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Concert Photography, Music

Photos: Rockstar Mayhem Festival @ Molson Ampitheatre

By: Laura Molinaro (@Laura_Molinaro5) –

Despite Toronto’s rolling blackouts as of late, the Rockstar Energy Mayhem Festival at the MolsonAmphitheatre went off without a hitch. It was the perfect day for any diehard metalhead in that it featured some of metal`s most prominent and promising bands. It was also a great time for the casual fan (apparently this exists) because they got a taste of everything the genre had to offer. What you can always count on at a metal show is infectious intensity and an unforgettable experience.  By the end of it all, 10 hours straight of pure metal was hardly enough!

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Rob Zombie
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As technicians tested the pyro and screens from behind a black curtain covering the stage, it became clear that Rob Zombie`s stage set-up would be no joke. When the curtain was finally dropped, LED screens adorned every inch of the stage as they played footage of  the titular 1920`s horror classic as “Teenage Nosferatu Pussy”. The band dressed themselves in typical Gothic/Medival garb as Zombie stood perched atop a zombie skull barking down at the people below—and they loved it.  Following was “Meet the Creeper” accompanied by trippy visuals and pyro. Zombie pulled out all the stops to make it known that this was definitely a spectacle.

Apparently the Toronto stop of the festival featured the lowest number in attendance on the tour. Before breaking out into fan-favourite “Living Dead Girl”, Zombie made it known that despite the low attendance, they would still bring it. “What do I care, I can`t see the people in the back anyways!” To be fair, at this point of their set, it seemed as though no one was in the back. All 7,000 fans in attendance left their seats and rushed the stage. During a brief pause, when Zombie changed into his dead Uncle Sam costume as John 5 played a short riff of “O Canada”. When Zombie returned the band dropped red, white and blue balloons on the crowd during their cover of Grand Funk Railroad`s “We Are An American Band”.

Next up was “More Human Than Human” which featured a giant robot mascot, a smoke machine and bubbles, which only Zombie could pull off. The band`s most immediate new single “Dead City Radio” came next followed by  “1965″ which saw John 5 taking centre stage for a blistering guitar solo. Ending the show on a definite high note; they closed with crowd-pleaser “Dragula”. After the confetti bursts and pyro explosions, it would have been greedy to have asked for anything more.

 

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Mastodon
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Mastodon’s approach was more barebones than Amarth’s. For one, the only visible set was the half-hidden Five Finger Death Punch set. A skewered clown head atop the drum kit was probably the only embellishment; save for the drummer’s insane punchy fills. This was a band all about the music. In fact, they never once addressed the audience.  Unfortunately, there were some mixing slips during the set that saw lead guitar chiming in a few decibels too high. Troy Sanders, the band’s bassist, who shared vocal duties with Brent Hinds, was seemingly always in “frontman” mode; even when away from the mic. His antics, prowess and energetic delivery by far outshone the rest of the band who remained stationary throughout the set (not that the drummer could help it!). Despite a few blips, Mastodon managed to sound colossal with their grimy riffs and rhythmic breakdowns.

 

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Amon Amarth
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After several hours of wandering between temporary stages, when the crowd finally reached the main stage in the Molson Amphitheatre for Amon Amarth, they were certainly not let down. For their 30-minute set, they spared no expense and had a smoke breathing dragon-headed Viking boat set on which the drummer was perched. However, this wasn’t nearly as Nordic as their long blonde locks windmillingabove their scaling riffs. In honour of the band’s latest album Deceiver of The Gods, entering the Canadian Billboard chart at number nine upon its release last month, they played the album’s title track. Throughout the set, the crowd chanted and gave it all back to the band.

 

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Scorpion Child
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Unfortunately, Scorpion Child’s set on the Sumerian Stage coincided with Machine Head’s, performance, but due to the many Led Zeppelin comparisons a lot of people went over to check out what this rising band’s hype is all about. This isn’t just hype for the sake of hype; Scorpion Child have the sound to back it up! The immensely classic rock sounding “Polygon of Eyes” proved to be a highlight.

