Pit of Hell: Ham’s Report on Mayhem Fest 2012 from San Bernardino.

This edition of Pit of Hell is courtesy of Ham from Metal Meltdown with Ham. After spending all day there he put up a really good and comprehensive detail of the days events. So mad props to him for doing this. Be sure to check out his internet radio show Metal Meltdown with Ham on Friday Nights at 8 p.m PST on RNWZ or Bunk Radio. After the jump is his show review, most of the pics are courtesy of his friend Rich. Enjoy the review. – R.L.

So we got there about 2:00, parties looked to have already been in full force in the parking lot for several hours with metal fans blaring every type of metal known to man out of their vehicles. The smell of backyard BBQ filled the air with hot dogs and burgers being cooked by metalheads “pregaming” for what was to be the BIGGEST Mayhem Fest show EVER with over 26,000 attendees.

It was a warm day with temps right around lower to mid 90’s. Coming from the no shit desert where the temps were going to be 10 degrees higher, I took this as a welcome sign that it wouldn’t be TOO bad of a day. Of course, I and my road dog for the day (my roommate, Rich), had properly gooped-up with enough SPF50 that Powder could go out in the sun and not be affected. After 37 years on this earth and several sunburns in the past, I wasn’t trying to be a lobster after this.
So we roll up to the area where the Jagermeister stage was and metalcore heros, UPON A BURNING BODY from TX were enjoying a huge positive response from the crowd. I’m not really a big fan of this new style of metal, but even with their ‘40’s mafia Hispanic Pride image, they earned my respect. I should clarify that by “Hispanic Pride” I don’t mean there was any ethnic or racial superiority coming from them—never heard anything like that. But if you know about them, you know they are proud—which I personally support.

AS I LAY DYING put on a good set and enjoyed decent reaction, but I think WHITECHAPEL were being waited for. And when they came on they absolutely KILLED for their 40 minute set.
WHITECHAPEL is one of the few bands in this new school metalcore style that I can appreciate as they were one of the first to do this more extreme style of metalcore that I had heard. So they get props from me.

After WHITECHAPEL, I and my two buddies needed a brief break from the music and went to see METAL MULISHA do some aerobatics on dirtbikes. I’m not into dirtbikes or “extreme sports” but it was cool to see them doing their thing—and by their thing I mean literally, “aerobatics”. Check ‘em out!

ANTHRAX (as well as WHITECHAPEL and a few others) did a Mayhem Fest Promotional Poster signing where fans got to meet them and get some shit signed. Joey was in his regular stand up and awesome form by telling the girl in front of me she could take a picture with him even though security said no pictures. Everyone in ANTHRAX was happy to meet the fans including stand in drummer, Jason Bittner of SHADOWS FALL who was filling in for Charlie Benante who was unable to play due to a broken hand.

So after getting my poster signed by the almighty ANTHRAX and returning from the various merch tents where I got my MOTORHEAD and SLAYER tshirts, it was time to see the Jagermeister Stage headliners. Aforementioned fill-in drummer Jason Bittner was awesome. Having seen ANTHRAX last October in LA, I couldn’t tell that Benante wasn’t behind the kit. But you’d expect that level of quality from a band like ANTHRAX. Their 40-45 minute set was not nearly long enough. No, Joey didn’t have the headdress for “Indians”–that sucked. But he DID incite the crowd to stir up a dusty wardance… In fact, in the middle where the song breaks down, they actually stopped and Scott Ian talked some friendly motivational shit to the crowd as it wasn’t quite up to ANTHRAX’s standard. The crowd took it as a friendly kick in the ass and got into it as they should.
ANTHRAX’s set contained mostly the hits as the set length wasn’t that long—all in all a strong performance and I think anyone who is an ANTHRAX fan would be stoked to see them play.

A break in music afforded seeing several people being hauled out of the park due to being dicks, too much alcohol, and sunstroke. HYDRATE, PEOPLE! Shit, you are not 20 anymore. You can’t drink a case of beer in the parking lot, go to the show, drink more beers, get in the pit and expect to survive in 90+ degree temps without water. But, I guess us metalheads have never claimed to be the smartest in that area. I hope everyone recovered and is doing ok.
MOTORHEAD took the Main Stage in classic MOTORHEAD style and rocked out like no one’s business. It was classic Lemmy all the way. Again, all the hits were played—“The Chase is Better Than the Catch” and “Ace of Spades” among others. It’s important to note, this writer only had ONE $11, 24oz beer as I didn’t want to end up like the folks mentioned in the previous paragraph. Unlike the dudes sitting next to me, I was actually able to enjoy MOTORHEAD instead of passing the fuck out. Anyhow, at one point, Lemmy made the comment (words to the effect of, anyway), “I’d better have a drink, or I’ll get sober…” Talk about being able to have a drink with God and missing it… Oh, well… The overall positive reaction was a bit reverent to these Gods of music, I think.
MOTORHEAD is one of those bands that can play with ANYONE. Punks call MOTORHEAD punk, heavy metallers call them heavy metal… But Lemmy says they play ROCK AND ROLL. When God speaks, you must listen, so Rock and Roll is what MOTORHEAD are.

