When day broke on the second day of Monster Energy Carolina Rebellion on Sunday May 3rd, fans were energetic and optimistic about the events to come. The sky was clear and the weather report was on their side, if not tending towards being a bit warmer than the day prior. As the gates opened and Rebels flooded the field, there was a palpable buzz in the air. What did this day have in store? What kind of closing performance awaited at the end of the night? As the first notes hit the air from the Jagermeister and ReverbNation stages, it became clear that the fun was only just getting started.
On the ReverbNation stage, Thrash masters Exodus kicked off the afternoon for some of the Rebellion crowd. Following vocalist Steve “Zetro” Souza rejoining the band released their tenth studio album, Blood In, Blood Out, in late 2014 and have been touring relentlessly in support of it. The Thrash Metal mavens have spent several months touring with thrash legends Slayer and Suicidal Tendencies since last Fall. The band took a special moment a few songs into their set to celebrate the birthday of guitarist Gary Holt and even presented him with a cake onstage.
At the Jagermeister stage, Starset was bringing their brand of Space-Age Rock to the Rebels. The Ohio natives’ backstory is really interesting as it incorporates elements of space, secrecy, and government conspiracy. Claiming to be commissioned by the Starset Society, an organization that claims to out the secrets and information the government does not want the American public to know about, Starset have all the makings for a cult following. Those still relatively new to the band, their sound incorporates some mainstream Rock elements with incorporated synthesized elements and violins. Their debut album, Transmissions, was released July 8, 2014 on Razor & Tie, and they continue to tour in support of it through this summer.
Veteran original Metal legends Testament helped amp things up next on the Reverb stage as they delivered a second dose of Thrash goodness. With a history of heavy shredding and ferocity, Testament, led by the fearless Chuck Billy, lit up the stage for the Carolina Rebellion crowd. The Heavy Metal quintet have been on the road with Shattered Sun and Exodus on the “Dark Roots of Thrash” tour touting the eponymously titled DVD/double album they released in 2013. The band will be spending the summer in Europe before returning to the West for Heavy Montreal on August 8th. They also plan on getting home from tour to hit the studio in the Fall and begin work on the next album. Fans can look for the album in early to mid-2016.
Putting Carolina Rebellion to the torch were Hardcore heavyweights Hatebreed. The Connecticut Hardcore legends brought their A-game as they took possession of the Jägermeister stage. Fans buckled and swelled towards the stage; leaping, crawling, and crowd-surfing over one another in attempts to reach the stage. Led by the intense, but charismatic, Jamey Jasta, Hatebreed played songs spanning their career, including fan favorites like “Live For This,” “Honor Never Dies,” and “Destroy Everything.” The band has several European dates lined up for the Summer before they embark on Motorhead’s Motorboat cruise in September.
U.K. rockers Young Guns took to the Rebellion stage, making them the first of the day on that stage. Energetic frontman Gustav Wood leapt across the stage and worked to amp up the crowd as the band powered through a highly charged set. This made their second appearance at Carolina Rebellion, having made their Rebellion debut two years earlier at the 2013 Carolina Rebellion. At that time, they were touring in support of their 2012 album Bones, hailing the anthemic and infectious title track on radio play. This year, the British bangers came with material from a new album, Ones and Zeros (2015), which is scheduled for release June 8th.
California Metal mavens Butcher Babies took to the Rebellion stage with a ferocity and passion not seen thus far. Led by the beautiful and brutal Carla Harvey and Heidi Shepherd, Butcher Babies always seem to bring a dynamic edge to every performance. Prowling the stage and interacting with fans, as well as guitarist Henry Flury and bassist Jason Klein, the frontwomen were unrelenting in their attack of the stage. Both ladies even took a moment to take to the crowd and got up close and personal with fans to the pure excitement and exhilaration of those in the front rows. Having just wrapped up touring with In This Moment on the “Black Widow tour,” Butcher Babies are gearing up for a set of tour dates with Gwar and Battlecross on Gwar’s “30 Years of Domination” tour in the Fall. Following that tour, the band will continue their work on their yet-to-be-named sophomore follow-up to their 2013 debut full-length album, Goliath.
As if there had not been enough Thrash and Heavy Metal madness, Suicidal Tendencies took to the ReverbNation stage and brought the noise and the power. The old-school crossover Thrash icons have a history of being riot makers, and Rebellion was no exception.The crowd was immediately whipped into a frenzy as the California crushers began their assault on the stage. Their unyielding energy and unwavering commitment to performance had shone through as they jumped and stomped across from one end of the stage to the next. Like many of their Carolina Rebellion performer peers, Suicidal Tendencies is headed to Europe for the Summer before returning to be a part of such festivals as Ink-N-Iron, Motorboat Cruise, and Monster Energy Aftershock Festival.
