Written By: Michael and Terri Gonzales
The annual Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival made its way to Tinley Park, Illinois last Sunday, July 12. The tour has become the summer staple for heavy metal tours that fans from countless different genres of heavy music count on and look forward to every year. This year’s lineup stood to be one of Mayhem Fest’s most diverse to date. With underground heavy hitters such as Thy Art Is Murder, Jungle Rot, Sworn In, and more supporting the mainstage acts The Devil Wears Prada, Hellyeah, King Diamond, and Slayer the tour certainly had something for everyone musically within the metal world.
The Victory Records Stage had a diverse range of bands performing on it throughout the afternoon. Chicago local music veterans Punch Cabbie won the Coldcock Whiskey contest and kicked off the day’s festivities amongst the blistering heat and humidity. Despite the extreme temperature and looming threat of thunderstorms, a plethora of fans were there bright and early to catch every bit of action. Code Orange, Shattered Sun, Sworn In, Sister Sin, Jungle Rot, Thy Art Is Murder, Whitechapel, Kissing Candice, and Feed Her To The Sharks rounded out the Victory Records stage lineup for the day.
All of the bands on the Victory Stage put on intense sets while enduring some absurd heat. It was all in a days work for everyone on the tour. Australian deathcore quintet Thy Art Is Murder’s lead vocalist Chris McMahon riled up the crowd with chants and screams about Michael Jordan, Pizza, and other Chicago delicacies, and the crowd loved every second of it. Following up next shortly afterward was deathcore veterans Whitechapel. Vocalist Phil Bozeman immediately whipped the crowd into a frenzy as the pit instantly opened up swallowing anyone in its path as he unleashed his torrential screams. The murderous horror rockers Kissing Candice put on their cinematic set dressed in full horror movie inspired attire. Feed Her To The Sharks finished off the days festivities on the Victory Stage with a hard and heavy set.
The Devil Wears Prada kicked off the main stage performances for the evening with an absolutely brutal and intense performance. Vocalist Mike Hranica screams sent chills down patrons spines throughout the venue as he went wild holding nothing back on the microphone. The Devil Wears Prada performed a very diverse setlist opening with their hit “Escape” and later performing “Outnumbered” both off of the Zombie EP along with a few older classics such as “Reptar, King of the Ozone”, “Assistant to the Regional Manager”, and “Danger: Wildman”.
They also played some of their more recent hits including “Supernova” of the upcoming “Space” EP set to release on August 21 via Rise Records. The Devil Wears Prada put on one of the most intense performances of the day without a doubt.
Next on the main stage was heavy metal supergroup Hellyeah. Former Pantera and Damage Plan drummer Vinnie Paul was first to take the stage as the crowd erupted with cheers of praise for the veteran drummer. Former Mudvayne vocalist Chad Gray unleashed his signature screams upon the crowd to a thunderous applause. Hellyeah cranked out hits new and old keeping their fans more than pleased with their performance.
King Diamond was next and in rare stage form being makeup free due to a severe sinus infection he was currently enduring. He did not let that hinder his performance however as the theatrics were in full effect. A two-tiered elaborately lit stage adorned with demon statues and a massive King Diamond logo was the foundation for the legendary vocalist’s performance. King Diamond paraded about the stage with his custom cross shaped leg bone microphone handle belting out high notes with his signature falsetto style vocals to his fans delight.
Closing out the night were heavy metal pioneers Slayer bringing their signature style of thrash that has kept them regarded as one of heavy metal’s greatest acts for the past 30 years now. A white curtain covered the stage as the lights went dark and “Delusions of Saviour” bellowed throughout the speakers as the crowd went absolutely insane. Multiple animated upside down crosses and pentagrams were projected onto the curtain that then transformed into two Slayer logos just before the curtain dropped. The band immediately went into “Repentless” with a spectacle of lights and a plethora of pyrotechnics launching fireballs throughout the stage. Fans screamed along word for word with lead vocalist Tom Araya while guitarists Kerry King and Gary Holt were headbanging frenzies about the flaming stage. This was a Slayer performance at its finest with the perfect blend of fire and light to create a serene visual display that coincides with their distinct music. Slayer finished off the night with their classic hits “Raining Blood” and “Angel of Death” to a completely chaotic applause.
2015’s Mayhem Fest closed out with a bang as Slayer shut the place down like only they can do. This year’s Mayhem Fest may have been a bit scaled down from what it has been in years past, but nonetheless it still delivered an all day festival showcasing a diverse range of heavy metal like it always has. From the up and coming acts, to the underground heroes, and along with a handful of heavy hitting veterans the Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival presented a wide variety of metal bands as usual. All in all the 2015 Mayhem Fest delivered and did not disappoint. Only time will tell what next year will bring for Mayhem Fest.