Last week’s brutal cold snap was the perfect harbinger that larger forces were on the move. The icy polar air mass that smothered the Northeast coincided perfectly with the arrival of two legendary Scandinavian black metal bands teamed up with a Canadian band, comprising the Black Metal Warfare tour. Mayhem is likely the most infamous black metal band in history, with tales of suicide, brain eating, murder and church burnings following in their blackened wake. Such checkered pasts tend to raise eyebrows at the visa office, and sole remaining founding member Necrobutcher found himself unable to play the first couple of dates, but the entire band was on stage for the first time in the tour.
Singer Atilla Csahir, perhaps most well-known via his tortured vocals with Seattle’s drone metal thrashers Sunn O))), took the stage looking like Win Butler’s doppelganger who found a tin of white makeup foundation, a black sharpie, and just bit into a still beating heart all the while clutching a skull like a demented Yorick. Flanked by a guitarist who was draped in all black, and another one who looked like a standard metal dude, Necrobutcher and Atilla churned out songs about misery, torture and overall despair with Hellhammer manning the blast-beats and bright cymbal splashes, perched up on his drum riser. Ending with “Pure Fucking Armageddon” seemed like a logical choice, and the hordes that filled the room cheered with appreciation.
Hailing from Sweden Watain is well-known for their satanic beliefs and rather pungent smell. There were no animal skulls or carcasses adorning the stage as at past shows, but leader Erik Danielsson started the proceedings off by carrying what looked to be an actual goat head and laying it down on a makeshift altar in front of the drum kit. Later in the set, he came out with a bowl adorned with horns and tossed what looked to be blood out onto the crowd. Bathed in fog and red light, coated in blood, selections such as “Death’s Cold Dark,” “Underneath The Cenotaph” and “Sworn To Darkness” helped to create the night’s only violent mosh pit. Up With People this isn’t.
It’s worth noting that Revenge took to the stage first. And while the trio had a well-worn path of grinding guitar/bass lines under cookie monster vocals, and the occasional guitar solo that sounded like Dave Chandler under electroshock therapy, the whole act quickly lost my interest.