Live at the Fonda Theatre

Hollywood, CA

November 18th, 2017

Review and photos by Travis Baumann

Mayhem are one of the most notorious Norwegian Black Metal bands around. They were founded in 1984 and have had many earth shattering moments in their history and line up. What stands today is their legacy of pioneering a movement and continuing to persevere. They stand out as godfathers of this genre - sound and scene.

The current tour is in commemoration of the original release of the seminal album, "De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas" and involves the album being played in its totality with no other songs, encores, or even banter from the band. Mayhem are not light-hearted or for the light of heart.

They are dead serious, and bring a heavy atmosphere that is mesmerizing and sinister. The band does not speak, nor do they interact with the audience. Billowing clouds of smoke obscure their hooded forms as they play their instruments. Illuminated banners are changed throughout the performance to lend to this mood and story.

The band in its current incarnation consists of founding bassist, Jørn Stubberud (better known as "Necrobutcher"), vocalist Attila Csihar, infamous drummer Hellhammer, with Teloch and Ghul on guitars.

While all the band members are dressed in long black robes with hoods, Attila is adorned in a much more elaborate costume that falls somewhere between an evil pope and one of the Nazgûl (Ring Wraiths from Lord of the Rings). He wore corpse paint with occultic symbols all over his flesh.

His vocals fall somewhere between growled verse, Tibetan throat singing, and Gregorian chant depending on the song, which is quite a bit different than most of the other black metal bands out there. Attila would wave his hands around in the air as if performing incantations and spells while he sang.

The entire set was dripping with atmosphere and a gut feeling of authenticity. People around me kept commenting on how "serious" these guys were and how intense the show was.

For the final song of the night, the title track itself, a new banner came up and actual skeletons in hooded robes were set up by each of the band members. The lights would strobe-flash between the actual band member and then the skeleton that represented them which had a profound effect in the smoky room.  On this song, Attila had switched to a white pope-like robe and held a skull aloft while he sang in what sounded like dark-hymnal verse for the culmination of the ceremony.

When the final song came to a close, the curtain fell and the house lights came on . The audience sat there in silence for a moment before rousing to exit. It was really incredible, and definitely a show that has to be seen to be fully appreciated.

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