Quite an illustrious Decibel Fest lineup, but one band simply stood out. Dim onstage setting aside, the mere presence of Mayhem itself was unsettling. But once everyone managed to gather themselves, there was a brief and inevitable mass instagraming session.
Setlist was a mix of old, new and their classics from De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas. Couple of songs from ‘The Grand Declaration of War’ too, and here it was obvious the crowd was not in a perfect harmony with the sound, response to these experimental progressions can be sometimes confounding. Mayhem definitely transcends black metal, and sometimes even metal itself.
Just about half way into the set the real unhinged pandemonium begins; “Deathcrush” sets the stage — for ‘Carnage’, ‘Freezing Moon’ and ‘Life Eternal’ like sonic obliteration. But this time there was perfect harmony in the pit – with these classics the crowd knew exactly what hit them. Such an alloy of elegant atmosphere, technical musicianship and crass aggression is uniquely Mayhem. Again, what’s exquisite tends to be subtle too; there is simply enough substance in these compositions, and they function without any exaggeration whatsoever. To paraphrase an earlier post – ‘very little about Mayhem is instantly discernible’, and even here, ‘the most complex of patterns is comfortably buried beneath a wall of rich chaotic sound.’