Guitarist Mark Tremonti has a reputation for excellence for his work in Creed and Alter Bridge, but at Carolina Rebellion, it was his own solo project that took center stage on the Jägermeister stage, Tremonti. Fronted by the infamous axeman himself on vocals and guitar, Tremonti entertained a crowd that consisted of newcomers as well as some obvious members of his fandom, The Army of 12. Tremonti have been promoting material from their upcoming sophomore album Cauterize, which is set for release on June 9th. In a recent interview, Tremonti has discussed not only the release of Cauterize, but of another album that the band has also been working on to follow it, titled Dust. Although the release date is still to be determined, in an interview with CrypticRock, the frontman said it would likely be released within a year.
In This Moment
Los Angeles Metal band In This Moment have been making major waves over the last year, especially since the release of their fifth studio album, Black Widow. The newest album ruffled some feathers with its change in sound direction for the once heavy-hitting band. While In This Moment still boast some incredibly powerful songs, many fans and skeptics have grown increasingly critical of the bands incorporation of EDM and synthesized elements as well as theatrical intensity. However, the always visually stunning Maria Brink and fiery-fingered co-founder/guitarist Chris Howorth maintain their allegiance to this development in sound and show. At Rebellion, fans were delighted with a barrage of visually stimulating images as the band ripped through a set consisting of “Whore,” “Adrenalize Me,” and “Blood.” The band will be spending the Summer and early Fall on the road, first on their latest leg of the “Black Widow tour” with 36 Crazyfists and Defiled, then in September with Papa Roach and Five Finger Death Punch.
The Pretty Reckless
Up next was The Pretty Reckless, fronted by actress-turned-musician Taylor Momsen. The Rock-N-Roll outfit brought a casual cool to the stage as Momsen slinked across the stage. The Pretty Reckless began in 2007 with Momsen and her Rockstar dreams and has evolved into an ensemble with a dedicated following. The band has been out in support of their 2014 release Going To Hell, recognized, in part, for its provocative cover which features the nude backside of Momsen with a black cross/arrow hybrid symbol pointing down. The cover raised a few questions and eyebrows, but The Pretty Reckless charged ahead, using the outcry as more fuel to their fire. The band is planning to release an acoustic version of Going To Hell, and Momsen says she has been working on new material for the band’s next album as well.
In their new configuration featuring the vocal stylings of Todd la Torre, Queensrÿche took to the Reverb stage next and the buzz was high. The band found themselves at odds with former singer Geoff Tate back in 2012, which led to the band releasing Tate of his duties and recruiting new vocalist Todd La Torre into the fold. With a history of hits and an infamous style, the new construction of Queensrÿche soon discovered a new path for themselves with La Torre and released their eponymously titled fourteenth studio album in 2013. Since that time, they have been touring; working tirelessly to change the perception of Queensrÿche from the days of old and bring the band into the new and developing music scene. They are reportedly working on a new album that embodies everything fans love about Queensrÿche, but the title and release date have yet to be released.
Swedish metallers In Flames took possession of the Jägermeister stage, and the crowd could not have been more pleased. The Gothenburg Metal outfit have the distinction of being among the earliest Gothenburg transplants to make major waves in the Metal scene, having come to the forefront of music in the 90s. Over the years, they have come to be regarded as the Swedish Melodic Metal pioneers. At Carolina Rebellion, they delivered a powerhouse set that stirred the crowd and invigorated fans. Their recipe for compelling Melodic Metal is both infectious and enthralling, and the Rebels were obviously feeling it. Like their contemporaries, they are also headed to Europe for the Summer to perform at such events as Wacken Open Air, Download Festival, and Hellfest.
Into The Wildlife rockers Halestorm raged out on the Rebellion stage with a massive crowd of Rebels clamoring at their feet. The Pennsylvania noisemakers came fully charged with an active set consisting of fan favorites like “Mz Hyde,” “Freak Like Me,” “I Get Off,” and their latest single from Into The Wildlife, “Apocalyptic.” The band has been working with noted photographer Rob Fenn on a photo book of their career and journey so far, To Hale and Back, which is due to be released any day now. They are scheduled for a few more U.S tour dates, including appearances at the Loudwire Music Festival and the Alternative Press Music Award, before heading overseas for Europe.
