Archive for the Concert Reviews Category

CI Records X-Mas Show!

Posted in Concert Reviews on December 18, 2013 by lukesreviews1014

Last Sunday I went to the Lancaster County Convention Center to check out one of the CI Records Christmans shows. Evert year, CI Records hosts two shows that showcase some of the finest and fastest rising bands around the area and around nation. This year’s bill included many hardcore icons including the ever-growing letlive from California, the conceptually unique group Defeater from Boston, and hardcore powerhouse Every Time I Die from Buffalo, NY. The show was also headlined by August Burns Red, a fitting conclusion for a show in their hometown. The other CI Records Christmas Show is on December 29th at the Chameleon Club and features many more local acts including  ConQuest, Beneath the King, Armory Infirmary, Gladiators, Amateur Theory (who I thought stopped playing shows, but I guess not so check them out because they’re amazing), and Albert React. The show will also have Carousel Kings headlining.

When I went to the show, I came late and missed out on some of the local openers like The Road t Milestone, One Year Later, and Code Orange Kids. They’re great bands and I’ve seen them before at other local shows around the Lancaster area before. I went to the concert with a friend and we got there just as the Code Orange Kids had finished their set and were getting ready for letlive. I’ve been a huge fan of letlive for a long time now and I wouldn’t miss any opportunity to see them live. They’re exciting unpredictability is incredibly captivating and dangerous that you can’t help but fall in love with them. They played a few tracks from their newest release and included some classic cuts from Fake History including “Muther.” The best part of the whole show was that Jason (singer) had recently had surgery and his arm was in a sling. So here’s a man already notorious for having no boundaries on stage; running and jumping around and practically killing himself onstage from the sheer intense emotion of the music and then add the sling, which of course didn’t stop him at all. It was very cool to watch him go nuts on stage and always will be.

Next we have Defeater, one of the first more modern hardcore bands that I fell in love with (when I say modern I mean post-Refused hardcore acts that have come around in the past decade) and hadn’t gotten a chance to see live yet. I missed them when I went to the warped tour this season, which  was very regrettable, but I was glad to have redeemed myself by seeing them this past weekend. What I love about this band is that they have an over-arching concept that gets broken down with each record, but still translates beautifully. I can’t think of another band that incorporates a concept into their sound in the same way as this band either. The concept itself isn’t even all that complicated (not like Coheed and Cambria), but the deliverance of the music and lyrics on each record is so fueled with the emotions that I don’t think it would have nearly the same effect if performed any differently. Going into the show, I admittedly was a little skeptical of how the concept would translate to the live show. I assume they wouldn’t play an entire record front to back, which they didn’t and I was glad about, but i wasn’t sure of what would happen. They ended up playing songs from albums all across their catalog including the newest record Letters Home. I realized right then and there that a lot of their songs could be taken out of context from the albums concept and allow themselves to be played just like any other song and still have the same effect, which to me speaks volumes about the talent of this band. The softer guitar parts held everyone’s breath while the drums were absolutely relentless. Really great show and I was so thrilled to have finally seen them.

Next up is Every Time I Die, easily the best band on that bill with the largest back catalog of any of the aforementioned groups. They’re at  point where they simply don’t play bad shows because they are all greatest hit sets. Tracks like “Wanderlust” and “Werewolf” ignite the crowd like no other and the band themselves are extremely tight. They were also incredibly heavy that night. I had seen them twice before on previous warped tour sets, but they just sounded 10 times heavier that night, almost as if they were Lamb of God. The band also played a brand new track that they had only been playing for about a week called “Thirst,” a short bout of hardcore fury that was very well-received. I already can’t wait for the new record. Their set was spanned across their whole catalog and didn’t have a dull moment. It was easily the best show of theirs that I have seen and I’m confident that they will just get better as a live act.

Finally, we close the show with the hometown heroes playing on their own turf, August Burns Red. Now before that show, I wasn’t the hugest fan of this band. Don’t get me wrong, I think they’re amazing, but I have a much stronger love for the other three bands that have not been matched with many other bands in their respective genres. That being said, I was completely blown away by ABR’s performance. From the moment they took the stage until their final note, I was completely hooked and couldn’t wait to get home so that I could stay up all night and listen to all their records (which I did). I forgot how good their guitar harmonies were and being a drummer I’ve been here long enough to realize that Matt Greiner reigns as the king drummer in Lancaster. That whole band is extremely talented and it was something I knew, but didn’t fully realize until seeing them live. It just clicked for me and I really loved their show. They finished their set and then came back to play two of their Christmas tracks that they recorded (they have a whole album of christmas songs that they recorded and made very heavy with no shortage of killer breakdowns). The band played “Frosty the Snowman” and “Carol of the Bells” while Jake Luhrs (singer) was throwing presents out into the crowd.

