It’s far too early to call favourite gig of the year, let alone favourite gig ever, but Mayhem blew my mind so much that I think parts of it are still on the floor right at the barrier where I stood mesmerised for the entire set while my soul flew right out of my wide-open gobsmacked mouth. Personally, I’m no stranger to Black Metal, sometimes dabbling in the often misunderstood and moral panic inducing musical niche, but this is a live act everyone should see at least once in their lives. Call it a cultural experience.
Selling out Lion Arts, approximately 500 of my best black metal friends and I gathered for Sunday Mass. Supporting the Norwegian heavyweights were Warewolves (VIC) and Ulcerate (NZ), two of the biggest and brightest in a growing array of bands in the Southern Hemisphere ordained in the extreme subgenre.
Werewolves having recently played Adelaide for Froth and Fury wasted no time in setting the frightfully chaotic energy for the night with their blustering and rapid sound of speed drums ominous guitar tones and death growls. Arriving part way through their set it was as if the gates of hell had opened and the floor was already packed with enamoured devotees. Vocalist and Bass player Sam Bean boasted impeccable lung capacity effortlessly growling through gnarly tracks such as crowd favourite I don’t like you.
Ulcerate completely changed the mood with their unique and infamously unpredictable style of technical death metal. If you enjoy experimental and mind bendingly eerie music that keeps you on the edge, this is the band for you. No easy listening with sudden tempo changes and uncomfortable harmonic tension with no resolution in sight, Ulcerate purposefully lead the congregation into the woods completely dissociated and ready for the onslaught of the main act.
Mayhem were hailed by a frenzied audience as they calmly walked on stage backed by the slow gloomy intro to Falsified and Hated as vocalist Attila Csihar began his ungodly sermon. Draped in clergy robes and Seer looking corpse paint, his delivery of particularly demonic vocals was flawless and hypnotic showing off his broad range of styles from gut wrenching growls to operatic singing to nefarious chanting. In between the theatrical incarnation of diabolic delinquency, Mayhem played a fast energetic set evoking a ferocious circle pit and crowd surfing which was both unnerving and entertaining.
They moved from newer material to their older rawer tracks such as Freezing Moon, Pagan Fears and Deathcrush changing costumes and set to suit the era they were performing. There were crosses, skulls and nooses tossed around for good measure and if this kind of music doesn’t float your boat I can guarantee the performance would. Finishing in their regular more human attire of leather and spikes, Mayhem performed Carnage before finally acknowledging the crowd cheerfully throwing out set lists and t-shirts and signing memorabilia for adoring fans. While I was left standing there questioning my very existence, I imagined the band going back to their hotels for a nice cup of tea and an episode of Antiques Roadshow after a long night of converting everyone to subversive nihilism. It was an absolutely rapturous show, and my only regret is not bringing my mum.
Live Review By Bec Scheucher