On this date in history, 7/19/2014, the yearly mecca to metal known as the Mayhem Festival arrived for its annual stop at Deer Creek. This time around, the fest featured Avenged Sevenfold, Korn, Asking Alexandria, Trivium, Cannibal Corpse, Suicide Silence, Miss May I, Mushroomhead, Texas Hippie Coalition, King 810, Bodycount Featuring Ice T, Veil Of Maya, Upon A Burning Body, Darkest Hour, Emmure, Ill Nino, Wretched, Islander, and Erimha. Looking at this list of bands, I realize that although I was present for the entire day, I only truly paid attention to a handful of these acts. Part of this is due to the physical layout of adjacent stages and trying to secure the best vantage point to witness the bands I knew would be superior. Another fact (not to be overlooked) is that this was probably the weakest lineup of any of the Mayhem shows. What this breaks down to is that I only paid close attention to a bare handful of these performances. Some of the others, such as Ill Nino, King 810, and Upon A Burning Body, I remember being distracted by either looking for people I knew were supposed to be there, or just people watching in general. My big discovery on this day was Texas Hippie Coalition (or THC…see what they did there? Pretty clever, eh?) who somehow managed the neat trick of simultaneously channeling the spirit of Pantera, mixed it with a healthy dose of Lynyrd Skynyrd, and still made it sound like something all their own. The singer, Big Dad Ritch, and the lead guitarist, Cord Pool, were both fantastic. I had previously seen Mushroomhead once before, but this time they were free of technical difficulties and played a tight, energetic set. Much improved over my first Mushroom experience. Miss May I delivered a high powered set as well, with excellent vocals and great pit activity from the crowd. Suicide Silence returned for the first time since the tragic death of original singer Mitch Lucker, now fronted by ex-All Shall Perish singer, Hernan "Eddie" Hermida. Hermida did a great job of pumping up an audience that was already prepared to go crazy at a moment's notice. It was great to see this band back in front of a live crowd where they belong. I found myself a prime spot of real estate in the front row of the stage where Cannibal Corpse was due up next while Ice T led his metal/rap hybrid, Bodycount, on the other second stage. I had a pretty good view of them and they sounded decent and appeared to have their crowd involved, but I wasn't moving away because I knew what I was getting ready to see. Cannibal Corpse were far and away my highlight of the entire day. George "Corpsegrinder" Fisher was the living embodiment of what a death metal vocalist should be, roaring his vocals and headbanging with a ferocity that none of the even most rabid audience members could compete with, spinning his long black hair until his head must surely fly of his body. Luckily for us, it remained attached. I had been told once that I "look just like Alex Webster", the band's founding member and bass player extraordinaire. I happened to be standing directly in front of him throughout their set, and it was a pretty good resemblance, although I was bearded by then, and he was not! Once the show shifted to the main stage, there wasn't much left for me to be too excited about. Trivium started the festivities in good form. This was my 4th time seeing them, and they always rock, but unfortunately for them, there is always a let down following the frenzy of the second stage bands, mostly due to the distance between the band and the audience at the main stage area. Asking Alexandria followed, and despite not being a fan of their music, I have to give credit to Danny Worsnop, who sang his ass off. Credit where credit is due. Korn were up next, and reinvigorated by the return of Brian "Head" Welch to the band, reuniting the twin guitar attack that had been diluted by his absence. This was my 7th time seeing them, and it was definitely noticeable having them back to full strength. Avenged Sevenfold closed the show, and try as I may, I just can't enjoy this band. I can be objective about it. They are exceptional musicians and they put on a stellar visual and audio performance. In particular, their stage set with the castle walls and the enormous skeleton king was one of the coolest stage sets I have ever seen. However, there is the problem of their vocalist, M. Shadows…I just don't like his voice, and after about 2 or 3 songs, I just want to be anywhere else. Other than that, he does his job with great energy, and engages the crowd between songs, seems like a genuinely likeable guy, but he can't help it that I just don't want to hear him sing. I don't think they are going to fall from grace without my approval. By the response I saw and heard, Avenged Sevenfold appears to be here for the duration and I'm sure I'll end up at more of their appearances down the road. See, I give credit where credit is due. Until next time, rock on, everyone. There is something out there for all of us, and I eagerly await my next chance to be at an all day show.
Written By Braddon S Williams aka The Concert Critic