Mayhem - De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas Alive Tour
If you consider yourself a metalhead but you haven't heard of Mayhem, stop whatever you're doing right now and educate yourself because you've probably been living under a rock since at least the early 90's. As one of the founders of the Norwegian black metal scene, which is notorious for its extreme nature and myriad of controversies, Mayhem is nothing short of a legendary band. Their debut, full-length album De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas, which came out in 1994, was a landmark album for the band as well as for the entire black metal genre and, as one might expect, it has quite the story behind it. Essentially, the vocalist who wrote the lyrics for the album, Per Yngve "Dead" Ohlin, committed suicide in 1991 and the founder and guitarist Øystein "Euronymous" Aarseth was murdered by Varg "Count Grishnackh" Vikernes, the bassist on the album, in 1993. Definitely go find and read the whole biography of the band if you're interested and you'll understand the reason this tour is such a big deal.
After over 20 years, Mayhem decided to resurrect the legendary De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas and play the album in full on tour, accompanied by a release of a live version of the album performed by the current lineup. Supported by black metal acts Black Anvil and Inquisition, Mayhem has been bringing the past back to life across North America, and we were lucky enough to attend.
Although I had never heard of Black Anvil, I thoroughly enjoyed their opening set. They incorporated a very dark, doomy vibe and style that was unexpected, but that worked so well. Definitely worth your time if you're into dark metal. Inquisition was next, and although I missed about half of their set, I enjoyed what I did manage to catch. I had no idea that they were a two person act, but they sounded like a black metal ensemble nonetheless. The crowd loved them and many of those in attendance were just as surprised as I was when they looked up and saw only two men creating such a large black metal sound.
It was then time for the main event. After a pre-recorded message asking the crowd not to use their phones' lights to "ruin the atmosphere," Mayhem proceeded to put on one of the most unique shows I've ever seen. There was an alter in front of Hellhammer's drumset and before the band came out, a heavy smoke was unleashed upon the venue. It became so heavy by the end of the show that it became hard to see five feet in front of you, especially in the low lighting. The band came out in cloaks and most of them never revealed their faces. The smoke obstructed Hellhammer for the vast majority of the set, and a lot of the time you couldn't tell what was happening onstage at all, whether it was because of the smoke or because of the plethora of strobes and lights being flashed at the crowd and into the smoke. It didn't really matter if you could see them or not though, because it was being able to hear this legendary album live that was really the reason that we were all there. Attila's voice tore through the place during the set, switching between his unique screaming style and the strange, dark chants that accompany some of the songs, while also interacting with the stage props and even singing alongside the skull that rested on their alter. I honestly can't tell much more about the stage presence because, well, I couldn't see it for the most part, but it was still incredible just to be there. The crowd loved going nuts to every last song. Personally, I lost my mind a bit when they played "Freezing Moon" just because I love that song and never thought I'd ever hear it live. After an eerie outro recording and taking a bow (I think), the lights went up and the band had vanished like ghosts, as if they had never been there. I've never heard actual applause at a metal show before, but I was in total agreement with it.