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LIVE! | Mayhem Festival 2012: Slipknot, Slayer, Motorhead, Anthrax

by Chris A.
– Senior Photojournalist —

July 24th, 2012 at Riverbend Amphitheater in Cincinnati, Ohio

Amazing. That pretty well sums up the 2012 version of Mayhem Festival. With hardcore monsters Slipknot headlining the tour, the fans flocked to Riverbend Amphitheater to turn out for the show. Slipknot did not disappoint as they devastated the capacity crowd at the venue, blowing them away with their syncopated non-stop light show, well-timed pyro and of course the red-suited, crazy costumes that are the bands trademarks. The performance was simply brutal as the crowd head banged and followed the lead of the band as they tried to match the intensity of the show. Slipknot is a band that has climbed the rock n’ roll ladder and it’s hard to say they are not at the pinnacle of the harder rock genre at this moment.

Adding to the mayhem were the kings of classic thrash metal, Slayer. Vocalist Tom Araya smiled broadly while singing “Disciple” as two huge inverted crosses, constructed from Marshall amp cabinets, were engulfed in flames. It was Slayer at its best as far as evil-looking sets and presentation go. It must be noted that Exodus guitarist Gary Holt, filling in for Jeff Hanneman did a spectacular job covering the “Slayer classics and more than held his own dueling with Kerry King.

If there was a highly anticipated performance of the day by the crowd it was from Motorhead. The iconic rock ‘n roll power-trio, oft credited as founding fathers of “heavy metal.” Despite performing early in the evening they were met by a large fired up crowd of Motorhead fans. Wearing his trademark custom leather cowboy boots and his hat with the cross cavalry sabers, Lemmy ripped through a rousing version of Bomber to open the show. Of course his highly distorted, Rickenbacker bass guitar thumped in the chest of everyone at the venue. With the recent success of the movie “Lemmy”, Motorhead’s getting deserved exposure that’s been a long time coming and yes, Motorhead is still louder than hell live.

Over on the second stage, another one of the “Big 4” bands, Anthrax, performed for their hardcore fans. While listed as a “main stage band” they opted to play the smaller stage in an effort to be closer to their fans. As always these headbangers from the East coast performed with an intensity and conviction that few bands can match, revving the crowd up into a frenzy. A surprise was Jason Bittner, of Shadows Fall filling in for an absent Charlie Benante In addition to Anthrax the Mayhem Festival second stage featured As I Lay Dying, The Devil Wears Prada, Asking Alexandria and Whitechapel. Asking Alexandria were the standout of the newer bands with great songs and a dynamic stage presence.

The Mayhem Festival proved to be a very popular and focused event that should be supported by metal fans all over the nation. In addition to great performances, the festival offered artists signings and meet and greet opportunities for fans. In addition there were a variety of vendors selling anything and everything rock n roll. It’s a big party and if you’ve never been, plan to attend next years festival. For more information on the Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival, visit