Storm Of The Antichrist: Mayhem live in Lawrence, KS 01/18/15

Photo courtesy of Andrew Rodriguez

Photo courtesy of Andrew Rodriguez

Black metal, by its very definition, is meant to be a violent form of music. From its now-legendary, murder/suicide-filled beginnings to its imagery and controversy surrounding just about every aspect of it, black metal at its very core holds violent tendencies that infect every other part of the music. Last night at the Granada in Lawrence, KS, three bands took the stage to share that violence with a rabid crowd craving it.

 

Photo courtesy of Andrew Rodriguez

Photo courtesy of Andrew Rodriguez

Norway’s Mayhem has earned the right to be called a legendary band in heavy metal history and probably the most notorious black metal band of all time. From the opening notes of set opener “Deathcrush” to the final ringing screams of vocalist Attila Csihar in the final song of the night “Pure Fucking Armageddon”, it was clear they’ve earned those titles through menacing live performances of supremely twisted and unnerving black metal tunes. Mayhem hit every major release of their career, spanning over 30 years – the punk-influenced “Carnage” and “Chainsaw Gutsfuck” from the early 80s, the very experimental “To Daimonion” from 2000′s A Grand Declaration of War and “Illuminate Eliminate” from 2007′s Ordo Ad Chao – but nothing got quite the reaction that the classic black metal tracks from 1994′s De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas received. When the song classic song “Freezing Moon” came up, there were even some in the crowd singing along – not exactly something you see every day for a black metal show.

Photo courtesy of Andrew Rodriguez

Photo courtesy of Andrew Rodriguez

Vocalist Attila Csihar, in a get-up that looked a little like an undead zombie army lieutenant priest, has one of the most unnerving and expansive vocal abilities in all of heavy metal. His demonic mid-range register for most songs sounded positively evil, but in some of the most experimental performances, he could hit high, glass-shattering screeches as well as demonic, inhuman low guttural vocals, all the while moving around the stage like a man truly possessed. With the music coming out perfectly mixed, the bass was heavy and prevalent and the guitars provided a wall of riffs, every musical aspect of Mayhem came together in unholy matrimony to make for an especially evil and unforgettable performance.

Photo courtesy of Matt Atkinson

Photo courtesy of Matt Atkinson

Providing direct support was Sweden’s Watain which was every bit as menacing as the headliner and had a commanding stage presence and performance that may have stolen the show for a few in the crowd. Flanked on both sides by (actual) skinned cow’s heads on stakes and giant, iron crucifixes with skeletons hanging from them, Watain put on a show that was non-stop aggression. Again, hitting most of the discography from their 17-year existence, Watain’s material has the chaos and blastbeats of early black metal (“Puzzles ov Flesh” and “On Horns Impaled” but also the melody and catchy groove of more current-era black and viking metal (“Sworn To The Dark” and “Total Funeral”) that made each song of theirs it’s own unique blend of different black metal styles. At one point, frontman Erik Danielsson splashed a skull full of blood (real or fake – we may never know) out onto the crowd; it only created that much more of a frenzied response.

Revenge 1

Opening the show was Canada’s Revenge who is, in this writer’s humble opinion, the most uncompromising, unrelenting, wimp-smashing, poser-destroying band on the face of the Earth. Focusing more on delivering hundreds of riffs and dissonant notes per song than anything resembling a catchy melody, Revenge plays a style of metal that combines the raw, core elements of black and death metal – colloquially known in the extreme metal underground as “war metal”. And war it was. Possibly the most intense 40-minute opening set anyone will ever see.
Mayhem:

1. Deathcrush
2. Pagan Fears
3. To Daimonion
4. Symbols of Bloodswords
5. My Death
6. A Time To Die
7. Psywar
8. Illuminate Eliminate
9. Whore
10. Buried By Time And Dust
11. Chainsaw Gutsfuck
12. Freezing Moon
13. Carnage
14. Pure Fucking Armageddon

Watain:

1. Death’s Cold Dark
2. Black Flames March
3. Total Funeral
4. Storm Of The Antichrist
5. Puzzles ov Flesh
6. Underneath the Cenotaph
7. The Wild Hunt
8. Outlaw
9. I Am The Earth
10. On Horns Impaled
11. Sworn To The Dark
12. Malfeitor

Revenge:

1. Us And Them (Higher Power)
2. Traitor Crucifixion
3. Cleansing Siege (Take Them Down)
4. Death Heritage (Built Upon Sorrow)
5. Pride Ruination (Division Collapse)
6. Desolation Insignia
7. Altar of Triumph
8. Parasite Gallows (In Line)

About Jackson May

Read more from Jackson at Mandatory Metallica and follow him on Twitter at @Mankvill.

View all articles by Jackson May

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