California San Bernardino Fairgrounds

It's like survivalist training for metal fans...

It’s like survivalist training for metal fans. Nestled in the desert-like town of San Bernardino, Tattoo the Earth, on its second to last date, is sporting triple digit (Fahrenheit) heat, spiralling moshpits, an endless supply of bloody noses, the stench of burning/tattooed flesh, bruised and agitated drunks struggling with security, punters cooling off in a cesspool of a fountain, and one dead rat. And then there are the bands.

Headlined by Iowa‘s nine, children of the corn, Slipknot, the ‘rock and ink’ festival features hardcore licks from Hed(pe), Amen, Sevendust, Slayer, Sepultura, and Hatebreed, and with such a line-up, it more than makes sense why it’s being held in a blazing, dustbowl, miles from Los Angeles.

Disregarding the beefcake pretty boys of Sevendust, and the goofy head banging atypical routine from Slayer, Tattoo has found itself as the hearty gathering for every angry young man around who still has a bone to pick with the establishment. It’s a venue for furious raw rawk! bands to vent their aggressions, led by the ever-inspiring battle cry of “motherfucker”.

Amen are one of these groups. Starting out with the perfect two-minute metal song, they move on to rally behind a “cops suck cock” chant, and then barrel out the biggest barrage of ferocious noise until Slipknot. Led by frontman Casey Chaos, who lives up to his name, climbing on speakers, attempting to impale himself on the drum kit, he helps make Amen Tattoo‘s answer to At The Drive-In.

Slayer though, follow the intense spirit, awkwardly, almost determined to get through their set, in the most standard rock overlord fashion as possible. Bang head here. Stomp across stage there. Throw in the hits. Dedicate ‘Necrophilliac’ to the ladies. Nostalgia brings out the devil signs, an inclination by the crowd to burn things and throw a dead rat on stage, but it still plain old sucks.

Luckily Slipknot, in nuclear black suits, if you’re keeping track, are still young enough to be angry, and – like model superheroes – lead mass frustration through song, very loud song. No. 8 takes time out to vent out a challenge to Slipknot‘s critics between songs and then jump in where they left off, eking out those last bits of pent-up aggression before unleashing everyone into the night. For some it’s a rock show, for others, cheap therapy.