United States immigration is like a bouncer at some upscale club. If you don’t get in, you have no idea why; just that you are not getting in. Unfortunately the heavy hand of the feds came down on Watain despite their many US tours previously and were denied entry into the country, so the Sanguine Sodomy of North America tour would have to proceed without those satanic Swedes. The good news is that Mayhem and Midnight made the best of it.
Rather than taking on another touring act, they reworked their sets to be longer. The Palladium filled with eager throngs, most in some sort of leather or at least black attire, and a few with corpse paint decorating their faces. Throwing hair and punching fists in the air, the crowd surged as Norway’s most infamous black metal band took the stage. If you don’t know the back story of one of the original black metal bands, there are plenty of sources to check out, and they certainly could have fallen prey to the same roadblocks that Watain faced on entry into the US.
Singer Attila Csihar is definitely one of the best black metal front men ever, his theatrical presentation in both stage outfits and movements twinned nicely with his growled, shrieked and sometimes operatic vocals. He certainly commanded the attention in the room, while flanking on left original member Necrobutcher laid down the bedrock of the songs on bass, and Hellhammer was efficient in pounding out the blast beats and ultrafast snare fills.
Mayhem broke their set into three distinct parts, with different stage presentations to complement the material. The first bit was focused on their newest record Daemon, but also sprinkled in some mid-era material. Commanding center stage with a ragged, flowing black robe and vestments, Csihar evoked the feeling of dread and hopelessness as the band churned out a storm of sonic destruction. The second act focused squarely on their most famous record, the one that came out ironically after both Death and Euronymous had died. May I dare say that “Life Eternal” featured a really catchy bass line from Necromancer? The descending notes were a sign to lead one into the abyss, and the faithful followed.
The ending bit focused on the brutal, wrenching birth of black metal, the primal Deathcrush and Pure Fucking Armageddon material. With the Conrad Schnitzler intro of “Silvester Anfang” leading them onto the stage, Csihar blasted right into “Deathcrush,” a song that lives up to its name. Can a song titled “Chainsaw Gutsfuck” be misinterpreted? And for the second show in a row for me, a song titled “Carnage” was played but while Nick Cave is no stranger to depraved depths of depression and violence, he’d never be seen delivering this sort of venom. This is where Mayhem lives, and we all love to visit.
Midnight are an aptly-named band, the kind of marauders who break into your house in the dead of the night and have their way with whatever they want. Family members, food, pets, plumbing fixtures – nothing is safe. In their trademark black masks, the trio blasted out a vicious set of thrash metal that featured Athenar’s propulsive bass and raw-throated singing. They just released Let There Be Witchery and it’s not a pop or hip-hop record; just more scorched earth bangers like “Telepathic Nightmare” and the ultra-catchy riffs of “Szex Witchery.”
You can’t have a Midnight show and not showcase absolute rippers like “Satanic Royalty” or “You Can’t Stop Steel” and no one went home disappointed. The set ended with a plastic trash barrel over Athenar’s head; we all live for the lust, filth and sleaze after all.