The Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival made a stop in Bristow, Virginia bringing 13 bands with them, including King Diamond and Slayer.
With a temperature in the mid 80’s and a virtually cloudless sky, conditions could not have been better for an outdoor festival. The gates opened just after 1 pm and, by the time most people got to the Victory Records Stage, the Coldcock Whiskey Battle Of The Bands winner, Fredricksburg-based rock band Elisium, had played most of their set and caught the last song.
Code Orange was the first touring band to hit the stage placing them in the unenviable position of playing to a small crowd while people were still filtering in. The foursome from Pittsburgh threw down hard despite the small crowd.
Shattered Sun got the masses going during their set as fans started to mosh and a few crowd surfed.
Sworn In took the stage next and kept the momentum going with their high energy performance. The crowd responded in kind by moshing heavily.
Sister Sin made their last performance in Northern Virginia was in 2013 supporting Doro. They played a short set due to a technical issue where one of the guitar amps was feeding back, which engineers could not fix. Despite the problems, Liv launched the band into a set that had the crowd begging for “… one more song.”
20-year death metal veterans, and one of the bands who played last year’s Summer Slaughter Tour, Jungle Rot took the stage next and played a variety of songs, including “Worst Case Scenario.” At one point, Dave Matrise called for a tsunami of fans to crowd surf to the barrier and the fans were more than willing to oblige. The crowd once again screamed for “… one more song,” but unfortunately, due to the time constraints, they did not get it.
One of the two highly anticipated bands for the younger crowd was Thy Art Is Murder. The band, veterans of last year’s Summer Slaughter, brought fans just what they wanted to hear. One highlight of the performance was frontman Chris McMahon climbing out onto the barrier between fans and photographers to sang briefly, a moment which the crowd enjoyed immensely.
The other band the younger fans were clamoring for was Whitechapel, who came on after Thy Art Is Murder and delivered a brutal and energetic set. A lot of fans wearing Whitechapel t-shirts filled the mosh pit and crowd surfed with authority.
The Devil Wears Prada was the first band to play the Main Stage. Their set offered the fans respite from the heat as it was much cooler at this stage as the area was in the shade.
Kissing Candice was next and they looked like a mash up between Slipknot and Ghoul with their outfits. The fans were entertained by both the costumes and the music.
For the older people in the audience, while they might not have been fans of Hellyeah, anything other than metalcore was a welcome change and these guys delivered. Chad Gray ran around the stage like a man possessed and stopped at stage center to reach out to the fans.
The last Victory Stage band to perform was Feed Her To The Sharks. They, like Thy Art Is Murder, are also from Australia. While most of the crowd has not heard FHTTS before, they soon began to mosh as the fans quickly warmed to their take on metalcore.
Many who bought tickets to Mayhem Fest came to see one band in particular: King Diamond. Despite touring the U.S. last year, many missed the shows he played and decided that Mayhem Fest would be their opportunity to see him perform.
The band came out to a round of applause and screaming as they took their places. During their set, Kerry King of Slayer came out to play Mercyful Fate’s 1983 song “Evil” with King Diamond. This started at the Holmdel, New Jersey stop and has continued since and the fans loved it. After the set, multiple people were heard speaking of how awesome it was to see King Diamond. For many, it was their first time.
For fans of thrash metal band Slayer, their time had finally come. The white curtain was over the stage and images of crosses and the Slayer logo were projected on it. Soon it was dropped and the band opened the show with “Repentless,” the title track off their upcoming album. The people in the first couple of rows probably checked to see if they still had eyebrows after the pyrotechnics, as it became suddenly warm.
Not giving anyone a chance to rest, the band went right into “Hate Worldwide” from World Painted Blood and “Jihad” from Christ Illusion before they stopped and Tom addressed the crowd. It was almost as if Slayer had something to prove by the aggressiveness of their playing, and true to form, the crowd just ate it up. They played many of the classics including fan favorite “War Ensemble” and ended the evening with the always popular “Angel Of Death.”