from Maine. They were completely horrible. They sounded a bad Pantera cover band mixed with the clean vocals of a bad Killswitch Engage cover band. These guys really had no clue what they were doing on stage. I mean don't have high expectations for the Jager band, but I must say this is the only time in my four years going to this where the Jager band was bad.
Straight Line Stitch was up next and they were even worse. Their singer is unholy awful. She can't sing, she can't scream, and she is annoying as shit on stage. As soon as their first song started, I knew I was in for an awful performance. The instruments sucked too, generic-ass metalcore that didn't go anywhere. The singer wasn't even nice to look at. They had nothing going for them and are one of the absolute worst band I've ever seen.
Finally the first worthwhile band of the day, Red Fang, hit the stage. Red Fang played an energetic set and their brand of sludge/rock provided a nice-change of pace opposed to the other bands on the bill. Sadly, most of the crowd wasn't into them. I met them later in the day and they were a good group of dudes, although they did seem a bit bummed that not too many people were into them.
All Shall Perish followed. It was my third seeing them and I was stoked to them again. Their new record, This Is Where It Ends, is currently in my top 10 of the year. They still put on a good show, but this was the weakest of the three performances I've seen. The set didn't really pick up until they played "There Is No Business To Be Done On A Dead Planet". Their set was quite enjoyable after a bit of a rough start with the first couple of songs.
Kingdom Of Sorrow played next and they were awesome. Jamey Jasta brings the same energy and amazing stage presence he has with Hatebreed. Seeing him play with sludge legend Kirk Windstein was just great. I had them before when they first started, they have greatly improved live since then. They have found their identity as a band and become a lot more cohesive in a live environment. The one misstep was they blew out the PA during "Free The Fallen", but that didn't derail the set. Kingdom Of Sorrow was one of the best side stage bands of the day.
Suicide Silence hit the stage next. I am so fucking sick of seeing this band. They aren't bad, but I have seen them five times and I'm not even a fan of their music. I have pretty much said everything there is to be said about their live show before (good energy, their vocalist is kind of a douchebag, their live show is all over the place in terms of quality, their songs can kind of bleed together blah blah blah) . They were better this go round then they were at Rock and Shock last October, but they still were still just average.
Massachusetts's own Unearth came on after that. They put on an awesome show for the hometown crowd. You could tell they were stoked to be back home and the whole band seemed extremely appreciative. Justin Foley from Killswitch Engage did a really good job filling in on drums for this tour. He hit the older material flawlessly, as well as the new stuff that he recorded with the band. I would have liked to have seen one more song from the new record, Darkness In The Light , but the setlist was still damn good. I want to see Unearth headline at some point (this was my second time seeing them and the first time was also a support set) so I can them play longer. They are a ton of fun live and they always give it 110% live.
It was Machine Head's first day as a side stage headliner yesterday(they were on the main stage for the first two weeks of the tour) and they destroyed. This was my second time seeing Machine Head and it completely blew the doors off the first time I saw them. Robb Flynn sounded awesome, as did the whole band. The crowd was going absolutely nuts throughout their set. The crowd really didn't go that nuts until Unearth came on. But once it started to cool down a bit, The crowd's got alot crazier and Machine Head's set proved that. They did have to cut a song, which kind of sucked. Still Machine Head put one of the most impressive shows of the day.
In Flames was the other side-stage headliner and they were fucking fantastic. Although In Flames's more recent studio material pales in comparison to their older stuff, their live show is still awesome. The songs they played (for the most part) are no where near their best, but all of their songs come across so much better live. Anders Friden is one of the funniest frontmen in metal. He was cracking jokes the whole set and had the whole crowd laughing their asses off. In Flames closed out the side stages with the best performance (out of the side stage bands.)
Trivium opened the main stage and what a surprise, they sucked! I will say their live performance has slightly improved since the last time I saw them. I only saw the second half of their set because I bought a Gatorade and relaxed for a few minutes before I headed up to the lawn.
The number one reason I attended, thrash legends Megadeth hit the stage after that. They exceeded my insanely high expectations. I am actually kind of sad it took me this long to see them. Megadeth put on one of the best live performance I have ever seen. Dave Mustaine sounded perfect. He sounded exactly the same as he does on record. The band was perfect too. They hit everything, not even one mistake. That is extremely impressive considering the speed and complexity of Megadeth's songs. Chris Broderick is the best guitar player I have seen play live. Seeing him nail the solos on tracks like "Hangar 18", "Peace Sells" and "Holy Wars" was jaw-dropping. If you haven't seen Megadeth live, do it ASAP. Amongst the top five performances I have ever seen for sure.
The other Massachusetts band on the bill, hard rockers Godsmack, played next. I haven't listened to Godsmack on a regular basis since I was 13 or 14. My expectations were pretty low considering I'm not really a fan. To my surprise, Godsmack was actually very good. I don't know if it was the hometown crowd, but Godsmack put on a high-energy, fun, show. They had a pretty cool duel drum solo/ song jam near the end of the set was a unique and interesting break in the action. Godsmack highly exceeded my expectations.
Disturbed, on the otherhand, was a letdown. I have grown out of Disturbed in the past few years , but their live show at Mayhem 08 was great, This time around... not so much. They weren't awful, they just weren't anything special. David Draiman's voice is strained to shit. The various noises he made during "The Game" sounded awful. I left about 3/4 of the way into their set to beat the traffic. Disturbed was barely above average and should definitely take that hiatus that has been heavily rumored recently.
Another Mayhem has past and it was another fun year. A lot of quality performances amongst a few duds. If Mayhem continues to produce solid lineups, I will continue the tradition of going every year. I've had nothing but great experiences at Mayhem during it's four year run and I hope it can continue to remain a fun festival for years to come.
3/14 Dropkick Murphys
4/10 At the Gates/Converge