Twas a great show through and through. I enjoyed every second of it and can;t wait for next year’s show.

Luke Helker


Meshuggah @ The TLA 2/14/13

Posted in Concert Reviews on February 17, 2013 by lukesreviews1014

Guess how I spent MY Valentines day?!?!

I traversed down to Philly to have my mind blown in ways I never thought were possible until now. A couple friends and I went to see Meshuggah play at the Theater of Living Arts (otherwise known as the TLA) with Animals as Leaders and Intronaut supporting. After the grueling car ride down through rush hour traffic, we made it to the venue and eagerly awaited the magic that was about to take shape on stage.

The first band to hit the stage were Intronaut, a century media band, which is somewhat surprising because most band on that label are either melodic death metal or power metal. They have recently been gathering bands that are more progressive and dare-I-say, more “djent” (ie: Monuments, Jeff Loomis, Vildhjarta, and TesseracT). I had heard of the band, but never listened to them before, but I thought they were fantastic. The guitar work and the vocal harmonies between Sacha and Dave were stellar and the rhythm section was absolutely ridiculous. Joe is a phenomenal bass player (and a really nice guy) and Danny is a killer kit player. The band also had a light show to rival every other band on the bill, with impressive lasers and trippy colors.

If you’ve never heard anyone randomly shout “TOSIN! ABASI!” before then you probably don’t know who Animals as Leaders are because Tosin Abasi is quickly rising to be one of the greatest and most influential guitar players to ever exist. But all the credit shouldn’t go only to Abasi because he’s got an incredible group of top-notch musicians helping him achieve his musical goals. Javier Reyes (guitar) and Matt Garstka (drums) help solidify animals as leaders as the trailblazers in this new wave of heavy, virtuoso guitar-playing. This was my first time seeing all of these bands actually so when Tosin played his first note, my jaw dropped to the floor and I couldn’t pick it up until after they finished. It was nothing short of mind-blowing.

As if the first bands weren’t enough, now I had Meshuggah to wait for. One of the all time greatest heavy metal bands as well as one of the most influential of all time. But there was a major problem. Lead singer Jens Kidman has been sick with the flu for some time now and has had to drop himself out of the shows. My friends and I were running so many possibilities of what was going to happen based off loads of rumors we heard and the like. Finally, Marten came out onstage and informed us that Jens’s evil-cardboard-cutout-twin would replace him on vocals as they played Jens’s studio voice through the PA. What’s funny is that the cardboard cutout moved just as much as they band. What’s scary is how extremely tight and precise this band are live. You obviously get that impression listening to the studio recordings, but live is a different beast entirely and they absolutely killed it like no other. Playing a blistering set of songs from the newest album (Koloss), the most popular album (obzen) and some older treasures, the band plowed through the set and proved that no obstacle can defeat this band. One cool little trick that the band pulled was inviting Sacha from Intronaut to come up and sing a song with the band. A huge boost for someone like Sacha as he sang “New Millenium Cyanide Christ”…and killed. It was a risky move, but I guess the band wouldn’t do it if he wasn’t able to because he nailed it.

What a special night overall considering the circumstances. Unfortunately I missed my train into Philly last Saturday night so I can’t give you a review of the Gojira show I was supposed to see. Oh well.

Lamb of God: Killadelphia Part 2

Posted in Concert Reviews on November 28, 2012 by lukesreviews1014

Last Saturday, Lamb of God came back to Philly on a blinding tour for another videotaped performance, this time at the Electric Factory. The tour also included the likes of the Swedish power house group In Flames, Texas’s gut-busting Hellyeah, and England’s new up and coming Thrash titans, Sylosis (Hatebreed were also on a leg of this tour and there were rumors that Cannibal Corpse might appear on a few dates in place of Hellyeah).

Kicking off the evening’s rampage was Sylosis. I had heard of Sylosis before and I was familiar with some of their music, but I hadn’t listened to them in a long time and seeing them live made me want to go home and listen to all three albums nonstop. I thought they were incredibly good considering that a) this was their second time in America and b) they don’t move around a lot so they have to rely on their complex riffs and machine gun precision to keep people interested.

