You know those nice little rock tours where you bring the whole family, picnic in the sun, and everyone has a nice wholesome little time? Well, the Mayhem Festival isn’t one of those. Coming your way is one of the most fearsome packages ever assembled, a day of ear-splitting, gut-wrenching and just plain crazed music. Which we are of course glad to salute with a DLC eight-pack, 'cause six just wasn’t enough.
Headlining the tour are two of parents’ most-feared acts: Slayer and Marilyn Manson. “Black Magic” is a vintage Slayer track that first appeared on their 1983 debut, and one of the tracks from which all that is thrash descends. We’ve play-tested this one a few times and can promise it’s the most fun when you have a singer willing to hit the death-defying high notes, or make a fool of him/herself trying. Manson’s “Disposable Teens” is a key track from his 2000 rock opera Holy Wood, a disc whose grim futuristic theme still allowed for fun rockers like this one.
Even more notorious is Cannibal Corpse, a band spawned from Buffalo, NY of all places, who’ve consistently tested the limits of what you can sing about in a T-rated game. They’re credited as the first death-metal band to get an album on the Billboard charts. One of their catchier numbers, if you can call it that, “Hammer Smashed Face” is a killer tune in more ways than one. We take no responsibility for its effect on your vocal cords.
Visiting from way out of town are Behemoth, Poland’s resident monsters of death metal. The lightning-fast “Conquer All” comes from their 2005 album Demigod, part of their career-long assault on organized religion.
It wouldn’t be a summer festival without a few hot new bands. Mayhem’s got 'em and so do we. Hailing from beautiful Knoxville, Kentucky, Whitechapel was playing to locals at their neighborhood rec center BBQs a few years ago. Today they’re signed to Metal Blade, the same label as some of their heroes. Their song "This Is Exile" comes from the album of the same name. The band’s name — which sounds nice until you realize it was the part of London where Jack the Ripper did his business — should show where they’re coming from.
Fellow Southern rebels Job For a Cowboy come from Glendale, AZ and have lately been tearing it up on tour with Megadeth. “Embedded” comes from their album Genesis, but don't expect anything like Phil Collins. That album, by the way, became the highest charting metal debut since Slipknot’s nearly a decade earlier.
The Black Dahlia Murder take their name from a grisly, unsolved case involving a '40s film actress. On “What a Horrible Night to Have a Curse” they unleash their impossibly high-voiced lead singer and the kind of ridiculously manic drums that remind us of why we invented this game. Finally, New Jersey marauders God Forbid want you to think a little while you play. Their track comes from a concept album Earthsblood, which deals with global warming and other threats to the planet. If that doesn’t sound like fun, rest assured that the heavy guitar riff on “Empire of the Gun” does.