I like a wide variety of music genres, from shoegaze to indie to doom metal to psych rock to classical to hip hop, basically, I like music that sounds and makes me feel good. If you were to narrow this down to a series of genres, black metal wouldn’t probably make the cut. Don’t get me wrong, I get into it, but I’m not a huge fan.
Just recently I watched this documentary, highlighting the ill-fated era and influence that Norway’s black metal pioneers, Mayhem, imparted unto the world. There tale is nothing short of haunting.
Not long after, I saw flyers for Mayhem, playing their debut album, the one shrouded in vile, wicked drama, from start to finish. It got me toey for sure. I think what got me over the edge was that they were to perform at The Triffid. Anytime I have seen a band at such a venue, the sound is on point, which for a metal gig, always makes shit so much more intense. So, I was in.
As the date came closer, I was excited, but not super hyped. That was until I read a review of their show in Melbourne a few days prior.
“…the light show stunned and dazzled in time with the bands music, just as the stage’s smoke machine would so often billow out, most times threatening to swallow the entire stage in smoke. Couple these factors with the obscure and occultist imagery of their eerie stage banners as well as band’s intimidating presence and stellar performance, and you have one very surreal live experience. In fact, as pretentious of me as it will sound, it was more of a ritual than just a gig; more of a theatrical display than just some band playing live.”
I also saw some photos of the band, dressed in hooded cloaks, sporting grim, satanic influenced face paint, it definitely got me super excited for the show.
Cody and I showed up, walking the path to the venue, dodging a scattering of black heavy, long haired punters and making our way in to catch supports Bolzer doing sound check. They played a 40 minute set which definitely impressed me, particularly the depth of their sound for two dudes. Growing in anticipation, we took a breather and then re-entered, manoeuvring our way through the masses, just as we settled, a pre-recorded message plays discouraging people from the use of their phones to avoid impacting the ambience of the show. I like that, because fuck fools on their phones at gigs. You look stupid.
With that done, an ominous drone played, and just like that, shit got intense. The back of the stage, peering over the crowd, was a large banner with three eerie looking faces, black and white. Every so often, the backing drone would be improved by an organ piece to which the banner would light up and then fall back into darkness, the band was yet to appear. By this point, I was starting to feel as though this was going to be a special gig, as well as a slight sense of intimidation. It was as though something deep inside me was saying don’t go any closer to the stage. That to me, was a damn good sign of things to come.
Then, through the wisps of smoke, 5 figures appeared, as expected, wearing hooded cloaks akin to that of the grim reaper and enhanced with the black metal esque face paint. The backing drone was then swiftly sliced by the sounds of these maniacs carving into the first song of their legendary album, Funeral Fog. I can’t even explain the feeling that overwhelmed me at this point, seeing these guys up close, with such an electric energy and in such top fucking form, was too much. I remember looking over at Cody and giving him the ‘what the fuck is going on right now’ look.
The band was in character the whole set, not one word was uttered. The sheer demonic nature of the theatrics was for me, so very welcomed and not something that I have been able to witness prior. From one song to the next, shit was heavy, really heavy and as I had hoped for, incredibly clear in terms of sound, punishingly so at times. Between songs, Attila (who has been around since ’89) would play out different scenes, for instance having another band member sit at the base of a sinister candle setup, as he elegantly and demonically danced his hands around all the while holding a skull and then just as quickly as it was arranged, the band would kick off another song and change the mood from mesmerising silence to hand in the air, head banging brutality.
I honestly was not prepared for how good their show was. Simply incredible and something that I will never forget.
This video will give you some idea as to what the show was like, but man, there is no way you can capture the sound and ambience to actually being there in the (chilling) flesh.
I mean, just look at this. This kinda represents the energy and atmosphere of the show, what also got me was their strange movements, other-worldy almost, possessed. It was absolutely spellbinding.