Next up as Hellyeah. I’ll be honest, I’m not a fan really at all. They have a couple of tracks that are pretty good, but I just never got into them and Chad Grey bugs me as a singer. I just don’t think he’s that great. That being said, I was thoroughly impressed by their live show. The band really do sound like a stampede on stage (in a good way) and Grey can really control a crowd…or maybe that was just because the majority of people in attendance were drunk by this point in time. No, in all seriousness, this band seem to have a really loyal following and I thought they were really good. Plus, it’s Vinnie Paul on the drums, so I found that to be really cool and exciting, especially because he really is the driving force of that band both musically and because of his history.

Next we have In Flames, a band that I feel never really got the credit they deserve when it came to them being on of the big three pioneers of the swedish melodic death metal style that became a signature of metalcore, death metal, melodic death metal, etc. They had a live show that would rival any other headliner (except for the fact that Lamb of fucking God was the headliner…so that doesn’t really count haha) and they stormed through a collection of their all time greatest hits. The light show was phenomenal, and everyone seemed like they were having a good time. I was so glad to finally see them for the first time on a night as momentous as that night.

Moving forward to the main attraction, now it’s time for Lamb of God. After everything that’s happened to the band and Randy in particular, I think everyone was both curious and excited to see how things would turn out and how the band would play. Knowing that Lamb of God simply just do not fail live I didn’t have any doubts, but man, I have not seen them play that well before. It was an all killer no filler set and the new songs sound amazing. They opened with “Desolation” and “Ghost Walking” off the new record and they also dropped “Undertow” in the middle of the set. They played a blistering hour and a half long set with a four song encore of “In Your Words”, “Laid to Rest”, “Redneck” and “Black Label.” If you’ve ever seen Lamb of God before, then you know how crazy their shows can get and it was all that and more. The highlight of their set was during a small break in between songs; the whole crowd starting shouting “RAAAANNN-DY! RAAAANNN-DY!” the spotlight was on him and he was just grinning like a little school girl and you could tell he was just so thankful and truly happy. He then went into the opening lines to “Omerta” a vengeful song that seemed appropriate considering the whole Czech controversy surrounding the band. All in all, it was just such a great show. If you missed it, you really missed out.

No word yet as to whether the show will be produced into another live CD/DVD. As far as I know they just streamed the show live online, but what do I know?

Great show. Everyone killed it and fun was had by all.

Luke Helker

The Unshakable Tour

Posted in Concert Reviews on November 11, 2012 by lukesreviews1014

Last friday, I made the mistake of going to Lancaster to see For Today headline this “Unshakeable Tour.” I wanted to go to this show because I liked most of these christian bands without necessarily believing their message and had yet to see half of them live. I wouldn’t say that it was a mistake overall, rather it was just something I shouldn’t have gone to.

The tour is sponsored by World Vision, an organization dedicated to trying to halt child slavery and human trafficking. They offer various rehabilitation efforts as well as trying to open these people up to God after enduring such trauma and trying to further help them overcome what will be forever implanted in these children. Fair enough. That’s an extremely noble cause that I support all the way.

I swear though, a majority of the people in attendance had never been to a show before because believe it or not, there are a lot of unwritten etiquette rules when going to a show that features a lot of hardcore-metalcore bands like these and most of the people in attendance never followed them. Combine that with that fact that it was wall-to-wall packed in the Chameleon Club (the most crowded it’s ever been for me) and I was fairly pissed by that fact alone.

So the first band Hundredth come on. Great hardcore band. Never seen them before; they killed it. Halfway through the singer starting giving a little speech about his experiences with God and how we can be saved etc. Having seen For Today numerous times before, I knew that bands like this liked to “preach” in between some songs in the middle of their sets. I don’t particularly care one way or another, because the messages are good even if I don’t fully believe what they believe, so it didn’t bother me. Texas in July got up, played a killer show, and preached a little too. Fine.

