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Reviews by Lelia Cotton | @rhymeswtequila
Interviews and photos by Lelia Cotton and Matt McCormick | @mccmatt
The Rockstar Energy Mayhem Festival may be the heaviest of heavy metal tours this summer has to offer. The main stage had some of the biggest names in the metal game, but it was the smaller stages that truly stole the show. The Coldcock Whiskey Stage was headed by bands like Suicide Silence, Miss May I, Mushroomhead, local band King810 and more.
Mushroomhead is known for their wild performances and they certainly drew too large of a crowd for such a small stage. Easily, Mushroomhead deserves a spot on the main stage. 2014 is their 21st year as a band and it’s one to remember. This year alone they have brought back some of the original gang as well as some new key guys. Now, they have three lead vocals. This is especially important as J Mann has officially rejoined the group just three months ago, after working on their latest album together.
The Righteous and The Butterfly just dropped in May 2014 and has already acquired quick success with Billboard and Hard Rock charts. Skinny claims that getting on those charts was never the goal, but “the people have spoken”. He also claims that this album was their “most honest effort” and they all naturally vibed together. After sitting down together, he said the key to their longevity success was that they’re not rockstars, their artists and they don’t take themselves too seriously. J Mann joining the group after a decade of being gone was not something they had planned, it just fell together perfectly. Their cohesiveness showed clear in the performance as it went off without a hitch. They completely owned the stage with their commanding persona and intensity of the water flying off of their drums. The large crowd was almost too excessive for the stage, as well as their vigor. In comparison to some of the Mayhem lineup, Mushroomhead are legends. They have been in the game for quite some time and their fandom showed so.
Miss May I and Mushroomhead, both from Ohio, brought in big crowds to the Michigan theater. This year was Miss May I’s first tour with the Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival. Like Mushroomhead, they has also just dropped an album, Rise of the Lion. Rise of the Lion The band got to work with Michigan’s own, Terry Date, who helped produce their album. Terry Date is known for producing albums with bands like Pantera and Deftones. Their set was filled with a heavy style of melodic metalcore riffs. The crowd was lively, taking the heat by any means possible. Rise of the Lion has shown their diverse sound with all new melodies mashed with their original thrust. The fast paced riffs and clean screaming provided the fans to be satisfied. It’s safe to say Miss May I delivered.
Overall, it was the Coldcock Whiskey Stage that owned the day. As far as reak metal bands go, the smaller stage was was completely packed with true metal bands. This lineup left the stage stacked with metalcore sounds and heavy breakdowns. This stage alone claimed the energy of the crowd and the Mayhem altogether.
Avenged Sevenfold was the main headliner for this years Rockstar Energy Mayhem Festival. While at DTE in Clarkston, MI this Thursday and they brought a whole new level of rock to the amphitheater. The heavy metal music echoed all the way to the very back near the Hilltop Bar.
Avenged Sevenfold (A7X) was hands down the best performance of the night, earning the name of a headliner easily. The dramatics of the warm to cool lighting and fire play truly set the tone for the act. The set list was a perfect mixture of old and new, keeping the massive crowd on their feet the entire time. They opened with “Shepard of Fire” from the latest album, ‘Hail to the King’. Followed by “Nightmare” and the 2005 hit, “Bat Country” off of their third album ‘City of Evil’. The army of a crowd chanted every single word to the older, yet still familiar, tune.
As they were going into their next song of the night, lead vocalist, M. Shadows told a story of why Avenged loves Detroit. He went on to say that when they were first coming around with their second album back in 2003, ‘Waking the Fallen’, no one knew who they were and no one would play their music on the radio. However, one radio station, who remained nameless for some reason, in Detroit was playing it. Shadows went on to say that they will never forget that and will always love Detroit for having great taste in music. With that being said, they wanted to dedicate the next song to Detroit. However, as he was devoting the next tune to our beloved city, his mic went out. Thankfully it was only momentarily, and he continued to introduce their dedication of “Hail to the King” to Detroit. The crowd erupted, as the tune is the #1 single off their latest album.
