This Friday, the Rockstar Energy Mayhem Festival rolls through our fair city, bringing fifteen purveyors of heavy music to the Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre. The scope of artists ranges from old-timers like Anthrax and Motorhead to young guns like The Devil Wears Prada and Asking Alexandria. These bands are not competing, but that won't stop us from pitting them against one another in a single elimination tournament. Bracket placement was chosen randomly, but winners and losers have been decided by a panel: Daniel Hill (RFT clubs editor and singer of local thrash group Cross Examination), Ryan Wasoba (RFT Music writer) and Phil Ring (guitarist of local technical metal-core band The Gorge).
Will Psychostick survive a tough first-round matchup against a band that has never expressly proven that it knows its alphabet?
Slipknot vs. Upon A Burning Body
The first battle between Mayhem's masked nu-metal headliners versus a small-stage band on the festival's sponsor label Sumerian Records raised conflict among the judges.
Daniel Hill: I cannot, in good conscience, recommend Slipknot over almost any band. Plus, I just watched the video for "Intermission" by Upon a Burning Body, and in the first ten seconds there is a shot of a bulldog wearing sunglasses. I didn't get much further in the video than that, but it was plenty to seal the deal. Phil Ring: (after hearing the "Life sucks and then you die" chant on Upon A Burning Body's "Sin City") I can't support that. Ryan Wasoba: Yeah, [UABB] could be worse, but I have a soft spot for "Wait And Bleed" by Slipknot. PR: Totally.
I The Breather vs. Betraying The Martyrs
An almost equal matchup of two Christ-core bands.
PR: A couple of these I The Breather riffs sound like Meshuggah ripoffs. I wonder if they think Meshuggah is a Christian band because they have a song called "New Millenia Cyanide Christ." DH: I The Breather is a ridiculous band name that had me biased against them from the start. Then, at the 59 second mark in the music video for "False Profit" the drummer does one of those entirely unnecessary stick-flip-tricks that nearly are always the mark of an asshole. RW: I think Betraying The Martyrs gets points for being from Paris. Somehow that makes the poor decisions forgivable. Which band would Jesus like more?
Winner: Betraying The Martyrs
Anthrax vs. Dirtfedd
Veteran defends itself among one of the more ambitious of Mayhem's younger acts.
DH: Despite the fact that Anthrax hasn't been relevant since I was, like, eight, they still win by a landslide based on the fact that the song "Gung Ho" is still one of the hardest rippers out there. PR: I want to like Dirtfedd, but I just can't.
Psychostick vs. Motörhead
A questionable funk-metal joke band versus a group legendary enough to have been referenced in the film Airheads.
PR: Psychostick sounds like Fungus Amongus-era Incubus with Mike Patton back when he still kind of sounded like an elf. RW: There's Primus in there somewhere too, like this band raided the recycle bin on Les Claypool's computer. DH: Seriously? Lemmy! L-E-M-M-Y!
Icon & Anchor vs. Asking Alexandria
Local winner of the Battle For Mayhem butts heads with modern pretty-boy screamo band.
PR: Oh my god...(Upon seeing Asking Alexandria's "The Final Episode" video) DH: Can I abstain? At least Icon & Anchor doesn't do those huge sweeping inspirational vocal parts.
WINNER: Icon & Anchor
As Shadows Collapse vs. The Devil Wears Prada
Springfield, MO's winner of the Battle For Mayhem butts heads with modern pretty-boy screamo band.
RW: I wonder if The Devil Wears Prada uses an auto-tuner live. DH: I have to go with As Shadows Collapse because I really, really don't like The Devil Wears Prada. RW: Prada's singer sounds so weird on his high screams. It's like a male comedian doing an exaggerated impression of a girl crying.
WINNER: As Shadows Collapse
White Chapel vs. Slayer
Up-and-comer endorsed by Chino from the Deftones goes against death metal legends.
PR: Whitechapel has the most interesting riffs of the new bands so far, but they're facing Slayer. RW: It's going to be tough to top Slayer in the riff department
NOTE: Due to the odd number of bands, As I Lay Dying receives a bye and automatically proceeds to the next round. Good luck, As I Lay Dying. ROUND 2
Slipknot vs. Betraying The Martyrs
After barely sneaking into the second round, Slipknot is challenged by a questionable Parisian metal-core sextet.
DH: I have to go with Betraying The Martyrs because they don't have a band member who beats on empty kegs with a stick. PR: Slipknot. I had a phase back in high school. RW: I'm torn, because Betraying The Martyrs is the ironic choice and Slipknot is the guilty pleasure. I think Slipknot is probably better, it's just hard to look past the schtick. I'm impulsively going with Betraying The Martyrs. Sorry, Phil. You've been outvoted. PR: Whatever.
WINNER: Betraying The Martyrs
Anthrax vs. Motörhead
The first match of headliner against headliner proves easier than the judges expected.
DH: I lean towards Motörhead. They were substantially more influential and Anthrax kind of turned into a joke. They were saying for a while that the singer of Slipknot was going to be their singer, which I have a problem with, obviously. And Lemmy, come on. I think i'm gonna have to go with Motörhead as the band who never tried to court members of Slipknot. PR: Motörhead is better, and it's hard to look past Scott Ian's beard. RW: Ian used to be on VH1 too often for me to take him seriously.
Icon & Anchor vs. As Shadows Collapse
After battling peers to earn their spots on Mayhem, the two local champions face off.
DH: As Shadows Collapse because I found Icon & Anchor to be exceptionally boring. RW: As Shadows Collapse is a different kind of boring to me. I'll say Icon & Anchor. PR: I'm going Icon & Anchor.
WINNER: Icon & Anchor
Slayer vs. As I Lay Dying
To be honest, the judges didn't even discuss this one.
WINNER: Slayer ROUND 3
Betraying The Martyrs vs. Motörhead
Kind of a no-brainer.
RW: The fact that Betraying The Martyrs made it this far reminds me of the plot from Rudy.
Icon & Anchor vs. Slayer
Previously known as David versus Goliath (the realistic version).
PR: There are much worse bands than Icon & Anchor, and it's cool that they made it in, but... RW: ...it's Slayer PR: Exactly.
WINNER: Slayer CHAMPIONSHIP ROUND:
Motörhead vs. Slayer
"Ace Of Spades" or "Raining Blood?"
DH: This is really tough, but Slayer sort of inadvertently invented death metal. The stuff on the new albums isn't as good but I can't even think of something on a newer Motörhead record. Slayer did that tour where it rained blood on stage, and that's pretty cool. And look what Kerry King keeps doing to himself with the head tattoos. It looks awesome! PR: So, neck and head tattoos versus Lemmy's giant mole. DH: Oh, and Dave Fuckin' Lombardo is the best drummer. PR: And he gets points for playing in Fantomas. RW: What about Slayer using swastikas in its imagery? DH: Well, [Slayer guitarist] Jeff Hanneman is a huge World War 2 buff, so that's where that comes from. And I think [singer] Tom Araya is Columbian or Cuban or some kind of not pure Aryan race. It was just something they did because it was controversial. RW: Lemmy has tons of cred though. When he was in that Foo Fighters video a bit ago, that was the Foo Fighters borrowing his cred. PR: He used to roadie for Hendrix. That reminds me; he's British. So there's that whole [chanting] U-S-A, U-S-A slant, which works in favor of Slayer. Plus, people don't walk up to other people and get in their face and yell "Motörhead!" DH: And I don't think anybody has put a box cutter to their arm to give themselves a Motörhead tattoo, but that's how almost every Slayer tattoo is done.
WINNER and MAYHEM FEST CHAMPION: Slayer