The next band to go up was Sleeping Giant. I had heard about them for a while, but never really listened to their music and had never seen them live. This band just pissed me off. Within a 40 minute set, they managed to preach in between every song (each is about 2-3 minutes mind you) longer than the song they just played. It was a little overkill and then the heat of the moment must have really start to get him charged up and he started spewing out a bunch of rants about how he rates a lot of this “fake christian metal” and how his music actually “speaks directly to God” unlike most bands. It got tot the point where he was basically telling me that I’m fake because I listen to this music. I’m not going to go on a retaliation rant, but it just seems funny to me that these bands try to wave this flag of tolerance, forgiveness, what-have-you, and yet he goes up denouncing all these bands. It’s a shame because when the band actually played they were really good, but I just can’t take that much preaching (I guess I’m going to Hell..).

Then people from the World Vision organization started getting up in between sets and preaching and talking about their experiences with God, etc. and coming off the back of the Sleeping Giant set, I just wasn’t having it. My mood went from annoyed to pissed off very quickly. Thankfully the next band was Impending Doom, who were the band of the night in my mind (this was my 6th time seeing For Today and having never seen any of the other bands, I wanted to gauge who was the best band of that night). Yeah they preached a little, but I was over it because they were so good. They are so heavy and they sounded like the world was imploding right there in the club. Very good show.

Finally For Today came on. They killed it because they simply don’t do bad shows. I’ve never seen a bad show from them. I was them this past summer at warped tour and between then and now they added some new tunes to their setlist. All the new songs sound great and the older ones are classics and will never die. Fun was had by all and every band was in fire, even though I’ve gotten my preaching fill for the rest of my life.

Luke Helker

Ryan Tennis @ The Ware Center

Posted in Concert Reviews on November 4, 2012 by lukesreviews1014

On Friday, November 2nd, Philadelphia native and singer/songwriter Ryan Tennis visited Lancaster to perform at the Ware Center. Those who live in Lancaster know how the Ware Center operates and how they bring in a huge music crowd. Combine that with the fact that it was also “First Friday” and you get a pretty good audience for Tennis. What was odd though was that he had to share the stage with a bunch of little ballet girls. Nothing wrong with that and the girls performed beautifully, but the girls and their parents weren’t necessarily there for him and so he had to really work to get people on his side.

When dealing with any singer/songwriter as a opposed to some full band, the live presence is different because it’s just a man playing guitar and singing and so having an arsenal of really good songs is what you need in order to win a crowd over and I think that’s exactly what he did.

I’ve been seeing Ryan Tennis almost every year since 2008 and every time he gets better and better. His songwriting is improving dramatically, his voice is solid and he’s very captivating. He also just released a new album through Milkboy records, which he gave to me to review so that review will be coming up shortly.

His show consisted of a few twenty minute slots in between three ballet performances. In total he played about twenty or some odd songs, most of which were new ones of his new record, some were old favorites of mine, and he also dropped a few covers in as well. Tennis is a big Paul Simon fan and so he covered “Graceland” and “The Boy in the Bubble”, which if you know anything about Paul Simon you know how huge those songs are and I think he performed them perfectly. I’d never heard those songs like that and I quite enjoyed that sound.

One thing I think is unique about a guy like Tennis is that the songs he writes can take two completely different shapes whether performed solo or with a full band and most of the time his albums have a full band so being able to see him perform these songs solo and then hear them with a full band take on two really unique lives. I think it’s hard for an artist to write songs that perfectly fit both sides of that particular spectrum and I think that has to be some sort of testament to his songwriting. There’s plenty of people that do that, but there aren’t a lot who do it well and I think Tennis is one of those songwriters.

Well that’s enough of me for this week. Thanks for getting back in the groove with me.

Luke Helker

Streetlight Manifesto @ The Chameleon Club (10/20/12)

Posted in Concert Reviews on November 4, 2012 by lukesreviews1014

I’m going to mark my return with a concert review. Notice: This review was written on October 21, 2012 so it’s a bit dated, but that shouldn’t stop you from reading it and enjoying the bands I’m promoting. Thanks


Last Saturday night, the Chameleon Club welcomed Streetlight Manifesto into Lancaster with open arms. Now I’ve been to the Chameleon Club a lot and have seen some pretty big name bands headline the venue, but I’ve never seen a band like Streetlight draw in a crowd as big as last nights. The first floor was absolutely packed.