During the rest of the set it became apparent that after all these year, Avenged still can rock. Shadows baritone vocals have truly evolved over time. Often you hear of bands who do not sound the same or as well when performing live. This is not a problem Shadows has to worry about. Kind of funny for a guy who had apparently lost his ability to scream after a throat surgery in 2003, that never happened. This was a ridiculous rumor that was spread after the band had finished Warped Tour 2003. With that being said, in the ten years after, his vocals have matured with a harsh yet clean vocal feel.
Shadows introduced “So Far Out” and attributed it to the late and great James “The Rev” Sullivan. Sullivan was the band’s drummer, vocalist, and songwriter until 2009 when he unexpectedly passed away due to an overdose of Oxycodone, as well as Cardiomegaly (enlarged heart) that may have played a role in his death. The theater was lit up by the sole light of cell phones and lighters from the stage to the top of the hill. The mellow echo of the lyrics felt meaningful and at that moment if was apparent just how many fans still loved these guys. Which is no wonder why the band won the “Most Dedicated Fans” award at the Revolver Golden Gods Awards last year.
A7X finished their hour and half long set with a mix of jams between their albums, on a high note. Along with a three song encore that wooed the crowd with the flames and powerful, show ending drum solo.
Volumes No Sleep By: Neil Hazel (@iamneilhazel) 7/15/14 It has been three years since Los Angeles based metal act Volumes put out their debut LP VIA. It is clear that the band has taken that time to carefully refine their sound for their sophomore effort, No Sleep. One of the things that makes Volumes stand out is their use of two screaming vocalists. This allows Volumes to keep the vocal sections of their songs interesting throughout the whole CD. When the two vocalists go back and forth in sections of songs, it gives off an almost hip-hop like feel to the heavy tracks. There’s also an abundant use of clean vocals on several of the songs such as “Across The Bed”, that fit well with Volumes use of hard-hitting breakdowns and ambient guitar leads. One of the best aspects of No Sleep is how balanced it feels. Listening from start to finish feels like a really complete experience. Tracks move from heavy head-bangers like “The Mixture” and “Neon Eyes” to smooth, clean guitar led songs like “Erased” effortlessly. Combining both heavy and clean aspects within almost every track keeps the CD interesting. The only downside of the meticulous effort that Volumes put into each song is that we are only given ten tracks, two of which are instrumentals. “Vahle” is one of the standout tracks, featuring some of the slickest guitar leads on the album, coupled with a very catchy, clean chorus. No Sleep is an album that is both intricate and easy to listen to. Volumes have cemented themselves as a standout band in the metal scene. Even though it is only their second release, the band has hit their stride and improved greatly upon their prior work. If you’re looking for emotionally driven metal that will have you banging your head and singing along, then give this a listen. Let’s just hope that we don’t have to wait another three years for more. 4/5
This gallery contains 6 photos.
Once More ‘Round The Sun
By: Neil Hazel
When you want to just throw up your metal horns and headbang your troubles away, Mastodon has always been a band that can deliver. With their sixth release, Once More ‘Round The Sun Mastodon brings the metal once again. Mastodon produces a massive sound for only having four members. The bass is heavy and solid, the guitars are smooth, the riffs are sick, and the drums are crisp and tight, with just enough flair to stand out in sections. All four members of Mastodon provide vocals throughout the 11 tracks on the CD, keeping things interesting not just from song to song, but also within each song. It does seem however, that the group has left behind some of the more ferocious screams from their early albums for more radio-friendly singing. Songs like “The Motherload” contain downright catchy choruses that will have you wanting to sing along after the first listen.
That isn’t to say that Mastodon has left behind their old, sludge metal sound. “High Road” maintains that heaviness, while still adding in the cleanly sung sections. While Mastodon has always been a popular metal act, Once More ‘Round The Sun is their most radio-friendly work to date, and while this may turn off some old school Mastodon fans, it is still a solid metal album. Tracks like “Feast Your Eyes” and “Aunt Lisa” will probably appeal to more traditional metal fans. Feast Your Eyes moves at a brisk and heavy pace and contains a cool little riff section in the middle, highlighted by great bass tone. “Aunt Lisa” is one of the more interesting tracks, containing guest vocals from all-female Atlanta punk group The Coat Hangers. Use of trippy guitar and vocal effects make the track a fun song to listen to. The song ends with a chant of “Hey, oh, Let’s get up and Rock n’ Roll”, which may seem like a strange inclusion, but actually fits really well with the rest of the song.
