Black Metal in Vienna 11. A tragedy in three acts. Darksynth act GosT, Gaahls Wyrd and the one and only Mayhem turn an otherwise innocent November night into a den of grief and pain
Black is the only colour. One could come to this conclusion if one would be visiting Simm City tonight. Truly an overused stereotype. Nonetheless, black is both colour and music at this peculiar night.
Opening act is famed French Darksynth-turned-Black-Metal (considering his latest release strongly incorporates even more of the typical screeches and tremolo picking) act GosT. With only two people on stage, James Lollar and a live guitarist, they manage to unleash electronic-soaked hell on the eagerly waiting audience. Which is dressed in black, of course.
Host of Masks and Spear
Next up is an already famed protagonist, held in high regards by Black Metalheads far and wide: Gaahl of Gorgoroth’s fame. The former frontman is back fronting his own show, Gaahls Wyrd. The name can seem deceivingly uncreative, because the music presented here truly isn’t. Maybe it is due to Gaahl’s recent exposure and experience with various genres other than Black Metal – just think about the truly amazing Dark Folk outfit Wardruna – that this new material of his is the most exciting he’s put out in years.
The present fans – and there are already a lot of them – reward this recent upsurge with fanatical investment and applause. And Gaahl does not ignore this; reaches out, makes contact, holds hands, while he continues preaching like a twisted pastor. With his typical back-and-forth walking style all over stage, inevitable like a pendulum swinging, wearing his tattered and torn trademark leather jacket, presenting his sometimes screech-heavy, sometimes drenched in theatrical dread vocals, Gaahl stands tall as a force to be reckoned with – and a force not to be missed live.
When it’s cold and when it’s dark
Finally, out comes Mayhem. What everyone has been waiting for. I’ve had a long-term-investment into the first few Mayhem outputs: Deathcrush (Posercorpse 1987), De mysteriis (Deathlike Silence 1994), Live in Leipzig (Obscure Plasma 1993). I’ve seen them live before, touring the De mysteriis anniversary tour. Regarding their latest output, Daemon (Century Media 2019), I’ve just recently stated (read it at Stark!Strom) that they’re still decent, at least on record, but hardly evolve their sound. Sadly, I’m no longer as excited about Mayhem as I’d like to be.
This show proved me wrong.
Sure, there are plenty of things one could criticize about a Mayhem live show: Their over-the-top, sometimes borderline hilarious, aggressive evilness, sporting crosses made out of bones, slipknots (to hang the micro with?) and a demon-like face paint – all those things being mostly courtesy of Attila. However, lest we forget, they had to change venue, due to popular demand. And Simm City, not particularly small, is not exactly empty tonight either. And there is a good reason for that. It’s Mayhem, the TRUE Mayhem after all. They know EXACTLY what, how and when to do it. Untypical for a
spooky evil Second Wave Black Metal band, there is no extremely thick fog or constant, marine blue light. One can see what’s happening on stage, the band wants the audience to know they have nothing to hide. There’s Necrobutcher, pulling grimaces like a maniac. There are Teloch and Ghul, standing tall and mighty like trees from a Norwegian forest in winter, dishing out freezing riff after riff like small snow avalanches falling from branches. Hellhammer, hidden away behind walls of drums and percussion, unleashing one machine-gun-like drum salve after the other. And then there’s Attila, the odd one out, the centre of attention. Providing ear-piercing, shrill screeches, waving his hands around like he’s trying to shoo away a particularly aggressive bee, proudly presenting devil horns (how very 90s), he’s capturing all and every gaze of the eager audience. For most parts of the show, he’s the only one in ,,authentic’’ dressing, sporting corpse paint (or a very crude mask) and (glued on) horns and a twisted, pope-like dress (Tobias Forge is not amused), frantically moving back and forth as if caught in the middle of a ritual. And that’s what it is: a live ritual of shock, awe and terror.
Split into three parts, the band first goes through new tracks, followed by a De mysteriis section (featuring an extremely accurate live rendition of ,,Freezing Moon’’, a clear highlight) and, as if that wasn’t enough, as a closer, four tracks straight out of the noise hell that is Deathcrush. This is no ordinary Second Wave Black Metal band like there were and still are tons out there; this is a group of extremely skilled, highly professional musicians with a tendency and taste for theatrical elements. There is not a single mistake or bad decision in their performance, making the show basically flawless and hard-hitting like a guitar to the head. And, after all, this project is the very centre of Black Metal history, for better or for worse, and they’re damn well aware of that.