Mayhem Festival @ Susquehanna Bank Center

CAMDEN, NJ—Metalheads reunite in the wake of Ozzfest, at this year’s Mayhem Festival, which was put together by Rock Star Energy Drink. Not since Ozzy last graced the stage in Ozzfest 2010 has there been such a collection of hair, tattoos, leather and music merchants coming together to see some of the most badass bands this summer has to offer. Like most festivals of this caliber, there were three stages set up; The Extreme Stage hosted Straight Line Stitch, All Shall Perish, Suicide Silence and Machine Head; The Jägermeister Stage hosted Beyond The Scar, Red Fang, Kingdom Of Sorrow and Unearth; in addition to the main stage. Unfortunately, In Flames cancelled the rest of their U.S. tour dates due to a family emergency; otherwise they would have headlined the Jägermeister stage. Performing on the Rock Star Energy Drink Main Stage were the festival’s heavyweights, Trivium, Megadeth, Godsmack and Disturbed.

We arrived at the Mayhem Festival just in time to see Kingdom Of Sorrow. They opened their brutalizing set with the title track to their latest CD, Behind The Blackest Tears, and tore through new songs like “Enlightened To Extinction” and “Monuments Of Ash.” They closed with “Buried On Black,” off of their debut self. We got to meet Kirk and Jamey after their set and they seemed really excited about this project and how the fans are taking to it.

Also, in the crowd during their performance, I spotted Byron Davis from God Forbid, Mike Portnoy formerly of Dream Theater and my bro Don Jamieson from VH-1’s That Metal Show. After hanging out with the Kingdom Of Sorrow guys, we headed out and caught the tail end of Unearth’s energetic set, which ended with their song “The Great Dividers.” As soon as Unearth finished, the attention quickly shifted to The Extreme Stage as Machine Head began their set and tore the heads off the crowd with their power-packed, five-song performance that included “Imperium,” “Beautiful Morning,” “Locust,” “Aesthetics Of Hate” and “Halo.” Machine Head’s energy and brutality is everything that I miss about Pantera! Speaking of Pantera, the late Dimebag Darrell’s fiancée, Rita, was at the festival as well! It was great to see her! We were off to the Rock Star Energy Drink Main Stage.

Trivium kicked off the Main Stage lineup, and they sounded amazing! Singer Matt Heafy and crew were tight and his vocals were so aggressive and melodic at the same time that it just blew me away. This was my first run-in with Trivium, and they won me over with songs like “A Gunshot To The Head Of Trepidation,” “Down From The Sky,” “Throes Of Perdition” and “Built To Fall,” their first radio single off of their latest CD, In Waves.

Up next was the legendary Megadeth, who my girl was really there to see. Being a huge Metallica-head, I never saw Megadeth live before this day. I always admired Dave Ellefson as a bass player, but never had an interest in his bandbecause back then, you either loved Metallica or you loved Megadeth. It was like choosing sides in a divorce, and since the two bands have made up for The Big Four, I guess it was okay to see them. I’m happy that I did because they were awesome. The near 50-year-old old Dave Mustaine ripped through Megadeth classics like “Hangar 18,” “Sweating Bullets,” “Symphony of Destruction” and “Peace Sells.” The highlight of the whole set was the debut of a brand new Megadeth song called “Public Enemy Number One” which will be on the upcoming 13th Megadeth studio album appropriately titled, TH1RT3EN. Bottom line: A great set by Megadeth!

Rounding out the night on the Main Stage were some familiar faces. Godsmack was up next, and the last time that I saw them was on Crüefest 2 at PNC Bank Arts Center. Godsmack seemed to have turned it up a few notches because they were awesome! Singer Sully Erna sounded amazing and seemed to have more energy than ever during this performance. Sully and crew ran through set staples like “The Enemy,” “Straight Out Of Line,” “Speak” and “I Stand Alone,” but they also sprinkled in some brand new songs like “Cryin’ Like A Bitch” and “Love, Hate” Sex, Pain” and of course, as always, the highlight of any Godsmack set is the drum dual between Sully and drummer Shannon Larkin. Godsmack once again proved why they are heavyweights! After a quick change over, Disturbed hit the stage following a short video. Unfortunately, coming off the heels of some break up rumors, I felt that Disturbed was the weak link of the whole day. It just seemed like they didn’t want to be on that stage together and it showed. It was almost like they mailed it in. Their 14-song set included “Asylum,” “The Game,” “The Animal,” “Warrior,” “Another Way To Die,” “Stupify” and, of course, “Indestructible” and “Down With The Sickness,” but needless to say they just didn’t seem to put on a great show besides playing their songs, which did sound great. Anyway, what a day full of great metal! Rock Star Energy Drink should be proud of themselves for putting on such a great event!