Mayhem live review – Bristol, The Fleece

BM legends retrieve their classic album from the ruins

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It wasn’t supposed to be like this. When Temples festival announced its Friday night headliner back in early March the news that it would be Mayhem, performing their seminal 1994 album De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas in full, a sharp inhale could be heard to emanate from the entire kvlt metal community.

Any fan worth their battle jacket was giddy with excitement at the prospect of seeing this extreme metal masterpiece brought to life. And then just days before their scheduled appearance Temples was abruptly cancelled and the chance seemed lost… until now. It goes without saying that the community owes a huge debt to the promoters and the venue for pulling tonight’s show together at such short notice – and in a 450-capacity venue no less.

But before the main event there’s the small matter of fellow Temples would’ve-beens, Wolverhampton’s black metal beasts FUNERAL THRONE [7] and fellow Brits, caustic funeral doom stalwarts ESOTERIC [7]. The former’s rather by-the-numbers black metal, whilst blisteringly intense, does little to pull the pint-supping punters outside into the venue, whilst the latter excel in summoning a sulphurous maelstrom of bewildering noise where the supreme technicality never once proves a barrier to the immersive experience the aptly named sextet consistently achieve.

Tonight’s main event, however, is what we’re here for – no pigs head’s, no blood, no self-harm – this is MAYHEM [9] 2016 paying glorious homage to their former selves. Cloaked in fog and deep purple lights, with Hellhammer completely obscured on the small stage behind his drums and guitarists Teloch and Ghul robed in executioner-style hoods, beyond the searing, note-perfect yet flak-cannon like delivery of the likes of epic album opener Funeral Fog and a tundra-tremoring Freezing Moon, visually it’s all about vocalist Attila Csihar. Dressed like an SS colonel’s corpse, the frontman spends most of the set getting deathly amorous with a human skull, until his croaking, demonic baritone augments the final blasts of the title track, and, with that, they depart – no pomp, no ceremony… no mercy.

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