The first band to open up the night was a band out of Oregon called the Chicharones. They were a bit of an odd bunch because they had two vocalists, a rapper who looked like Jonah Hill another rapper who did a lot of singing as well. Their guitar looked like he belonged with Emmure, the bassist looked like Snoop Dogg (correction he’s now Snoop Lion) and the drummer looked like that guy from the Office who was obsessed with his stapler. To top it off they had a DJ who wore a pig mask. By looking at them, it’s hard to picture what they would sound like or if they would be good, but they were absolutely great. They had a real Beastie Boys vibe and the rapper who looked like Jonah Hill was an incredibly fast rapper killed it. They were a really fun band that had a lot going on musically and I would definitely try to see them again.

The second band was a four piece called Lionize. With one guitar player. One bassist, a keyboard player, and a drummer, this band had very bluesy-slightly-reggae-experimental sound to them. I thought they were great as well, but they were the kind of band that are good for a half hour and then it gets boring. They ended up playing an hour set, which I thought was a bit much, but oh well. They were still an incredibly tight group of guys and put on a great show.

Finally, the moment we were all waiting for. For those of you reading this who are not familiar with who/what Streetlight Manifesto are, they are a ska group. They’re one of those groups thought they right such great songs, lyrics, and hooks that even if you despise ska, there is no reason to not like this band (Listen to the album Somewhere in the Between if you want to get of the Streetlight train). They absolutely kill live too. I was with people who were seeing this band for the 5th and even 9th time and said that Streetlight never fail live. The band is comprised of a guitar player/ lead vocalist, a bassist, a drummer, and a four person horn line (1 bari sax, 1 tenor/ alto sax, 1 trombone, and 1 trumpet ). This group of seven are so tight and the musicians in the horn line are some of the best on their respective instruments. Playing a show of mainly songs from their album Somewhere in the Between, they played a blistering hour long set and had Lancaster city in the palm of their hands.

It was such a great show. I would see it all again in a heartbeat and I’m not even a big ska fan, but they’re transcends ska into awesomeness. Plain and simple. You HAVE to get involved with this band. You won’t be disappointed.

Luke Helker

Mayhem Festival Recap

Posted in Concert Reviews on July 28, 2012 by lukesreviews1014

This year, the Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival celebrates its fifth birthday with one of the most solid, and yet, on of the most confusing lineups thus far in their career. Having replaced Ozzfest as the premier metal festival in America, Mayhem Fest has been able to deliver five different, unique, and special lineups of fantastic and important bands. I feel America has a real problem when it comes to summer tours because most bands just seem to flip flop between one and the next every other year, but Mayhem has always been diverse and slightly unpredictable, which makes it exciting. This year’s lineup, while deservedly received some mixed reviews, is incredibly solid and has potentially opened the gates for a wider audience for future tours.

My Mayhem experience took place on Friday, July 27th in Camden, New Jersey. I was joined by a few of my friends as we passed through the main gates and entered the arena, thus launching a long, but memorable day to come. The first band for me to see was I, the Breather, a Sumerian records act starting to make waves with their most recent release Truth and Purpose, which is an epic christian metalcore powerhouse of a record. Along with Dirtfedd and Betraying the Martyrs, Mayhem has really started to launch smaller acts. Ever since the beginning, Mayhem Fest have tried to promote some local acts. One band, Beyond the Scar, have been the Jager Band since the beginning (which says a lot about the band) and this lineup features a lot more local acts and smaller acts. For those of you that remember, Ozzfest was responsible for putting a lot of now-famous metal bands on the map (e.g. System of a Down, Slipknot, Down, Lamb of God, etc.) and was big on promoting lesser known bands by putting them with some of the biggest bands around. Apart from Beyond the Scar, Mayhem Fest have never really promoted local bands or tried to put certain bands on the map until now.

I think I, The Breather’s performance might have really won some people over. They’re heavy enough for some of the more straightforward metal kids and have enough breakdowns for the hardcore people. Everything was very clear and concise and while they aren’t really doing anything new and there are certainly bands out there doing what they do better, but I’m a fan of this band and was really happy with their performance and that’s all that counts. I then saw a few minutes of one of the local acts. I can’t quite remember their name and their music was less memorable. Just an average thrash band sounding like a sum of their 80s influences. Nothing new or captivating whatsoever. On the opposite end of the spectrum though, we have Whitechapel. One of the heaviest bands around, Whitechapel stormed through their set like a pack of rabid tigers attacking and killing a whole herd of Gazelle. Their newest self-titled album was released earlier this year and the new songs sound absolutely amazing live. I saw them at the Electric Factory back in December and they sounded just as good, if not better, this time around being outside. Great new album, great live band, it was all great.