 

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Battlecross
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A testament to Mayhem Fest’s great execution was that there wasn’t a moment of downtime between the back-to-back sets on the side-by-side stages. Exile turned into Battlecross seamlessly. Sequentially, this worked very well as Battlecross served to build on the intensity. It also helped that by this time the festival grounds were filling up. The band, who describe their sound as “Blue Collar Thrash Metal”, released their sophomore album War of Will only just the day before and played the heavy riff laden “Force Fed Lies” off of it to a great response.

 

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Huntress
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Starting the festival off on the wrong foot was the Californian, female-fronted Huntress. In a cape and with gnarly looking dreads it soon became apparent that, at this point in their career, Huntress are still posturing what it takes to be a metal band. To the point of parody. But make no mistake, frontwoman Jill Janus meant every lyric she sang and you wouldn’t want to mess with her as her piercing battle cries soared above her band`s attacks. But as much as she tried, the crowd wasn’t feeling it and the scorching heat didn’t help. This is a band reaching for greatness, which is commendable, but at this point it was just awkward to watch and it soon became clear why they had such an early time slot. The set’s highlight proved to be “I Wanna Fuck You to Death”, from their new album Starbound Beast, which they released earlier this month, and it was co-written by Lemmy of Motorhead.

 

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Machine Head
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Of all the bands performing on the Jagermeister and Musicians Institute stages, Machine Head was the first with a full-blown stage set. The whole crowd was transfixed on the riffing interplay of the dual guitars. On whole, Machine Head were consummate performers.  The band played the likes of “From This Day” and “Halo”. They were even so bold as to feature the first slow, clean vocal, soft section of the day which was a great contrast the outburst of a breakdown that followed.

 

 

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Children of Bodom
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Before their performance, the hype surrounding Finnish melodic death metal quintet Children of Bodom’s set forced the crowd density to boil over. The band opened with “Hate Crew Deathroll” which led into a sample of an American Psycho monologue. Right as “Bodom Beach Terror” ended, a plane took off and soared above in unison with the screeches that were slowly petering out. Their set had a nice mix, with vocals coming across in a clear, crisp growl. Most impressively, lead vocalist Alex Laito also doubled as a lead guitarist. His layered shredding and tapping solos were as entertaining to watch as they were mind-numbing. On “Blooddrunk”, a circle pit formed creating what can only be described as a monstrous experience.

 

 

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Job for a Cowboy
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Gargled vocals, soaring solos, propelling drums and a passionate delivery were all elements to their set that made it stellar. The crowd was brutal; as was frontman Jonny Davy who drank Jager from the bottle throughout their set. Apparently it was guitarist Tony Sannicandro`s birthday and in his honour a circle pit formed, which only widened as the band broke into “Constitutional Masturbation”.

 

 

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Emmure
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American deathcore band Emmure played a set that went off well with the crowd breaking out into a large pit multiple times throughout the set. Most notable were their start/stop rhythmic breakdowns.

 

 

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Butcher Babies
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Butcher Babies featured dual female vocalists taking on the high and low roles. Despite the many bright pink Butcher Babies stamps on awkward body parts seen throughout the festival, the crowd just didn’t seem to be feeling it. Two songs in, much of the crowd dissipated to the Sumerian Stage. Ending with “Axe Wound” proved to be the sets saving grace.

 

 

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Born of Osiris
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When Born of Osiris took to the stage it became apparent that there were mixing issues, with the system topping out at the high end. That being said, frontman Ronnie Canizaro commanded the crowd. Much of the band`s output featured intricate riffing, dynamic drumming and intense breakdowns. The call-back choruses went over well. The crowd was very responsive to the band`s new single “Machine”. The last song of the set was “Recreate”.

 

 

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Motionless In White
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Early on in their set, Motionless in White played their best known track “Immaculate Misconception” to a great reception. The crowd passionately chanted back at frontman Chris “Motionless” Cerulli all the way through. They went on to dedicate their performance of “Sick from the Melt” to tour-mates Machine Head. It’s notable that they were more melodic and electronic (with prominent synths) than most of the other bands, however, they proved themselves with their intense performance.  A sizable pit formed as a larger crowd started to gather. Suitably, they played “Underdog” next. America”, from their  2012 album Infamous, which ended the confrontational set with a bang.

 

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