Your Guide to This Year's Mayhem Fest

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Last week, I told you all about the Summer Slaughter Tour which blew through the House of Blues this past Saturday, and alluded to the numerous metal tours still to come up. Well, you may have just had your ass kicked last weekend, but it's already time for another one. This weekend's fest is the Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival, or more simply Mayhem Fest.

The long-running tour features a much bigger and more populist lineup than Summer Slaughter's niche metalcore, but even then it might leave you in the dust with the amount of names and various styles. That's why I'm once again here to help and provide you with all you need to know about Saturday's headbanging madness.

Scorpion Child Scorpion Child is an Austin band that recently signed with Nuclear Blast Records and will headline this year's Sumerian Records stage. They sound a whole lot like Led Zeppelin by way of David Coverdale, and sing about hard living and hard women. For the classic rocker, this is the perfect young band to restore your faith.

Motionless in White Motionless in White spend a lot of time worrying about appearances in comparison with most metal these days, but if you're a fan of the gothic industrial metal of early Marilyn Manson, you'll probably dig them pretty hard. They're a fair bit better than Manson these days anyway.

Born of Osiris For all of you out there who didn't get enough of technical and progressive death metal at Summer Slaughter, meet your Mayhem Fest favorite: Born of Osiris, which combines brutal deathcore riffs with synths and extreme technicality to create a perfectly deranged fusion that will satisfy fans of any of those traits.

Emmure Though often compared to Limp Bizkit, Emmure is actually a lot closer to the roots of metalcore, when it was a whole lot more emo and angry. Despite the band's badass posturing, most of their lyrics perfectly express teenage angst and heartache. They also just have a lot of fun breakdowns, so if you're down for that, you'll be down for Emmure.

Children of Bodom Though often criticized for incorporating power-metal and neoclassical influences, as well as some pretty bad lyrics (they have an album called Blooddrunk), Children of Bodom remain one of the most important extreme metal bands around.

It's not often a band featuring screaming and guitar sweeps ends up charting at No. 22 on Billboard, after all. If guitar solos are your thing, you also cannot go wrong with front man/guitarist Alexi Laiho, whose technical prowess practically overshadows his band's songwriting.

Job For a Cowboy Job For a Cowboy will always be most known for having pretty much invented the metal subgenre of deathcore, but they've worked hard to make a name for themselves over the years amongst their legion of imitators. Today they're one of the best-known and most beloved pure death-metal bands around, having stripped away much of the "core" from their sound.

Machine Head Like a lot of bands on this list, Machine Head has fought against insurmountable odds and genre labels. Having come to prominence in the late '90s, they unwisely jumped on the nu-metal bandwagon and almost ruined their career. However, they clawed their way back to prominence as a leading force in the "New Wave of American Heavy Metal" along with bands like Lamb of God, playing straightforward, fast metal for those who never liked all those subgenres anyway.

Amon Amarth Basing much of their music on either Lord of the Rings or Norse myth, Amon Amarth has been, for better or worse, called Viking metal. If the Renaissance Fair gets you going, you're probably ready to ride into battle with these guys already. Others could do well to ignore the lyrics, as they're actually a really good melodic death-metal band aside from the gimmickry.

Mastodon Mastodon is all over the place. Starting their career with extreme-metal opuses, they peaked in that phase with the more melodic but still brutal Blood Mountain. Then they decided to be a prog-metal band for an album on Crack the Skye.

For their most recent and most successful yet, The Hunter, Mastodon went in a straightforward hard-rock direction influenced by Ozzy Osbourne and Queens of the Stone Age. Depending on what their set list looks like, Mastodon could appeal to any number of different audiences.

Five Finger Death Punch

Having watched Five Finger Death Punch evolve from being an upstart band mostly reviled by "core"-loving scene kids to one of the biggest names in pure heavy metal today, it's a bit bizarre to see them second-billed on Mayhem Fest and doing songs with Rob Halford. Nevertheless, they've established themselves firmly and if you're a fan of both new and old metal, you'll probably be into it.

Rob Zombie As a massively famous and influential metal star and director, do I even need to introduce Rob Zombie? I'm betting you already have a strong opinion on him, but if you don't, here's your chance to check out the foremost practitioner combining horror and classicist metal. Not to mention, his iconic live show has become a modern-day Alice Cooper bonanza that you owe it to yourself to see even if you don't like his music.

The Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival invades the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion Saturday, August 3. Gates open at 1 p.m.

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