Rock on the Range: 5 can't-miss acts at this year's festival

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

Darkness will converge on Columbus when the hard rock-loving Rock on the Range — an annual celebration of all things loud and/or menacing — takes over Mapfre Stadium for three days beginning on Friday, May 15.

This year’s headliners include metal legends Judas Priest, masked madmen Slipknot and aggro rap-rock howlers Linkin Park, while the undercard features a mix of MCs (Yelawolf, Tech N9ne), rock radio retreads (Papa Roach, former Stone Temple Pilots singer Scott Weiland, performing here with his new band the Wildabouts) and teenage TV stars turned electric tape-clad punks (Taylor Momsen’s The Pretty Reckless). Here are the five acts we’re most excited to catch this weekend:

The Dillinger Escape Plan (4:15 p.m. Friday, May 15)

The title of the Jersey hardcore crew’s latest, One of Us Is the Killer, doubles as an admission, and the five bandmates spend a bulk of the album recreating the crime scene, layering together stabbing, fast-twitch guitars, bludgeoning drums and blood-curdling howls. Musically, there’s more focus on melody and songcraft than on past albums, though songs like “Paranoia Shields” and the spastic “Understanding Decay,” which erupts into a coordinated temper tantrum at its close, hint at the band’s prog-rock roots.

Marilyn Manson (8 p.m. Friday, May 15)

Marilyn Manson is no longer, to paraphrase a classic Onion headline, going door-to-door trying to shock the neighborhood. A recent Rolling Stone profile pegged the Boy Who Was Brian Warner as more of an eccentric than a demonic Pied Piper leading America’s youth to the gates of Hell, detailing everything from his friendship with Johnny Depp to his gym routine (“Treadmill, 10 minutes; arms, legs, on machines, no free weights”). Though Manson’s personal life might be (comparatively) settled, his namesake band still sounds like it can do some damage on its latest, the bluesy, sinister The Pale Emperor.

Ministry (7:15 p.m. Saturday, May 16)

The industrial pioneers still turn out thundering songs centered on mechanical rhythms that mimic the sledgehammer thump of an operational metalwork shop — an intensity further heightened by the graceless, attacking vocals of frontman Al Jourgensen, who launches himself at targets (many political) with wild animal ferocity. The group reunited in 2011 following a three-year hiatus, though Jourgensen has stated in interviews the band’s 2013 album From Beer to Eternity will be its last, owing to the 2012 death of guitarist Mike Scaccia. Catch them now in case he holds to this word.

Judas Priest (9:40 p.m. Saturday, May 16)

The high Priests of metal revealed they still had plenty of fire left in the tank on their latest, Redeemer of Souls, released in 2014, a throwback effort that finds the long-running crew celebrating victory at the end of an exhausting fight (“Battle Cry”) and singing of bodies risen from the grave (the hard-charging, aptly titled “Metalizer”). Both stand as apt metaphors for the Rob Halford-fronted Brits, who have carved out a 40-plus-year career marked by occasional pitfalls (see: the Tim “The Ripper” Owens era) and an earned admiration for its impressive body of work.

Rise Against (8 p.m. Sunday, May 17)

The Chicago punks have essentially borrowed their ethos from this famed exchange in the 1953 film “The Wild One”: “Hey Johnny, what are you rebelling against?” “Whaddya got?” Over the course of seven albums and more than 15 years, singer Tim McIlrath and Co. have tackled everything from homophobia to the growing economic disparity that has only recently been adopted as a talking point among presidential contenders. The band’s latest, The Black Market, doesn’t fuss with the formula, pairing pogoing pop-punk riffs with lyrics that could easily be scrawled on postcards and distributed outside political conventions.

Photo courtesy of Marilyn Manson

Crew Stadium

Friday-Sunday, May 15-17

1 Black and Gold Blvd., North Side