Mayhem at The Theatre of Living Arts – A Dark Ritual

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.

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Black Anvil

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.  

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Inquisition

 

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.  

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Mayhem

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.

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Mayhem

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.

-Skc Photo-

Black Anvil

 

Inquisition

 

Mayhem

On the Turntable – Black Anvil ‘As Was’

12 Jacket (Gatefold - Two Pocket) [GD30OB2-N]

When listening to Black Anvil’s new album As Was, the great Pablo Picasso quote “Good artists copy, great artists steal” comes to mind. The most notable difference in this case is that I would not be so bold as to call Black Anvil great artists, more so I can’t get past how much their signature style sounds like a mash up of 15-second clips from various popular metal sub-genres. Because of this, I found myself desperately trying to find something I liked in each song, and the shining light in the whole album for me is the consistent delivery of Paul Delaney’s vocals.

His voice has a beautiful grittiness, with a perfect amount of rasp that really honors the black metal heroes of the past. I can see how many will view As Was as an exciting new record that beautifully pays homage to the greats! I would highly recommend this album to someone who’s just getting into metal, as it offers such a variety of styles in each song. Everyone needs a band like this to help them hone in on what exactly they like about metal and to provide them with a starting point to deep dive into their preferred sub-genre(s).

In an interview with Deaf Sparrow, the band said, “…These people do not know us, do not know what we are about, at ALL. I don’t need to make anyone else happy with what this band does. It’s not about pleasing the listener. If you are pleased, then great. If not, go fuck yourself. We could easily be carbon copies of other bands, but we still write what we want based on our reaction. Not that we’re this original band, to me we are, in the grand scheme we’re not. I think real recognizes real in the end of the day”. From that I get that they are inspired by the process of creation more than the final product, in that the lyrical content and journey to create the album is more important than the audience’s reaction to it. I respect the hell out of that, because this album is their chance as artists to express themselves and who am I to harsh their buzz?

The album really picks up steam at the fifth song, “As An Elder Learned Anew.” This song was the first that told a story I felt invited to be a part of. As a listener I want to be transported to a different time and place. I want to go on the journey with the band and I would encourage them to explore how they can express themselves and speak their truth by showing, not telling.

Recommended Songs:
“On Forgotten Ways”
“As An Elder Learned Anew”
“Ultra”

Grab your copy of As Was on Relapse Records here.

Rolling photo by Lani Lee.

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