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Mayhem Fest: featuring Slayer, King Diamond, Hellyeah, and others

Date: 7/21/15
Venue: PNC Bank Arts Center, Holmdel, New Jersey
Report By: Rich Catino

As with most hard rock and heavy metal festivals across America, aside from say the variety at Rocklahoma, the demographic focused M3 and Monsters of Rock Cruise, or the daring ProgPower in Atlanta who from the start took a chance bringing over all the great European bands, the death of the Mayhem fest was inevitable. Like Ozzfest, Sounds of the Underground, and Summer Slaughter, Mayhem also suffered from being too one dimensional (aside from a few bands) featuring all extreme subgenres of metal; metalcore, scream, grindcore, death, etc. Music that almost completely lacks any kind of melody.

With that, outside of heavy weight headliners Slayer and King Diamond, aside from a Jungle Rot, one of the more high quality death metal names who have a grasp on groove and rhythms, or the solid hard rock delivery of female fronted Sister Sin (check out their newest album “Black Lotus”), Mayhem’s lineup lived up its name offering a whole lota screaming and yelling. And speaking of…Hellyeah are nothing more than a poor man’s second rate Pantera. Very overrated and why is Vinny Paul wasting his time? If that guy yelled or barked at me one more time, aside from ‘Moth’ where Chad (Gray) does some singing (and has a decent voice), the rest of the set sounded like one long song.

On the heels of releasing their latest album, “Repentless” (Sept 11), Slayer’s stage show was for the most part bare bones, focusing on a huge video screen which projected Satanic imagery like pentagrams, inverted crosses, album art, even bringing back the Slaytanic Wehrmacht. Opening the set with the new album’s title track falls in line with their formula for customary full throttle straight ahead thrasher (similarly in fashion to ‘Hate Worldwide’ which followed), was complemented by flashes of fire on stage. ‘Jihad’ is a proper addition to the set from time to time, shows Slayer’s ability for variety in arrangement, use of melody in the guitar where Holt gels well with King for these welcomed accenting leads. The quiet opening with clean guitars segues into a dark rhythmic pattern for ‘When The Stillness Comes’, kicks in for the ride out where the solo section would be. Images of the Slayer eagle crest hit the screen during ‘Implode’, followed by the much needed slower pacing of, melodic, classic ‘Mandatory Suicide’ about a soldier and war, with the Slaytanic Wehrmacht on screen in army helmet. Title track to their classic E.p. of the same name, ‘Chemical Warfare’, and ‘Ghosts Of War’ (one I’d like to hear more often live from “South Of Heaven”), keeps with the war theme. Overall, the sands of time only seem to be effecting the members greying beards. The intensity and evil artistry are still the elements which make up Slayer’s curb appeal.

No disrespect to Slayer, they are great at what they do, but unless you are on that level musical and visually, its impossible to follow up King Diamond. Having recently released a career spanning best of, “Dreams Of Horror” in 2014, a new lease on life following heart surgery, and an upgraded stage production, King Diamond was understandably a co-headliner. Judging by the crowd response, King was the reason why the majority attended Mayhem fest. As you can see from my pictures, the stage set included a glowing pentagram and inverted crosses, backdrops to look like one is inside a church, gargoyles, staircases on both sides of the drums, and props.

King sounded the best I have ever heard him, able to deliver and project the lows to ghostly falsetto highs he is known for. And yes, he does hit all those notes from the albums, portraying each character and voice. ‘The Candle’ pulled the listener into the painting and story of the debut album “Fatal Portrait”, and gave us ‘Sleepless Nights’ from the story of “Them”. Speaking of, grandma (in her wheelchair) came out for ‘Welcome Home’, and medley ‘Tea’ / ‘Digging Graves’ / ‘A Visit from the Dead’, interacting with King and taunting the crowd. Lighting is as important as staging for a King Diamond show, with cold blues for the ‘Eye Of The Witch’ (from “The Eye” album) which takes place during the French Inquisition. Deep reds colored the stage for ‘Evil’ with Kerry King joining King on the Mercyful Fate classic, preparing the crowd to ‘Come To The Sabbath’. Ending King’s devilish storytelling ‘The 7th Day of July 1777’ with ‘Black Horsemen’ spotlighted the players capabilities, progressive abilities, leaving the crowd wanting more as this fall will be the “Abigail” album performed in its entirety.


Hate Worldwide
God Send Death
War Ensemble
When the Stillness Comes
Mandatory Suicide
Chemical Warfare
Ghosts of War
Dead Skin Mask
Hell Awaits
South of Heaven
Raining Blood
Angel of Death

King Diamond:
The Candle
Sleepless Nights
Eye of the Witch
Welcome Home
Tea / Digging Graves / A Visit from the Dead
Evil (Mercyful Fate cover) (with Kerry King)
Come to the Sabbath (Mercyful Fate cover)
The Family Ghost
The 7th Day of July 1777
Black Horsemen
Insanity (outro tape)

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