Concert Review: Mayhem Fest at Blossom

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No doubt about it. Slipknot stole the show at all-metal Mayhem Fest, which touched down at Blossom yesterday. The band’s music might not provide much in the way of artistry (it’s the aural equivalent of getting hit by a baseball bat on the head), but the guys can certainly command the stage. They were the loudest and heaviest act to play during the course of the 10-hour metal fest. And that’s saying plenty since they went up against a long line of heavy hitters. The masked men made the most of their multi-tiered stage as they ran through what appeared to be choreographed set and literally ignited a series of high-octane explosions. Their bright red jumpsuits looked sharp — even from the lawn area, the band’s visual display was striking.

While Mayhem offered up any number of new young bands out to tear it up and make a statement (the San Antonio deathcore act Upon a Burning Body got the mosh pit going while playing the Sumerian side stage in the hot mid-day sun), the veterans held their own. Playing on a side stage even though their musical pedigree suggests they could be a main stage act, Anthrax played with unbridled energy. Maniacal singer Joey Belladonna had the crowd chanting in unison to songs like “Antisocial” and “Indians” and was clearly enthused to be playing Cleveland. “We love it here,” he told the audience, adding that the band has played Northeast Ohio regularly since forming some 20 years ago.

Playing on the main stage, Motorhead also held its own. Singer-bassist Lemmy Kilmister and crew proved once again that they are the most powerful power trio in the universe. While the drum solo was a distraction in the band’s short 50-minute set, the group played with a definite swagger, especially on its signature track, “Ace of Spades.” Slayer, which played after Motorhead and before Slipknot, also delivered a strong set that was amplified by the bone rattling sound. Clearly louder than Motorhead, the band played in front of two floor-to-ceiling stacks of amps arranged into upside down crosses. Though singer-bassist Tom Araya now has a bit of gray in his beard, the speed metal band hasn’t slowed and included a spot-on rendition of the classic track “South of Heaven” in its encore.

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