Once More ‘Round The Sun is an extremely solid album, it just doesn’t seem like it’s taking a huge step forward for the band. The songs are still heavy, the solos still rock and in terms of technical ability, Mastodon are still some of the best musicians playing right now. While it may not be what long-time Mastodon fans were hoping for, it is an album that most metal fans will enjoy.
3.75/5 Massive Tusks
By Timothy Pontzer | @timothy_pontzer
Following a Board of Trustees meeting on Wednesday morning, George Hynd was appointed as the new president of Oakland University.
Hynd becomes the sixth person to hold the position in school history, officially taking the office on Aug. 15. He currently is the provost and executive vice president of academic affairs at the College of Charleston, a post he has occupied since 2010. Before that, Hynd served in various senior roles at Georgia, Purdue and Arizona State.
“I am looking incredibly forward to being immersed in school,” Hynd said. “I truly believe OU is a gem in higher education in Michigan. I know we are going to have a lot of fun working together.”
Wednesday’s board meeting was only a formality, with Hynd being voted unanimously to the title.
Hynd replaces interim president Betty Youngblood who took over in June of last year. Youngblood was tapped after the abrupt retirement of Gary Russi in June 2013, the very same day that his wife, then-OU women’s basketball coach Beckie Francis was fired. Russi had held the presidency since 1996.
“After Dr. Russi left, we were very fortunate to have Dr. Youngblood within our ranks,” Board of Trustees Chairman Michael Kramer said. “She guided us with confidence and continued to move the university forward. Now George will continue that. His qualifications and abilities were a natural match for us at Oakland.”
Kramer explained the process of selecting a new president involved numerous interviews with nearly a dozen candidates. In the first week of July, three finalists were announced, each of whom were once again interviewed and participated in public forums on campus with students and faculty. Hynd was selected over James Spaniolo, the higher education adviser to Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder; and Rodney Rogers, currently serving as the provost at Bowling Green.
“From the candidate’s perspective, the search committee’s process was outstanding,” Hynd said. “It was clear during the interviews that everyone felt so passionately about the school and the points of pride here at Oakland.”
Hynd said that he had his follow-up interview on July 1 and flew back home two days later. The next day he received a phone call that he had the job. However, he did not know when the decision would be announced until late Tuesday night. Kramer called Hynd and the new president boarded a midnight flight to Michigan, getting in at about 3 a.m.
“Students want to come here for all the right reasons, and I am no different,” Hynd said. “I’m ready to launch the ship.”
Hynd highlighted the various programs at OU, calling it a destination school. He remarked that he hopes to recruit his daughter –currently a senior in high school – to become a Golden Grizzly.
“When you read through the history of Oakland, Matilda Wilson had a commitment to the liberal arts,” Hynd said. “That is an incredible foundation for OU, but we also have seen a smart focus on healthcare and there is an outstanding school of education here.”
When asked what his first step would be, Hynd plans to come back before August and meet with every board member and the leadership committee. He wants to learn their aspirations for the school and start to collect some ideas moving forward. One key personal aspiration for Hynd was to see more students involved on campus.
“We really want this to be a campus community, with community in capital letters,” Hynd said. “Right now, only 14 percent of students live on campus. We need to be strategic and come up with thoughtful ways to bring in more students, because then they will be more engaged, have higher retention rates of learning, and they are more likely to graduate from here in four or six years.”
Despite only having stepped foot on campus twice, Hynd was very impressive with his extensive knowledge of Oakland. During his press conference and subsequent interviews, he routinely spouted off percentages, facts, famous alumni and more about the school where he is about to take the helm. When asked if OU could continue to grow and one day be looked at like a Michigan or Michigan State, he was quick with his answer.
“Absolutely, this school is extremely appealing in a variety of ways,” Hynd said. “Through the alumni that spread the good word around the world, they help to deliver the message that Oakland is an outstanding institution.”