Sunday, February 19, 2017

Mayhem at the Gramercy Theatre

Attila Csihar
Black metal band Mayhem formed in 1984 in Oslo, Norway, adopting the band's name from the Venom song "Mayhem with Mercy." Mayhem is about as extreme as a band can get; the band suffered the 1991 suicide of vocalist Per Yngve Ohlin ("Dead") and the 1993 murder of guitarist Øystein Aarseth ("Euronymous") by his band mate, bassist Varg Vikernes ("Count Grishnackh"), and band members have been accused of making white supremacist statements, using neo-Nazi imagery, and planning to bomb a cathedral. Mayhem has been credited as launching the black metal movement, but no musicians that have remained in the band consistently since its origin; 19 musicians have passed through the ranks. The band presently consists of vocalist Attila Csihar, guitarists Morten Iversen ("Teloch") and Charles Hedger ("Ghul"), bassist Jørn Stubberud ("Necrobutcher"), and drummer Jan Axel Blomberg ("Hellhammer"). Mayhem self-released its sixth live album, De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas Alive, on December 15, 2016.

Following a similar European tour that yielded the band's most recent album, Mayhem performed its entire 1994 album De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas on a month-long North American tour that ended tonight at the Gramercy Theatre. Curiously, Mayhem had already split when the original album was released; a newer lineup interpreted the album. Nevertheless, the event was a rallying point for black metal fans, and Mayhem gave them an eerie and otherworldly ambience to fit the spine-tingling music. On the center of the stage, a small table was set with two tall candles at the ends and a skull in the center. Throughout the concert, the stage lights remained very dim and no one in the corpse-painted band spoke to the audience. Between songs, Csihar sometimes hovered around or knelt before the table. The songs were a monotony of cacophony, a droning wall of sound so thick that one had to really listen to pick out the lead parts. Atmospheric pieces separated some of the songs, but otherwise the band was propelled by Hellhammer’s blast beats and Csihar’s sinister screeches, ghastly growls and spooky spoken word. Mayhem performed the album's eight songs and walked off the stage. Hell probably is not this entertaining.

Visit Mayhem at www.thetruemayhem.com.

Setlist:
  1. Funeral Fog
  2. Freezing Moon
  3. Cursed in Eternity
  4. Pagan Fears
  5. Life Eternal
  6. From the Dark Past
  7. Buried by Time and Dust
  8. De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas