Headbangers’ Brawl is a weekly column where Metal Insider’s contributors take a moment to debate and analyze two opposing sides of a topical issue occurring in the world of metal and/or the music industry.
It’s a safe bet that the lineup to this year’s Rockstar Energy Mayhem Fest will be officially announced in the next few weeks [Update: looks like we'll have to wait till March for the official announcement]. However, rumors about the billing have slowly started to circulate around the web, while at least one band looks to be 99% confirmed. And truth be told, we just lloovvee to gossip. So with that in mind, the Metal Insider crew discusses which bands will likely appear on Mayhem Fest this year, which bands are likely not to play the touring festival, and which bands we’d like to see on this year’s bill in this week’s Headbanger’s Brawl.
Zach: Ironically, the one band Mayhem Fest organizers previously said they wanted to headline most likely won’t. Mainly because Rammstein are pretty much booked for the summer with European festivals. So though Rammstein would be a good choice for headliners, it’s safe to cross their name off the list.
Right now, there are a few names I keep hearing in the rumor mill, including Rob Zombie, Deftones, Five Finger Death Punch, Lamb Of God, Machine Head and Hatebreed. Granted, it’s more likely that two or three of the bands I just mentioned (if any) will actually end up on this year’s bill. Still, given that all of those bands (with the exception of Deftones) have appeared on Mayhem in the past, their inclusion wouldn’t be too surprising. However, Randy Blythe’s unfortunate legal woes might force Lamb Of God to put any extended touring plans on hold.
Two particular bands that I’d really like to see on this year’s Mayhem Fest, though, are Gojira and Kvelertak. Gojira released arguably the best metal album of 2012, and Kvelertak are likely to take 2013 by storm with their forthcoming album. Not only do both bands put on one hell of a show, but both could also benefit from the exposure Mayhem Fest would bring them.
Bram: I agree with both Gojira and Kvelertak. While most metal fans are at least somewhat aware of them, it’s not like either have broken through to critical mass yet. But if you’re a booze-addled 40 year old that just wants to see Rob Zombie and Lamb of God, for example, if you stumbled in to the venue and heard or saw either one of those bands, you would definitely take notice and maybe find a new favorite band.
I’m not sure if the High on Fire camp burnt through their good will by pulling themselves off of last year’s Mayhem Fest, but it’d be nice to see them on as a make-good on bailing last year. Another band that’s got the good will of the industry is Killswitch Engage. Their new album will be out by the summer, and an appearance back on Mayhem, this time with Jesse Leach in tow, would definitely be something people would want to see. It’d also be pretty cool to see The Sword on a summer festival, but I can’t imagine that’s something they would want to do.
I’d be very surprised if Lamb of God wound up on the Mayhem Fest. I guess it’s all up to the trial, but I’d have to imagine that the main stage headliners have long been approached and figured out by now, and since there are different outcomes, the LoG camp probably isn’t going to make any moves until after it’s over.
Kodi: I’d also be very surprised to see Lamb of God turn up at this stage in the game. To me, Killswitch is the easiest, safest look for Mayhem, for all of the same reasons Bram mentioned. And while Gojira and Kvelertak are both great ideas, I’d think the energy drink-swilling masses would probably have the most fun with Kvelertak given the choice between the two.
So who aren’t we thinking of here? Holy Grail is set for a nice boost in their profile this year, as Ride the Void is a major boost up from their debut and they can kill it in front of a live audience. If they boost their profile considerably during the Metal Alliance Tour, it makes a lot of sense for them to follow in DragonForce’s footsteps. And there’s a noticeable dearth of bands with hardcore- and metalcore-leaning fans in this rumor mill, which seems suspect for a tour that had All Shall Perish, The Red Chord, Trivium and Suicide Silence just two years ago. KSE would fill that out nicely, but as much of a die-hard following as they’ve gained and as hard as they tour, Periphery has the right kind of fandom and vibe to fill a major hole on the bill while having the chops to satiate the old-school heads in attendance.
But if we’re talking about the more obvious choices, Hatebreed’s recent pavement-pounding and upcoming new album just makes them seem like a lock. They’re famously capable live, they’ll have new material to burn through, and they’ll get plenty of fans dumping serious cash into the beer line and bodies into the pit.
Matt: Killswitch is probably one of the best choices for a headliner. They’ve been on a hot streak since their return and with a new album coming out, they’ll be more than a perfect fit. I wouldn’t be surprised if Rob Zombie ended up taking the slot instead, but I would like to see someone else in the headlining slot for a change (no disrespect to Rob Zombie). I also agree with the suggestion of Gojira as well, it’d be great to see them on a summer tour like Mayhem Fest. And I would never say no to having Deftones or Machine Head on the bill. You can’t really go wrong with that. Lamb Of God would no doubt be an awesome choice but, as has been said before, the likelihood of that happening is low. If they did though, it would totally rule and make for one kickass festival. I can’t really see certain bands on spring tours (Metal Alliance, Testament & Overkill, etc.) getting on board with a summer festival, though it’s still entirely possible.
For me, the fact that Behemoth is essentially confirmed is already enough to get me interested. My own vision of the lineup goes something like this: Killswitch Engage (solid headliner), Machine Head (solid veterans), Deftones (fill in a certain niche), Gojira (perfect for such a tour), The Sword (because we need a solid stoner/doom band in there), Periphery (a newer band with a rapidly growing fan base), and Kvelertak (lesser-known act with the potential to make waves and new fans).