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Concert Reviews:
Heavy metal Mayhem reigns supreme at DTE
 

By GARY GRAFF
of the Oakland Press

» See more SOUND CHECK

INDEPENDENCE TOWNSHIP -- Courtesy of Disturbed singer David Draiman, Detroit Rock City was re-christened Detroit Metal City on Saturday (Aug. 6), and none of the 15,000 headbangers at a sold-out DTE Energy Music Theatre minded the change.

It was apropos, of course; coming a day after the smaller-scale but perhaps even more extreme Summer Slaughter Tour stop at Saint Andrews Hall, the Rockstar Energy Mayhem Festival filled DTE with more than nine hours of bone-rattling breakbeats, lightning strike guitar riffs, guttural vocals from the depth of the river Styx and mosh pits in the parking lot -- where Mayhem's auxiliary stages were located -- and on the lawn. Even a late-afternoon rainstorm didn't dampen the day for the heavy metal-loving hordes.

There was also a slightly serious tenor on this year's main stage as well, where the show's headliners allowed current events to creep into its high-octane celebrations. Disturbed dedicated "Indestructible" to the 31 U.S. troops who were killed earlier Saturday in Afghanistan. Godsmack frontman Sully Erna sent "The Enemy" out "to the U.S. of A. for killing" Osama Bin Laden in May.

And Megadeth's astute Dave Mustaine, who was once an MTV political commentator, lashed out at the U.S. Congress over the recent debt ceiling crisis -- "They burned all of us," Mustaine noted. "We're a step away from dictatorship." He also told the DTE crowd "don't be sleeping when 2012 comes around," although it was unclear if he was referring to the presidential election (likely) or the predicted end of the world (with metal, you never know...).

Mayhem also gave the assembled metalheads a chance to love up a couple of bands whose futures are uncertain. Draiman has announced that Disturbed will be taking a lengthy, open-ended -- but not acrimonious -- hiatus after the tour, so Saturday's hour-long set was a fists-in-the-air farewell for the time being. The show was had plenty of visual punch -- a large video board and frequently deployed fire pots -- but Disturbed's performance was just as impactful, pulling five songs from 2010's "Asylum," the Chicago quartet's fourth consecutive No. 1 album and covering quite a bit of ground from the rest of its career, including favorites such as "Ten Thousand Fists," "Liberate" "Down With the Sickness" and a medley that included "Fear," "Meaning of Life" and "Numb."

Godsmack, meanwhile, is in a bit of limbo while it's members pursue other interests -- Erna as a solo artist while the other three play in their band Another Animal -- but the Boston quartet was still able to come together for an hour of what Erna called "some good ol' fashioned whoop-ass rock 'n' roll." (He also took a shot at Disturbed, nothing that Godsmack "brought no video, no (bleeping) pyrotechnics.") The 11-song set mixed angsty, leaden paeans with levity as Erna -- who claimed to be drunk on tequila -- played jovial carnival barker; at one point he held his microphone stand too low over the crowd, allowing a fan to grab it and sing a verse of "Voodoo;" and he joined bandmate Shannon Larkin in a long dual drum solo that included bits of AC/DC's "Back in Black," Black Sabbath's "War Pigs," Jethro Tull's "Aqualung" and Rush's "Tom Sawyer."

Megadeth and fellow main-stager Machine Head both used parts of their set to look forward to the future. Megadeth played "Public Enemy Number One," part of a batch of new songs it worked on during a recent break from touring, while Machine Head offered up "Locust" from "Unto the Locust," the Oakland, Calif., quartet's seventh album, which is due out Sept. 27.



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