I’ve said it before and I will say it again, being neighbors with Philadelphia is rad. Show in NYC sold out or on a date you can’t make it? Go to Philly. Of course, this kind of requires a car, and being a girl from a small town where my car equals freedom and escape, I refuse to part with mine. So roughly a week ago, after a quick trip down 95 I found myself waiting for Black Anvil to take the stage at The Theatre of Living Arts, the smell of incense beginning to waft through the air.
I must say, I really enjoyed the variety of black metal that was on this bill. I think balancing an all black metal show can be tricky but this was definitely a neapolitan-esque offering. Black Anvil kicked things off, and I for one felt completely blown away by their performance. Their live performance has so much more depth to it than comes through on their new record. While the music itself is not one of my top choices, I still got so much more of a feel for their style that night than I had by listening to the album. If anyone is on the fence about their new work, I highly recommend seeing them live. That can be said for a lot of bands, but for me it was really a night-and-day difference.
Inquisition was next to play, and even aside from my fondness for corpse paint and theatrics as I’ve previously mentioned, I really appreciated how just two band members were able to make use of so much stage space and keep the audience interested. Guitarist Dragon paced back and forth across the stage like a feral animal caught in a cage created by their large on-stage banners. He has a reverberating voice with an otherworldly sound, and I’m not sure if it’s a natural quality or processed somehow but it kept my attention. Combine that with Incubus’s ferocious drumming and you have a Molotov cocktail of sound in your face.
Closing the night out was Mayhem performing De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas, and the crowd pulsed with anticipation as the altar was set up by stagehands, prepared to be haunted by none other than Attila. The band took to a darkened and fog-laden stage and began playing so suddenly it took me a few seconds of standing in awe of these cloaked creatures to snap out it and get my camera up and firing.
Those of you reading this may not know me all that personally, so perhaps when I tell you I got goosebumps when Attila came on stage you’ll think I’m blowing smoke up your dress. I admit to being an excitable person, but aside from that I really respect and respond to musicians that have such an unwavering presence onstage. Later, discussing the show, a dear friend of mine said “his performance style seems like a masterclass in black metal; but everyone is better off seeing him perform rather than trying to imitate.” He summed everything up that I had been thinking but could not form into a sentence, and to me this stands true no matter which band you see him perform with.
Of course, as always, my main goal is to attempt to capture the most evocative moments visually. From his enthralling dance with the candles in front of him, either curling his hands gently around the flames as if they are old friends or lovers or gnashing his teeth and lapping at them, to the moments he reaches from the darkness, clawing at the air and extending a hand to the heavens, perhaps knowing it’s somewhere he doesn’t belong. Some moments I cannot capture – like the maniacal laughter you hear as Attila bounds across the stage and into the shadows, only to reappear looming over the shoulder of bassist Necrobutcher. – but if you have seen Mayhem, perhaps you have witnessed them.
Check out all of the images below! Click on the image to open the gallery.