Swastikas, Lemmy and Screaming Christians: Picking the Winner of the Mayhem Festival

This Friday, the Rockstar Energy Mayhem Festival rolls through our fair city, bringing fifteen purveyors of heavy music to the Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre. The scope of artists ranges from old-timers like Anthrax and Motorhead to young guns like The Devil Wears Prada and Asking Alexandria. These bands are not competing, but that won't stop us from pitting them against one another in a single elimination tournament. Bracket placement was chosen randomly, but winners and losers have been decided by a panel: Daniel Hill (RFT clubs editor and singer of local thrash group Cross Examination), Ryan Wasoba (RFT Music writer) and Phil Ring (guitarist of local technical metal-core band The Gorge).

Will Psychostick survive a tough first-round matchup against a band that has never expressly proven that it knows its alphabet?


Slipknot vs. Upon A Burning Body

The first battle between Mayhem's masked nu-metal headliners versus a small-stage band on the festival's sponsor label Sumerian Records raised conflict among the judges.

Daniel Hill: I cannot, in good conscience, recommend Slipknot over almost any band. Plus, I just watched the video for "Intermission" by Upon a Burning Body, and in the first ten seconds there is a shot of a bulldog wearing sunglasses. I didn't get much further in the video than that, but it was plenty to seal the deal. Phil Ring: (after hearing the "Life sucks and then you die" chant on Upon A Burning Body's "Sin City") I can't support that. Ryan Wasoba: Yeah, [UABB] could be worse, but I have a soft spot for "Wait And Bleed" by Slipknot. PR: Totally.

Winner: Slipknot

I The Breather vs. Betraying The Martyrs

An almost equal matchup of two Christ-core bands.

PR: A couple of these I The Breather riffs sound like Meshuggah ripoffs. I wonder if they think Meshuggah is a Christian band because they have a song called "New Millenia Cyanide Christ." DH: I The Breather is a ridiculous band name that had me biased against them from the start. Then, at the 59 second mark in the music video for "False Profit" the drummer does one of those entirely unnecessary stick-flip-tricks that nearly are always the mark of an asshole. RW: I think Betraying The Martyrs gets points for being from Paris. Somehow that makes the poor decisions forgivable. Which band would Jesus like more?

Winner: Betraying The Martyrs

Anthrax vs. Dirtfedd

Veteran defends itself among one of the more ambitious of Mayhem's younger acts.

DH: Despite the fact that Anthrax hasn't been relevant since I was, like, eight, they still win by a landslide based on the fact that the song "Gung Ho" is still one of the hardest rippers out there. PR: I want to like Dirtfedd, but I just can't.

WINNER: Anthrax

Psychostick vs. Motörhead

A questionable funk-metal joke band versus a group legendary enough to have been referenced in the film Airheads.

PR: Psychostick sounds like Fungus Amongus-era Incubus with Mike Patton back when he still kind of sounded like an elf. RW: There's Primus in there somewhere too, like this band raided the recycle bin on Les Claypool's computer. DH: Seriously? Lemmy! L-E-M-M-Y!

WINNER: Motörhead

Icon & Anchor vs. Asking Alexandria

Local winner of the Battle For Mayhem butts heads with modern pretty-boy screamo band.

PR: Oh my god...(Upon seeing Asking Alexandria's "The Final Episode" video) DH: Can I abstain? At least Icon & Anchor doesn't do those huge sweeping inspirational vocal parts.

WINNER: Icon & Anchor

As Shadows Collapse vs. The Devil Wears Prada

Springfield, MO's winner of the Battle For Mayhem butts heads with modern pretty-boy screamo band.

RW: I wonder if The Devil Wears Prada uses an auto-tuner live. DH: I have to go with As Shadows Collapse because I really, really don't like The Devil Wears Prada. RW: Prada's singer sounds so weird on his high screams. It's like a male comedian doing an exaggerated impression of a girl crying.

WINNER: As Shadows Collapse

White Chapel vs. Slayer

Up-and-comer endorsed by Chino from the Deftones goes against death metal legends.

PR: Whitechapel has the most interesting riffs of the new bands so far, but they're facing Slayer. RW: It's going to be tough to top Slayer in the riff department

WINNER: Slayer

NOTE: Due to the odd number of bands, As I Lay Dying receives a bye and automatically proceeds to the next round.

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