Immediately following Whitechapel was Dirtfedd, a fairly new band that I had never heard and didn’t plan on hearing. From what I did happen to overhear though didn’t seem all to special, but I heard some people say that they were good. Maybe I’ll look into it next time. Which brings me to The Devil Wears Prada, another band that I had seen back in December with Whitechapel.  They were good, but I thought their show at the Electric Factory was better. Their mix wasn’t really bad either, I just think they sounded much better at the other show (probably because they were the headliners on that tour). I think adding The Devil Wears Prada was a risky, but smart move on the part of the powers that be that book the bands. The Devil Wears Prada have enough metalcore/hardcore elements that attracts more of a Warped Tour crowd to the show and the past few releases have been the heaviest in the bands career. Surely heavy enough to attract the heavy metal crowd that populates this festival. The problem is there are plenty of metalheads that are snobby and automatically discredit bands that aren’t 100% metal, so converting those people is the main goal for a band like The Devil Wears Prada and I think overall they most likely did so to an extent. I also feel like this band are the bridge between bands on the bill like As I lay Dying and Upon a Burning Body with Asking Alexandria (a bog upset this year, which we’ll address soon enough). I think we are going to start to see a lot more bands of this ilk and a lot more metalcore bands on the Mayhem Fest stages.

Next up we have Upon a Burning Body, a band that have already their stripes and proved that they can work a crowd unlike half the bands on this tour. They were playing the Sumerian stage, which wasn’t much of a stage. For the past few years, there were always the two side stages next to each other, but for whatever reason this Sumerian stage was merely a little tent with a stage that’s only an inch or two off the ground and the guard rail right up against the stage. As a photographer, I found it inconvenient and hard to get some great shots from the sides and behind the stage. Still got some decent shots, but I just don’t understand why they had a pitiful excuse for a stage set up all the way in the farthest corner of the entire parking lot and not right next to the Jagermeister stage like always. But like I said before, this is a very new and different spin for the Mayhem Festival. Anyways, Upon a Burning Body sounded amazing, playing a short set filled with mainly newer songs. I quite like the new album, but a lot of my friends have been slagging it off a bit and saying there are only three or four good songs on it. While I don’t think Red. White. Green. is as good as The World is Ours, I don’t think you should shy away from it at all. To me, I think the problem lies in the fact that a) Upon a Burning Body are one of the best bands to come out of the scene in the past decade and b) released an 8/10 debut record and toured relentlessly proving that they are a powerhouse live act and were more than capable of headlining shows on just that one album alone. When you look at it like that, no album can truly compare, but I happen to think that Red. White. Green. certainly does justice as a sophomore release.

After seeing As I Lay Dying, I got very excited for the new record and wanted to go back and rediscover some of their older material. I was also surprised at how fit Tim Lambesis is. In pictures he looks big, but his muscles were absolutely huge; much larger in person. But speaking of follow up records, I’m interested to see what this band will pull out of the bag for us this time around. “Cauterize” is a new song they released a short while back and is one of the best songs of their career, but to me, As I Lay Dying are the perfect 7 out of 10 band. Lots of good stuff, but nothing great. Nothing to really make them a headliner for a big festival or anything other than maybe headlining a second stage. I really liked The Powerless Rise and I hope this new album is better than it.

Probably the biggest surprise for me came from French metalcore and Sumerian records band Betraying the Martyrs. I had heard their debut album a couple of times and liked what I heard, but never expected to enjoy their show as much as I did. They kick off their show with the bombastic and brutally heavy “Martyrs” and continue to be relentless throughout their set. I was nearly blown away by just how heavy they were and how crazy their keyboard player/clean vocalist was. They really put on a good show and I think they’ve tripled the size of their fan base. Now all that’s left is a new record.Speaking of new records, how are Anthrax going to top Worship Music? Thanks to that album, Anthrax have made themselves in the limelight again and are getting some much deserved attention. I’ve always felt that Anthrax were one of the most criminally underrated  metal bands ever, but Worship Music completely blew me away as well as almost everyone else who thought they had this band figured out. Their live show blew me away just as much as the album did. Having never seen them before, I got starstruck seeing Scott Ian and Joey Belladonna right there in front of me. I just wish they were put on the main stage instead of Asking Alexandria. I get the rotating main stage idea, but apparently Anthrax preferred to not be on the rotating lineup and instead have chosen to headline the second stage every show. A noble gesture; I just hope everyone can appreciate what this band have done and recognize their importance and validity in this world.