Then came one of the most highly anticipated performances of the day, Breaking Benjamin. Like Queensryche, Breaking Benjamin had been reconfigured after vocalist Ben Burnley’s controversial split with the prior members. Now boasting the talents of Shaun Foist (ex-Picture Me Broken), Keith Wallen (ex-Adelitas Way), Jasen Rauch (ex- Red), and Aaron Bruch (ex- Forever Oeuvre), Breaking Benjamin has returned triumphantly to the scene with an eagerly awaiting fans thrilled at its return. The band played Breaking Benjamin staples like “ Breath,” “So Cold,” and “Blow Me Away,” as well as the latest single, “Failure,” from their forthcoming album Dark Before Dawn. Unlike so many others, the band is keeping things stateside over the Summer and hitting a number of U.S cities and festivals including Rockfest in Cadott, WI and Monster Energy Aftershock in Sacramento, CA.
Slash featuring Myles Kennedy and the Conspirators
Up next was legendary guitarist Slash with smooth-crooning vocalist Myles Kennedy and the Conspirators. Slash, Kennedy, and the Conspirators were met with an outpouring of affection from dedicated fans who stood in awe of the axeman and company. The guys rocked their way through a set of Guns N’ Roses covers including “Nightrain,” “You Could Be Mine,” and “Paradise City,” as well as the title track from their second studio album together, World On Fire. This eclectic group of musicians have been playing together since his second solo album, Apocalyptic Love (2012), and the response has been massive. With Slash’s history of great string work and epic collaborations, it is no surprise fans turn out time and again to see his latest incarnation. The band is set to play a variety of European dates, including Graspop Festival and Hellfest, this Summer.
Slayer have always had a reputation of being legends of Thrash and Heavy Metal, and often their reputation precedes them. The incomparable Kerry King on guitar and the undeniable presence of Gary Holt and Tom Araya make watching Slayer an experience. The band has been on the road since last Fall in promotion of their upcoming album Repentless, which is set for released in September. Repentless will be the first Slayer album since the untimely death of guitarist Jeff Hanneman in 2013, will be the first to feature Paul Bostaph on drums since God Hates Us All (2001), and the first ever to feature Holt on guitar. The Thrash Metal masters ripped their way through a power-packed set that was so intense even Heidi and Carla of Butcher Babies had to get front-of-house to watch. The men of Slayer will be spending the Summer in the company of Hellyeah, The Devil Wears Prada, and more, as they headline the Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival all Summer long.
Hard Rock/Metal band Godsmack have a history of providing an alternative to your usual Rock n’ Roll. Their catalogue is rife with both radio hits and underrated fan faves. At Rebellion, they kicked open their set at breakneck speed, racing through songs from their repertoire that fans had come to love. Songs included “Generation Day,” “Cryin Like A Bitch,” “Voodoo,” “I Stand Alone,” and the title track from their sixth studio album, 1000hp. Frontman Sully Erna egged on the crowd as they sung along to song after song and he capitalized on his mini-solos and long riffs mid-song. The highlight for many in attendance was the infamous drum battle that takes place at almost every Godsmack show between Erna and drummer Shannon Larkin as they take turns facetiously trying to “one-up” the other guy in intense and complex drum solos. The guys are headed overseas for a few European dates before returning stateside for some final performances.
Finally, the moment that most of Carolina Rebellion had been waiting for had arrived, Slipknot. The notoriously intense Heavy Metal outfit took the stage to immense cheers and applause from the Rebellion crowd. The field was packed from corner to corner with anxious fans dying to catch even a glimpse of the masked men. Slipknot first began in 1995 with percussionist Shawn Crahan and bassist Paul Gray. On May 24, 2010, Gray was found dead in Urbandale, Iowa of an accidental morphine overdose. Since that time, the band has gone through some changes and worked diligently to try to continue in Gray’s absence for the sake of his memory.
On October 17, 2014, the band released their fifth studio album, affectionately titled .5: The Gray Chapter after their fallen comrade. Following the release of the album, the band toured with Korn and King 810 on the “Prepare for Hell” tour until early 2015. At Rebellion, the excitement was palpable as Slipknot covered the stage and ravaged it, led by the magnanimous and fearsome force of frontman Corey Taylor. With a set list that included songs such as “Psychosocial,” “Devil in I,” “Killpop,” and “Before I Forget,” Slipknot had fans coming over the barricades in waves of crowd-surfers, and others leaping and headbanging wildly where they stood.
So, it was with the screams of joy and excitement from amped up Rebels with their Metal appetites sated that the lights went out on the fifth annual Carolina Rebellion. With a little help from Mother Nature and by grace of the fates, the festival had avoided the fate of its companion festival, Welcome To Rockville, and even its predecessor, Carolina Rebellion 2013, and managed to stay rain-free. While some came for all that Rebellion had to offer, all left with something to remember it by. Whether it was meeting their Rock idols, getting to act out their Rock n’ Roll fantasies at Crazy Dave’s, or just having a musically bonding trip with their family or inner circle, there was something for everyone, and Rebellion delivered. We can only hope next year’s event fairs as well.