GIG REVIEW: MAYHEM Live at Electric Ballroom, London UK
Mayhem had come to London to perform their 1994 album ‘De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas’ in full at the Electric Ballroom, which I thought was a strange choice of venue as it’s rather small with only a capacity of 1100. But that didn’t keep black metal fans away that night as the album holds a special place in their hearts. We know we can never have the classic line up that performed on the studio release, but it was still Mayhem performing in London, and there was a high level of expectation in the air.
The opening band of the night was Inconcessus Lux Lucis from the United Kingdom who played to a small but growing crowd. I and probably most of the crowd had most likely not heard of them before, so tt was interesting to see how they would get on. They played a mixture of black metal mixed with rock mainly during the guitar solos. A little bit of a strange choice, but that didn’t take away from their performance, which went down well enough to satisfy the crowd.
The change-over saw less tuning of guitars and testing of mics, but more killing of lights and installing of a massive candelabra with a goat skull at its centre. Only when all seven votives are lit did it become truly dark and create quite an eerie atmosphere. Once the band was on stage, front man T started to tear into his vocal cords, back turned to the audience. T seemed to be reaching deep within his soul to conjure up some intensely personal demons that drove his performance. It just happened to relate to the audience. He wasn’t performing so much as exorcising his inner demons. He truly didn’t care that we’re there.
Dragged into Sunlight having their backs to the audience the whole set was something I had never seen done before. If you add to that J the drummer having some of the most intense drum work I’ve ever come across, the sound of his double kicks alone left your ears ringing. The lighting being just the on-stage candles and two strobe lights that every now and again revealed the band for a second, just added to the atmosphere the band had already created. Come the end of the set, everyone was saying what a strong and intense performance it was. Everyone was very happy with it, and you could just feel the excitement in the room for what was about to come next. Looking around me, there was such a variety of age ranges that it shows just how much the performance meant to so many.
Mayhem’s entrance to the stage was spine-chilling, with ritualistic chants coming over the PA system before the members of the band, all dressed in hooded outfits, appeared. The fast-paced introduction to “Funeral Fog” began, and everyone was absorbing the song and atmosphere the whole time, as we all knew what was being seen and heard was something special. Then, when we heard the voice of Dead from the ‘Live in Leipzig’ album saying “when it’s cold and when it’s dark”, we knew that could only mean “Freezing Moon”. Everyone in the venue upped there energy levels even more than they already had, and any floor space that was remaining quickly disappeared under a huge surge of feet.
Nercobucher removed his hood mid-song to a loud cheer. The band did pad out their set in between some songs, most notably “Pagan Fears” and “Life Eternal”, but with the light of the two candles and the added impact of the onstage fog, it just maintained the atmosphere the band has built their live shows on over the years.
Come the end of the set as vocalist Attila blew out the on stage candles to end the show, everyone was in awe of the band and what they had just been witness to. Mayhem could be one of those bands that’s hit-and-miss a lot of the time, but tonight, they definitely hit one out of the building.
Mayhem has been through so many highs and lows as a band over their career, that I was wondering how many people still cared about this band. Well, tonight showed just how many people did care, as the 1100-capacity Electric Ballroom was just a total sell-out. Tonight highlighted the fact that the one main aspect of the band that remains the most positive and defining, is their music. Even after some 23 years, ‘De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas’ was and still is an album that metal fans of all ages crave to see live.