Like I said, Asking Alexandria were opening the main stage during this particular leg of the tour. A lot of mixed reviews followed this band being booked. I think the logic of it makes sense in a twisted sort of way. They are one of the biggest metalcore bands around and will attract an enormous crowd just for them alone and they are part of the Sumerian records family. I would be prepared for a much larger Sumerian input from now on. If this particular Mayhem Festival is popular enough, we could certainly see more Sumerian bands like Periphery, Born of Osiris, After the Burial, Veil of Maya, and The Faceless (hopefully with a bigger stage as well). As far as Asking Alexanria’s show, I really just couldn’t be bothered. I honestly can’t stand them anymore. They’ve been unashamedly been ripping off Slipknot’s stage moves and are full blown alcoholics. In fact, for those of you that went t the festival and picked up a program, flip to their page. For all of the bands on the tour they have a general info box with a spot of a quote regarding your feelings towards being on the tour. Asking Alexandria’s quote was: “If we drink less, we’ll get a hangover…We keep drinking so the hangover never hits.” Not only is that completely irrelevant to the tour, but it makes them all look like assholes. I like some of their music, but I don’t want to be associated with a band that puts partying and debauchery first before the music. We already got enough of that with the glam and hair bands, but at least they wrote better songs. They just have some catchy choruses over some heavy breakdowns. Not a lot going on in the “song department” and for that, I just can’t respect this band anymore. I also felt their sound was muddy and indistinguishable between songs. I’m sure the die hard fans had all of their dreams come true seeing them, but I was not pleased.

I was pleased though with Motorhead’s performance. In fact I was more than pleased. I thought it was fantastic. My starry eyes from Anthrax had worn off so I needed to see another living legend to bring them back into view. I mean, when you think about it, none of these bands would be around if it weren’t for Motorhead. They are so important and I think they don’t get enough credit either. I personally can only really stand about a half hour of Motorhead’s music before I’ve had my fill, so it was good that they weren’t too high on the bill, but they really should have headlined. I was still more than pleased with their performance and the place just went off when they broke into “Ace of Spades” and “Overkill.”

Seeing Slayer allowed me to cross their name of the big four list. I have now seen all of the big four thrash bands, but out of all of them, I think Slayer were the worst.They were still really good, but Slayer should never just be really good. I mean, they’re fucking SLAYER! for a reason and I know that they are capable of better performances. Tom Araya practically looks like Santa Claus nowadays with his big beard and graying hair and Gary Holt certainly stepped up to the plate in order to fill in for Jeff Hanneman while he fights his spider-bite infection. That being said, I was happy to finally see Slayer and hear those great songs be played, but I know deep down that they are capable of better performances and so that makes me slightly disappointed.

Thankfully this last band was not disappointing at all. You know who I’m talking about. You know what time it is. One of the biggest, best and most important bands in the last decade, Slipknot were absolutely amazing.  Playing a blistering set, they stormed through with little banter in between. My only complaint was that I thought Corey’s mix wasn’t perfect. There was a little too much echo on the vocals, so with songs like “Wait and Bleed” and “Spit it Out” where the verses are close together, it sounded a little muddy, but overall, it wasn’t a big deal. There were also other songs that I wish they had played. Slipknot have so many killer songs that they could have played for another hour and would still have some great songs leftover.  It has honestly been a dream of mine to see Slipknot and especially to be a part of the Spit-it-out-zero-bullshit, so being able to finally be a part of that was really special for me. This was the closest I could ever come to seeing them in their Download 2009 performance. Now that Paul is no longer with us, there is this new sense of unity and I feel theres more of a connection between them and the fans. Aside from Metallica, they are the only other band that has welcomed me and every single other person in attendance to their family. I’ll probably spend Thanksgiving with Slipknot and Christmas with Metallica this year and then I’ll switch off next year. All in all, it was a perfect band to conclude a perfect day.

This was truly a unique festival lineup. A lot of surprises, a lot of heritage acts, and a lot of questions concerning next years lineup. I think every year has been very strong and I think whatever direction they decide to take will please a lot of people. Hopefully High on Fire will sort themselves out so that they can come back and redeem themselves for stepping out this year. Until then, I’ll see you next year.

Luke Helker