MAYHEM – Bergen – USF Verftet
I was really looking forward to tonight’s show at one of my favorite venues in Bergen, namely USF Verftet, and, as it turned out, I was not left disappointed by any stretch of the imagination. The very legends that are Mayhem were in town as part of their 30th anniversary tour, and what a treat it was to behold them on stage. Pure magic, ladies and gentlemen. However, tonight’s bill also included two other Norwegian black metal bands, namely Thyruz and Blodhemn. I was familiar with Thyruz beforehand due to their excellent "Svik" album, but I had never encountered the music of Blodhemn before.
Like I said earlier on, Thyruz impressed with their latest release, "Svik", so I was curious as to how watching them on stage would be. At 9 PM sharp they entered the stage and lit a couple of torches followed by a somewhat sinister and ominous ambient introduction that set the mood for what was to follow. The bass player and guitarist wore masks while the vocalist wore a military uniform of some sort, so there was clearly a theatrical edge to the whole thing. It was not visually breathtaking or anything like that, and some probably deemed it a bit cheesy and tacky, but I think it worked in that particular setting. The band as a whole were pretty tight, and the sound was both punchy and clear from where I was standing. Some of their material is both groovy and sinister at the same time while some of their other tunes are more hypnotic and monotonous, so there was some variety and diversity to their show and a nice mix of fast-paced tracks and more slow, brooding pieces. The vocals were quite convincing and there was some great guitar work and melodies to be heard. I found songs such as "Svik" and "Darkness Illuminates All" pretty damn intense and epic to listen to. I was certainly entertained by Thyruz throughout their 40-minute long set.
Next up were Blodhemn, who took the stage at approximately 10 PM. They did not wear any corpse paint or rely on any visual effects or anything like that at all. It was just straight up black metal leaning towards the thrasier side of the genre, but there were some pretty strange parts and interesting nuances to be found here and there. The band seemed pretty tight, and it was intense and aggressive at times, but, like I mentioned above, there was nothing going on visually at all. The crowd seemed to be into it and applauded the band, but I guess my lack of familiarity with the music of Blodhemn left me feeling slightly bored from time to time. Also, this really annoying cunt started dancing and freaking out right in front of me during Blodhemn’s show, and that was pretty fucking irritating as I had to move around all the time while she was tripping. What a drag! Anyway, Blodhemn certainly appeared like a bunch of competent musicians who were able to get the crowd properly warmed up, but the next time around I will have to get acquainted with their music beforehand. As with Thyruz, their set lasted 40 minutes.
Arghhhh, The True Mayhem…what can I say? They were my first proper introduction to black metal in many ways, and they were also the first black metal band that I ever witnessed on stage (all the way back in 2001). The last time I watched them perform live was in 2007 at the Hole in the Sky Festival, which was a good show, but not utterly mindblowing. Tonight would be a different matter. The stage itself and the back drop and the different props (pigs heads and inverted crosses) looked great and totally set the mood for what was to come. When the well-known introduction "Silvester Anfang" filled the venue at 11:25 PM and the members of the band walked on the stage, I just knew that this was going to rule. Opening their set with "Deathcrush" was a great move on the band’s part as the crowd was totally sucked into the performance from the get-go. Attila sounded absolutely awesome, but I could say the very same thing for every member of the band. "Pagan Fears" was a treat and "To Daimonion" was a nice surprise. The sound was great and I could hear all instruments clearly. Next up was one of my favorites by Mayhem, namely "Symbols of Bloodswords", which was then followed by "My Death" and "A Time to Die". Everything just sounded so damn tight. "Psywar" was one of the highlights of the evening and it sounded great in a live-setting. "Illuminate Eliminate" is one of the best black metal tunes ever written, which was once again proven tonight. The intense and insanely aggressive "Whore" came out well, but "Buried by Time and Dust" ruled beyond belief. Following a rather short and horror-like interlude we were handed a handful of classic Mayhem tunes, most notably the hauntingly brilliant "De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas", which, to me, is the very embodiment of all that is black metal. "Chainsaw Gutsfuck", "Freezing Moon", Carnage", and, not surprisingly, "Pure Fucking Armageddon" closed the show.
I have never witnessed such a tight and atmospheric performance by Mayhem before, and this was my fourth time seeing them. It is inspiring to watch a band that has existed for 30 years deliver a show like that. What a great and nicely morbid evening! Mayhem lives!