Soundwave 2015: Mayhem

Soundwave gets extreme!

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Although typically spanning the vast musical worlds of metal and hard rock alongside metalcore, punk, emo and more on its extensive roster, Soundwave typically has a touch of the extreme about it somewhere.

You just have to delve a little deeper. It was the same in 2015; this year’s grim and frostbitten representatives are Mayhem [5], performing in a smaller indoor stage. Reviews of recent Australian runs have been harsh to say the least, and less-than-inspired newer material hasn’t heightened the Norwegian black metal outfit’s legacy either. Simply bathed in red and later blue light, this is their chance to redeem themselves for past indiscretions.

There doesn’t appear to be any selfie sticks in sight and few people filming the black metal warfare on their phones throughout. For the already initiated, this is serious business. Two decades removed from the well-documented controversy though, they’re decidedly less dangerous nowadays. In a way, they’re somewhat of a curiosity piece for a small number of festival-goers. Casual onlookers stop by for a gander, one openly remarks that he’s surprised they don’t possess a more intimidating presence given their reputation.

Battling awful sound early, the mix is rectified somewhat later on, but still affords few favours – they tone down some of the onstage antics and theatrics (although a skull and noose are flaunted), but the smattering of corpse-painted punters and genre diehards are enthralled. Some of blood-spattered vocalist Attila Csihar’s overwrought mannerisms are unintentionally amusing, while mainstay bassist Necrobutcher does his best to hold down the fort. Genre staples Freezing Moon and Pure Fucking Armageddon are certainly crowd-pleasing measures, which somewhat compensates for an otherwise pedestrian display.

Mayhem bring a taste of the extreme to this long-running festival. Sadly, it just wasn’t the most appetising one.