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Slipknot Fans Fit to Be Tied at Mayhem Festival

August 6, 2008

By Dave Wedge, Boston Herald

Aug. 6–Ozzy Osbourne and his traveling troupe took a pass on the summer circuit this year and that’s turned out to be good news. Headbangers have been blessed with the Mayhem Festival, a gift from the metal gods.

It’s likely most of the acts on this 14-band onslaught would have appeared at Ozzfest anyway, but the absence of Ozzy provided an opening for the masked marauders of Slipknot to headline and the band seized the opportunity with both hands around the throat.

If there’s a bigger spectacle in music than these nine maniacs, it can’t be legal. Dressed like serial killers and prowling a nightmarish set, the twisted gang of Iowans pounded out an eardrum-shattering hour of material from its three albums and a couple scorchers from the forthcoming “All Hope is Gone,” which drops Aug. 26.

Vocalist Corey Taylor was a man possessed, alternately screaming at the top of his lungs and belting out choruses. And that’s what sets Slipknot apart: Taylor’s unmatched melodic touches, which had the packed amphitheater crowd singing along on anthemic tracks such as “Duality,”"Spit It Out” and “Psychosocial.”

Equally stunning was the percussive drive of Blister Exists, with extra slam courtesy of one band member who relentlessly smashed a beer keg with a baseball bat.

The all-day fest began with the amplified crack of Boston’s Red Chord, which incited the first of many massive circle pits. The tour’s rotating schedule unfortunately put the hometown boys onstage first, but that didn’t stop thousands from witnessing a polished 30-minute set featuring tracks from the band’s latest release, “Prey for Eyes.”

The Mayhem kicked into high gear when Alaska’s 36 Crazyfists launched its Deftones-meets-Hatebreed metalcore attack, which included the addictive “All Night Lights.” The side stage chaos was fueled by motorcycles jumping RVs and strippers hawkingT-shirts and lingerie.

Female-fronted Walls of Jericho checked in with a tight, profanity-laced hardcore set. Miami teen thrashers Black Tide showed why they have been dubbed one of metal’s next great bands. Los Angeles’ Five Fingered Death Punch, with its brass-knuckles-toting singer, was another early highlight.

Hailing from thrash’s birthplace of Oakland, Calif., Machine Head closed out the side-stage antics with a neck-snapping set of tracks from its 2007 disc “The Blackening.”

Opening the main stage was Atlanta prog-metal group Mastodon, whose ’70s-inspired sludge provided a captivating respite from the hardcore blitz. Disturbed cemented its place as the new millennial Judas Priest before ceding the stage to the day’s rightful kings, Slipknot.

MAYHEM FESTIVAL at the Comcast Center, Mansfield, Tuesday.

dwedge@bostonherald.com

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