After an intermission SLAYER took the stage. Their stage setup could be looked at as maybe a bit stereotypical for a metal band if you don’t get it. But personally, I LOVED the faux Marshall stacks suspended in an upside down cross pattern on either side of drummer Dave Lombardo’s drum riser and the SLAYER Eagle above him all spitting out fire! SLAYER and fire. What else do you need? Anything less would amount to unmet expectations.
They opened up with “Disciple” off of the album, “God Hates Us All” and never looked back thrashing through songs from “Reign in Blood”, “Hell Awaits”, “Seasons in the Abyss” and more. The crowd loved it as any true SLAYER fan would and the burning of random shit began—marijuana, t-shirts lit ablaze and being swung in the pit, and the acrid scent of burning plastic and Styrofoam cups invaded our noses. I must say I appreciate the “scent” of a metal concert—though I personally could have done without the plastic and Styrofoam potpourri and settled for more weed incense.
As we all know, Jeff Hanneman is still out of SLAYER due to the spider bite he got a while back, but Gary Holt from EXODUS killed every song they played. His stage presence is unmatched as well as his playing—everything from his rhythm playing to his leads to his dive-bomb whammy bar solos were killer. But like I said about ANTHRAX, there are certain things expected of a band of SLAYER’s stature in metal. All expectations were met for this reviewer.

After an extended intermission, SLIPKNOT finally took the stage and opened with “sic”—apparently a crowd favorite. Jim Root (guitar player opposite Mick Thomson) had an exploded appendix so he was not there, but the guys from AS I LAY DYING stepped in to play guitar in his place.
SLIPKNOT’s stage show was impressive, Sid was ALL over the place including climbing up on the half-way raised percussion stand on stage left several times—once even jumping off when it was fully extended!! And it didn’t stop there—he was stage diving, crowd surfing and generally all over the stage throughout the show. Clown had chucked his beer kegs on his percussion rig backstage several times (why, I don’t know) which looked kinda cool as well—though it was kind of a “WTF?” moment. Then there was that one awkward moment when Mick (#7) was backing up on stage and tripped over Sid or Clown, head over heels. He promptly got up and continued playing after landing a full on kick to the ribs of the dude who had inadvertently tripped him up. I don’t think it was intentional to trip #7, but hey, it’s metal, there are emotions and passion running high. Shit happens.
Musically, I think SLIPKNOT is a bit weak overall (meaning I don’t know if I would see them in another concert headlining)—as I am a huge fan of thrash—but the few songs I like of them were awesome to hear live. Corey Taylor’s vox were pretty much spot on and he showed appreciation for the crowd being there and received much respect from the fans. Also, they did a tribute to Paul Gray’s memory (SLIPKNOT’s bass player who passed away in 2010 of a drug overdose).
Joey Jordison’s drumming was as tight as could be expected and it was a kick in the ass to see him perform live. I’ve always liked his style and believe he is one of the better drummers in metal.

Unfortunately, one fan passed in San Bernardino that night in the pit at the main stage—don’t know what happened, but by all reports so far it wasn’t due to violence. A heart attack is the rumor circulating. So whatever it was, one Brother in Metal is no longer here to share this thing we all love and live for. Rest in Peace, Brother.
All in all, for the ticket price, it was well worth it. There were the usual bloody noses, fat lips and such you’d expect to see people have coming out of a metal show of this size but nothing anyone who got it didn’t want. Security seemed like they were doing their job properly and with respect to the situation and didn’t noticed any bullshit from either the fans or security towards each other.
So go see MAYHEM 2012, there’s a lot of cool shit to see and you may even get turned on to a band you never thought you would have liked! SUPPORT METAL!


One response to “Pit of Hell: Ham’s Report on Mayhem Fest 2012 from San Bernardino.

  1. Great review! Going to the show in Noblesville, IN this Sunday. My thoughts on Slipknot are about the same, though they were a bit of a gateway-band for me so I do have some nostalgia for them.

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