This year’s edition of the Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival stopped at the Xfinity Theatre in Hartford, Connecticut, on Sunday July 19th. Along with 14 bands, the festival also brought scorching temperatures with it. Sunday’s heat was no match for metal fans though, as many camped out at the rail all day long or participated in throwing down in the mosh pits.
Music started on the Victory Records Stage shortly after 1pm with the Coldcock Band Winner, Dead By Wednesday. Although many fans were still in the parking lot hanging out or making their way into the festival, Dead By Wednesday didn’t seem to care and gave Mayhem everything they had. After their set was over, they welcomed fans to come hang out with them at the Coldcock tent. After a short 5 minute stage change, Code Orange was next up. This band formed back in 2008 and continues to grow. When they came on stage the Victory Stage area was starting to fill in and the mosh pits started. Code Orange did a good job getting the crowd ready for a long day of music.
The next two bands to take the stage were Shattered Sun and Sworn In. Shattered Sun took the stage right around 2pm when pretty much everyone was inside. People were either checking out the tents set up all around the venue or checking out what Shattered Sun had to offer. Touring behind their recent release Hope Within Hatred, the 6 piece band Shattered Sun showed they weren’t stopping any time soon. Sworn In took the stage after with a very aggressive and hardcore approach. At the start of their set, their singer told the crowd he wanted someone in the ICU by the time the song was over. This made for a fun time for anyone who was partaking in the mosh pits.
After Sworn In and a 15 minute stage change, Sister Sin took the stage. This female-fronted Swedish band was different then the rest of the more hardcore bands on the Victory Records Stage. Sister Sin had more of a throwback metal style that made it feel like the 80s. This change of style was accepted by the crowd and the entire crowd got into this band. After their set was over, Sister Sin went to their merchandise tent to meet fans who were already lined up waiting during the set.
With the heat not letting up at all, Jungle Rot took the stage at 4pm and delivered a killer set behind their recent release Order Shall Prevail. Even with only having a short 25 minute time limit, Jungle Rot ripped through a handful of songs from 3 different albums including their newest. Fans were definitely left wanting to hear more heavy riffs and killer drumming out of the guys in Jungle Rot. Once Jungle Rot was done, fans used the quick break to go hydrate at the Rockstar Energy Drink booth and other places. Luckily, the setup was done perfectly with everything right around the Victory Records Stage, so fans didn’t have to miss any action. Thy Art Is Murder was up next. Touring behind their June release of Holy War, these guys were ready to show Mayhem what they were made of. Their setlist features tracks from both Holy War and their previous release Hate. The highlight of their set is when they kicked an autographed soccer ball into the crowd for the fans.
The last band to take the Victory Records Stage before things got hectic with the Rockstar Energy Drink Main Stage and Victory Stage going back and forth between bands was Whitechapel. Generally classified as a deathcore band, Whitechapel displayed many different traits of other genres. This 6 piece band, which features a 3 guitar attack were the reason why many of the fans at the rail had been there all day. The dedication paid off those fans who stood in the heat all day long because Whitechapel surely did not disappoint anyone in Hartford.
The Rockstar Energy Drink Main Stage started off with The Devil Wears Prada. These guys had quite the mix of clean melodic vocals and hardcore screams. Being the first band to open the main stage, they didn’t have much space up on stage from being in front of every other band’s gear after them, but they were making the most of it. These guys were all over the stage and really getting the crowd prepared for the rest of the evening. As the skies darkened, there was no better time for Kissing Candice to take the Victory Record Stage. This gore-core band took the stage with masks and blood covered clothes. Fans who were lucky enough had the chance to pose for photos with them earlier in the day at the Coldcock tent.
With the music then shifting back over the main stage, fans were ready to see HELLYEAH. This band had the pit section inside ready to go before they even walked on stage. All the fans there knew who HELLYEAH were and they were prepared to thrown down. The set opened up with Vinny Paul standing up on his drum riser and giving the crowd the go ahead signal. The setlist was dominated by their last album, Blood For Blood. The only two songs that weren’t off that release were “War In Me” and the closing song “You Wouldn’t Know”. Lead singer Chad Gray took the time between songs to thank fans and to speak to them about how important music was to him. HELLYEAH continues to grow and this tour is only proof of that. Be sure to follow them in the news because there’s already talks about their next album coming early 2016.
The last band to play on the Victory Records stage came all the way from Melbourne, Australia and they were called Feed Her To The Sharks. This band was another that featured both clean melodic lyrics with a mix of heavy metalcore screams. They mixed their elements quite well and impressed everyone who left their spots at the main stage area. Their set was very short but they like many of the other bands made the best of their available time.
Overshadowing their setlist was the lurking set time for the mighty King Diamond. Starting right on cue, the lights dropped right at 8:10pm. King Diamond shortly appeared from the top of the stage structure they had set up. This was the first band of the day with a serious production. Complete with gargoyles and inverted crosses, King Diamond had a fantastic theatrical set. Not showing their age one bit, King Diamond and the rest of the band sounded absolutely fantastic. Even though the set was only an hour, the band got to play 10 songs and had a nice mix of both King Diamond and Mercyful Fate covers.
After a long 35 minute wait after King Diamond, Slayer fans watched the big white banner finally fall, revealing a relatively empty stage for a headliner. There was no time for disappointment though as Slayer opened the night with their new single “Repentless” which is the title of their new album that’s due out on September 11th. Along with this new track, fans who were just cooling down finally got blasts of fire from the stage. Fans knew there was a reason for just one big screen behind the stage and a row of cabs on each side of drummer Paul Bostaph. The pyrotechnics continued all through the evening and were on queue with the music. The giant screen behind the stage displayed album covers from each song or animated videos. This stage setup was spectacular and went with the music perfectly.
The band was spot on all night long in every aspect. Tom Araya sounded absolutely fantastic behind the mic. Guitarists Kerry King and Gary Holt were top-notch, representing themselves as two of the best thrash metal guitarists of all time. Finally, Paul Bostaph was a beast behind the kit, not missing a single beat. Many people were skeptical with the recent changes that Slayer had gone through, but it is apparent that this change has rejuvenated the band and there’s no letting off the gas pedal.
Slayer Setlist: Delusions of Saviour (Opening), Repentless, Hate Worldwide, Jihad, Disciple, God Send Death, War Ensemble, When The Stillness Comes, Implode, Mandatory Suicide, Chemical Warfare, Ghosts Of War, Dead Skin Mask, Hell Awaits, South Of Heaven, Raining Blood, Angel Of Death
Mayhem Festival was scrutinized this year after they released the lineup, as it was deemed weak and not as impressive as previous years by fans. This was definitely not the case this year. Slayer, King Diamond, HELLYEAH, The Devil Wears Prada and everyone who took the Victory Records Stage put on one hell of a show that needs to be seen.
The tour has less than 2 weeks left to go before it ends in Dallas, TX. Check out the rest of the dates and cities here.