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Counterpoint: Next motherfucker’s gonna get my metal. Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival - August 4, 2009 - Comcast Center, Mansfield, Massachusetts.

By: MetalGeorge Pacheco


When MetalGeorge showers praise upon your band, you'd best be smiling. Right, Howard?

COUNTERPOINT—I won’t bore anyone with any needless recaps of the day’s festivities, as my main man (and boss) Mr. Gehlke pretty much nailed the whole sha-bang on the head. I would like, however, to reiterate a couple of points mentioned within David’s review which I thought were paralleled during my own Rockstar Mayhem experience at the Comcast Center in Mansfield.

First things first: Killswitch Engage stole the show—there’s no doubt in mind. While it feels a bit weird watching what is essentially a “hometown success story” holding a capacity crowd in the palm of their hands—illuminated against the setting sun by a wealth of pyrotechnic bombast, I might add—in other ways…it just seems kind of “right.” It’s right because Killswitch craft anthems which simply work perfectly in an arena like this; literally and figuratively.

While there does exist valid criticism that the band has merely photocopied the End Of Heartache blueprint for their two follow-up LPs (I consider myself to be among those critics, actually), the fact remains that The End Of Heartache is an INCREDIBLE record; quite possibly the apex of what Mall-metalcore could and should be, at the end of the day.

Think about it: how many amongst us can’t identify with the grooves of “Take This Oath,” “When Darkness Falls,” “A Bid Farewell,” or the epic sing-a-long power of said album’s massive title track. If you answered “no”, then I wonder whether you’re just afraid to admit it, because—let’s face facts—Killswitch Engage create ANTHEMS, like it or not.

The rabid Mansfield crowd responded in kind, laughing at guitarist Adam Dutkiewicz’s now-legendary stage antics, while also going ballistic to the band’s serious-as-a-heart attack riff attack. Voices screamed and sung in unison with the roar of Killswitch’s burly frontman, The Howard Jones, while fists and horns stretched upwards towards the sky, loud and proud.

What struck me the hardest about Killswitch’s set, however, was the absolutely bonkers response offered up for the band’s monstrously popular Dio cover, “Holy Diver.” From the moment the song’s introduction left Jones’ lips, and guitarists Dutkiewicz and Joel Stroetzel kicked into the song’s inimitable first riff, the place went absolutely fucking apeshit.

It was then that I realized exactly how massive Killswitch Engage has become over time. I say this because I’m pretty sure—based upon the number of youngsters in the audience—that there was a good chunk of the crowd who were simply stoked to hear Killswitch play “Holy Diver”, and only knew of Dio’s version from their parents’ record collection, or car stereo. This placing the band in an interesting and enviable position of truly having arrived: at this point, Killswitch Engage have truly become a metalcore institution, the influential standard to all bands of their ilk.

Speaking of institutions…Slayer. SLAYER. I’ll admit it; I was super stoked to see Slayer on this evening. Even though I’ve seen the thrash metal legends a number of times in the past, I was nevertheless jazzed out of mind to watch the Araya/King/Hanneman/LOMBARDO lineup lay waste to the Comcast Center, and show all the new jacks how it’s done.

Imagine, then, my abject horror and disgust to find a group of old ‘n slow men on the stage, standing in the shadows of gods who once walked the earth. Lombardo excluded, the act who was masquerading as Slayer on this night was a sluggish, sad shell of its former self, delivering very little of the Satanic goods to their legendarily devoted fanbase. The band which has always been known for its live prowess for all of these years is finally starting to show its age.

Of course, I’ve never proclaimed to be the biggest Slayer fan in the world—I’ve always felt them to be a little overrated, and far inferior to their peers in Metallica—but to be let down this far, particularly when I was so excited for a new studio LP from the boys…well, let’s just say I’m not anticipating World Painted Blood as much as I was before watching Slayer’s abortion of a set.

I can forgive the band for kicking their set off with the atrocious title track from God Hates Us All. I can respect them for resurrecting “Born of Fire” off of Seasons In The Abyss, and tossing into the set list. However, what good is a moldy oldie like that, when the performance is so sloppy? This is the only word I can use to describe Slayer’s live show, and—from the looks of things—I’m not alone in my feelings. Legitimate metal gems such as “Hell Awaits”, “South Of Heaven” and “Angel Of Death” were rendered almost unrecognizable by Araya’s dry vocals, King/Hanneman’s sub-par playing, and a sound mix which rendered anything which was audible into a complete, marble-mouthed mush.

The only saving grace of the set was Lombardo’s extended drum-outro to “Angel Of Death”...that was it. Other than that, I’m sorry to say that Slayer was a total bust on this night. Looks like it may be time for the band to join Anthrax out on the breadline.

Of course, Slayer’s fanbase are also known to be notoriously close-minded to anything other than SLAYER, aren’t they? That being said, Mansfield’s response to the band’s set was predictably nuts, and much of the crowd leaving before Marilyn Manson’s set. This, dear readers, is where I have to differ with my humble editor’s review. Ya see—having been a massive Manson fan in my Doc Marten-ed, nailpolish-ed teenage years—I was immensely excited to finally see The Man in person.

I was not disappointed. For all of those souls who departed the Comcast Center early, I wish I could explain the set you missed out on: this WAS Rock ‘n Roll. Sure, Manson’s shock rock tactics may not possess either the punch or popularity as they once did upon a time, but—judging by The God Of Fuck’s performance on this night—I sure couldn’t tell. The danger was still there in spades, and Manson’s electric stage presence held this writer fixated the whole time.

Sure, I would’ve personally loved to have heard some material from the certifiably classic/influential Portrait Of An American Family opus aired, but—and this is the kicker—it didn’t even matter. Marilyn Manson’s set was that damn good, and easily kept my interest from first note to last. In fact, I even went back—in the subsequent days following the gig—to invest in Manson’s more recent studio output, and found myself blown away by how consistent the man’s actually been over the years.

So there: I’ve said my piece If you missed Manson, you missed out. --m/G.


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