While heavy metal rules the festival scene in Europe with behemoths like Wacken and Download, the biggest festivals in America feature little if any metal music. The exception is Bonnaroo, which has unyieldingly maintained a metal presence for a number of years. Past metal performers at Bonnaroo have included Metallica, Opeth, Mastodon, and Meshuggah. Bonnaroo 2015 doesn’t break that trend, pulling from a wide range of metal sub-genres and generations to keep Bonnaroovian metalheads happy. Here are the best metal offerings from the Bonnaroo 2015 lineup.
Topping Bonnaroo’s stellar metal offerings are thrash metal pioneers Slayer. Considered one of the “Big Four” of thrash metal, Slayer never got the mainstream fanbase of Metallica or Megadeth or the crossover audience of Anthrax, but they are the band among the Big Four who has stayed most true to their thrash metal roots. After overcoming the 2013 death of founding guitarist Jeff Hanneman, Slayer has returned with new music. As is only fitting for a band like Slayer, Bonnaroo has given the legends one of their coveted Late Night performance slots.
Between the Buried and Me
Following in the footsteps of Slayer is no mean feat, but if anyone can manage it’s Raleigh natives Between the Buried and Me. Since releasing their first album in 2002, Between the Buried and Me has become one of the hottest tickets on the metal circuit. Through their highly technical songs and high energy live shows, Between the Buried and Me is sure to draw a significant crowd at Bonnaroo 2015.
Unlocking the Truth
If anyone tells you metal is dead, point them in the direction of Unlocking the Truth. This trio of thirteen year old New Yorkers started performing together on the streets of Brooklyn, with the resulting Youtube uploads by surprised passers by drawing buzz until they were signed to a five album contract by Sony. But don’t mistake Unlocking the Truth for a novelty band. These young men have already wowed audiences at festivals like Coachella with their classic heavy metal vibe with a modern twist. Scheduled to perform on Bonnaroo’s first night, dedicated to rising young performers, Unlocking the Truth comes ready to compete with artists twice their age for audience share.
Arkansas seems like an odd place for the next generation of doom metal superstars to originate from, but that’s exactly where Pallbearer got their start. The band’s 2012 full-length debut album, Sorrow and Extinction found both commercial and critical acclaim, winding up on the “Year’s Best” collections of publications like Pitchfork and NPR. The group roared back in 2014 with Foundations of Burden, which got equal acclaim. Among next generation metal fans, Pallbearer is a favorite and sure to be a popular draw at Bonnaroo.
Bonnaroo’s intimate Club Stages seem like an odd fit for metal bands, with their cushioned seating and acoustic vibe, but they have played host to a surprisingly strong metal lineup in the past few years and 2015 doesn’t deviate from that, bringing San Antonio based alt-metal newcomers Nothing More to the Club Stage for what is sure to be a packed house.
Bonnaroo 2015 will be held June 11-14 at Great Stage Park in Manchester, Tn. Headlining the festival will be Billy Joel, Mumford & Sons, and Deadmau5, with performances by Robert Plant, Tears for Fears, and Alabama Shakes among others. You can see the full lineup and purchase tickets here.