There was more to celebrate than just rock, metal and community at the first day of Sonic Temple at Mapfre Stadium in Columbus, Ohio. Weather forecasts looked grim as a heavy round of thunderstorms threatened the area and, fortunately, the weather held off. This can only mean Zeus and Thor are headbangers who were looking forward to watching performances from Ghost, Halestorm, Black Label Society, Shvpes, Meshuggah, Beartooth, headliners System of a Down and a lot more.

Fans turned up in droves, lining up at the gate in the early morning, anticipating sets from The Jacks and Radattack, who simultaneously kicked off three days of heaviness (and some comedy and spoken word). It was a diverse mix from the theatricality of Sweden's Avatar to the unique hip-hop/hardcore punk stylings of Ho99o9 and everything in between.

One highlight of the day was watching Beartooth play the Monster Energy stadium stage to a hometown crowd who have watched leader Caleb Shomo's increasing ascent to stardom since joining Attack Attack! as a keyboardist in high school.

For those who can't resist a feel-good moment, the stadium was all smiles and "Awwws" as Lzzy Hale gifted a stage-played guitar to one lucky fan whose life has been changed forever.

As the sun faded, it set the stage for Friday night mass as Ghost hit the stage behind their charismatic frontman Cardinal Copia. The band's rise to near festival headliner since issuing their word-of-mouth debut 10 years ago has been inspiring for all of heavy metal and seeing them play a stadium was sheerly mesmerizing.

Shifting from mesmerizing to Mezmerize, System of a Down performed a headlining set that leaned heavily on favorites from Mezmerize and Toxicity. Even though there was a slight hiccup as the sound system needed to be rebooted early in the set, it did little to halt the forward momentum System had already built, exemplifying their status as one of the greatest bands from the turn of the century.

See photos from the first day of Sonic Temple below. For more info on the fest, head here.

Photos: Sonic Temple - Day One

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