Slayer / Motorhead / Anthrax
Mayhem Festival, Toyota Pavilion
August 4, 2012
Review & photos by Infamousbutcher
Mayhem is a US metal festival sponsored by Rockstar Energy Drink that has been around since 2008. It usually has a mix of current popular bands and some classic ones. One of the good things about Mayhem is that it always books large venues that are nearby for me, like Toyota Pavilion in Scranton, Susquehanna Bank Center in Camden, and PNC Bank Arts Center in Holmdel. If there are bands playing that I love, I can hit multiple shows. This year’s version has metal heavyweights Slayer, Motorhead, and Anthrax, which are 3 of my all-time favorite bands. Therefore, in addition to this show in Scranton, I caught the Camden one the week before as well. Today marks my 12th Motorhead show, 9th Anthrax show, and 5th Slayer show and I intend to keep adding to those totals!
Toyota Pavilion is a great place to see a show. The amphitheater has a large covered stage and seating area, great sound quality, a decent sized lawn for cheap admission, and beautiful grounds. Parking leaves something to be desired, especially for sold out events as we parked in a field and were very far away from the venue. Mayhem Festival has 3 stages, Main Stage, Jagermeister Stage, and Sumerian Stage. The Jagermeister and Sumerian stages were set up on the grounds, general admission for all.
We arrived at about 5:00, in more than enough time to catch Anthrax’s full set from the Jagermeister stage. Joey, Scott, Frankie, Rob, and Jason (Bittner from Shadows Fall, more in that in a minute) took the stage to rabid cheers and initially seemed to start with “Earth On Hell” before diving into the classic “Caught in a Mosh.” Instantly, the crowd went berserk with violent moshing, bottles and cans flying everywhere! It was the most intense crowd response I saw at either Mayhem show I attended. In the thick of everything I was doused with beer / energy drink / water at least 4 times during the 40 minute set as I moshed and banged my head. Joey sounded great, his vocals were clear and powerful and he had no trouble with the high range. Replacement drummer Jason Bittner did an adequate job laying the foundation with Frankie and keeping everyone together. He is not on the same level as Charlie Benante, who was unable to do the tour due to a hand injury. That said, I think Jason’s performance in Scranton was better than his performance in Camden and the band seems to have jelled more with him in the shows since Camden. Scott was his usual fired up self, commanding the stage and delivering good backing vocals. The set was a bit familiar if you have seen Anthrax a few times. Highlights included “Got the Time”, “Indians” (ferocious WAR DANCE!), “Madhouse”, and “I Am The Law”. Overall great little set, but Anthrax was not quite as on top of their game as they were on the Anthrax / Testament / Death Angel Tour last Fall / Winter when Charlie and Gene Hoglan handled the drumming. That was a thrash metal dream!
Now onto the Main Stage to catch living legends Motorhead! The venue seemed unprepared for the large crowd as water was running low at 6:30! Motorhead took the stage at 6:50 and blasted off with one of my all-time faves, “Bomber”! What a great choice for an opener! As always, Lemmy delivered his gargling with glass vocals up to the downturned mike perfectly while destroying us with his Rickenbacker bass! Mikkey Dee hammered away at his drumkit like an unstoppable force as the underrated Phil Campbell delivered the riffs. Up next was “Damage Case”, which has gotten a shot in the arm recently from Metallica and the LEMMY documentary. Lemmy always screws up the lyrics for this one, but it still sounds great. I really like the set Motorhead has been using this year, in addition to these two tracks we also got the classic “Stay Clean” (Motorhead song with a positive message!), 1916’s “The One to Sing The Blues” which featured Mikkey’s impressive drum solo, and the almost bluesy “The Chase Is Better Than the Catch.” The other songs were either staples (“Over the Top”, “Going to Brazil”) or classics (“Killed By Death”, “Ace of Spades”). Due to the short set length we only got one new song, “I Know How To Die” from last year’s superb THE WORLD IS YOURS. Band was very tight and together, like a well-oiled machine. One shocker though – for the first time in 12 Motorhead shows I have seen, they did not play “Overkill.” I was disappointed; I love Mikkey’s drumming during Overkill, especially when the song just won’t end. I guess Motorhead’s set time was cut a song short due to a curfew. That’s ok. Motorhead is still one of the best live bands around, delivering their brand of “rock and roll” at maximum volume! Lemmy is still the king of metal to me!
Up next was the moment we all had been waiting for, F&^KING SLAYER! Whenever Slayer is on the bill, throughout the day you will hear random Slayer cheers as fans become insane with anticipation as the day goes on. There is something about Slayer that is almost primordial, that just brings out people’s lust for violence, like watching gladiators in ancient Rome. The lights dimmed and red pentagrams were projected on the curtain as “Darkness of Christ” played in the background, indicating the opener would be “Disciple”. The curtain dropped to reveal a stage with 2 inverted crosses made of Marshall cabinets, pyros, and a hanging Eagle. Slayer crushed us with an earth shattering rendition of “Disciple” to kick things off. Tom’s screams and shouts were loud and clear. He can’t bang his head now post neck surgery, but he still looks like a hostile escaped lunatic up there foaming at the mouth as he delivers the vocals! I thought his vocals were much louder and clearer in Scranton than they were in Camden. Kerry was intensely focused churning out vicious riffs and blistering solos. Dave pounded away on the transparent drum kit with his trademark mind-blowing speed. Gary Holt from Exodus is still filling in for Jeff Hanneman due to Jeff’s recovery from flesh eating bacteria. He did a wonderful job with blazing fast riffs. Up next was a marvelous version of the classic “War Ensemble” that really got the crowd stoked up! SPORT THE WAR! I thought it was one of the best versions of “War Ensemble” I’ve ever heard. Then it was old school time with a killer “Die By The Sword” from the old SHOW NO MERCY! Later in the set we got some blasphemy courtesy of three of my old faves, “Altar of Sacrifice”, “Jesus Saves” and “Hell Awaits” complete with pyros that blazed high when Tom screamed HELL AWAITS!
The crowd response was a little passive for a Slayer show, especially compared to the Anthrax reaction earlier in the day. There was some moshing and crowd surfing but it wasn’t the usual chaos I have seen at other shows. Then I figured it out – Anthrax at the Jagermeister Stage was general admission for all tix, Slayer’s Main Stage pit was only for people who paid $65 apiece for their tickets. The banshees that went wild for Anthrax probably couldn’t afford the primo tickets, so they were probably wreaking havoc on the lawn during Slayer. I noticed Tom saving his voice a bit during “Mandatory Suicide” by whispering part of the chorus and letting the crowd sing most of the choruses during “Dead Skin Mask”. Hey, at 51 Tom is still f&^king amazing! Final songs included a devastating “Angel of Death” complete with Tom’s signature scream to kick it off, a foreboding “South of Heaven” that was awesome, and of course, the final KO punch, “Raining Blood” which Slayer always delivers with savagery and precision. Today marks another Slayer show, another killer song selection, another awe-inspiring destruction. New album is out early next year, can’t wait and I know exactly what to expect, Slayer never disappoints!
Caught in a Mosh
Got the Time
Fight ‘Em Till You Can’t
I Am the Law
I Know How to Die
Over the Top
The Chase Is Better Than the Catch
The One to Sing the Blues / Drum Solo
Going to Brazil
Killed by Death
Ace of Spades
Darkness of Christ / Disciple
Die by the Sword
Altar of Sacrifice
Seasons in the Abyss
Dead Skin Mask
Angel of Death
South of Heaven