Mayhem + Watain + Revenge @ Club Soda

A Steady Whipping Motion

I was excited to finally get to see Mayhem perform live. I missed the last time they came to North America, and I was sure not to miss this one. I'm mostly a fan of their 1994 debut LP De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas as well as 1987's Deathcrush EP, and have intermittently paid attention to the albums released after those ones. Mayhem received something of a poor reputation in the black metal scene since the band reformed after founding guitarist and songwriter Euronymous' untimely demise at the hands of Varg Vikernes, as it was believed by many that this reformed group lacked the authenticity of the original and that they were simply cashing in on the group's new-found infamy. That didn't stop me from checking out releases such as Wolf's Lair Abyss and Grand Declaration of War, even though the latter album further irked black metallers with its forays into industrial sounds. It was going to be a good night.

Revenge opened the evening, and their blasting, grindcore-infused sound that defines Canadian-style black metal roused the crowd. Drummer James Read furiously pounded the drums like a madman, and blackened riffs replete with excessive pick scrapes filled the room. I am particularly fond of this band, and their set ought not be missed on this tour. Recommended.

I have to admit that Watain were always a band that I kind of slept on, but their live set was pretty good. They used some incredibly long intro and outro samples between their songs (as well as an incredibly long one that ended their set so that vocalist Erik Danielsson could come back and take a bow), which started off as charming but ended up being a little irritating. Their stage was replete with flags, strange axes, as well as skeletons. Between the songs, Mr. Danielsson reminded us all about how serious black metal was and that we as black metallers were at war with the poseurs. Very interesting. Their actual songs were actually pretty good, and it inspired me to actually go and listen to them at length. It also tickled that me that Erik gave a couple of good Tom Warrior-inspired "oouugh!!"s during a number of the songs. Good stuff.

Mayhem's set was fabulous. They opened with a sample of the intro track "Silvester Anfang" from Deathcrush, followed by that EP's title track. I knew already that this was going to be a good set. I was doubly pleased to finally see the one and only Attila Csihar in the flesh, as his signature ghastly croon is unique in the domain of heavy metal. Interestingly though, he chose to sing the songs that former vocalist Maniac sang on in the style of the original instead of his own. Their set was a broad sampling of songs recorded throughout their career ("To Daimonion" was nice to hear, especially since it was the one Maniac song where Attila did his signature groans), and they did not ignore the classics. Their renditions of "Chainsaw Gutsfuck" and "Pagan Fears" were great, though what was particularly great was when they performed "Freezing Moon". Attila sounded just as he did on the original recording, the instrumental performance was energetic, and the crowd was fully into the song. It was a wonderful atmosphere to behold. It was the highlight of the night, as well as the last number of months worth of shows. Well worth the price of entry.


--Sean Z. hosts the Sublime State Of Doom, only the heaviest and most brutal metal every Monday from 8 to 9 PM on CJLO. Photo by Antti Lumo.