Mayhem @ Fillmore at Irving Plaza (5/21/2009)

Logo - Mayhem

The True Mayhem was set to appear as headliner for the aptly named “Blackenedfest” with direct support from Sweden’s Black Metal elite Marduk, Cephalic Carnage, Cattle Decapitation and Withered.  As it would come to pass there was some snafu that kept Marduk from being a part of the show so instead we found the expected Cephalic Carnage and Withered along with the surprise addition of Lair Of The Minotaur opening up the tour at NY’s own Fillmore NY.  We shot photos of all bands performing and offered up commentary about the whole evening.

Artist: Mayhem
Venue: The Fillmore NY (New York, NY)
Opener: Marduk, Cephalic Carnage, Cattle Decapitation, Withered
Date: 5/21/2009
Label: Season Of Mist Records

While a holy day of obligation for those that choose to follow the Christian faith, the Metal acolytes that convened inside The Fillmore NY would be celebrating “Descension Thursday” for it was on this particular day that the Blackenedfest would kick off its tour and deliver its insidious assault on any who braved enter the venue. Readers will need to stick with me for a moment and pay attention because while this sinister bill was set to bring together the one and only Mayhem, perhaps the truest of the True Norwegian Black Metal bands in existence along with Marduk, equal demons in the Black Arts from Sweden along with Cephalic Carnage, Cattle Decapitation and Withered – the final product would be far from correct as those who arrived early to see the whole show would learn. Knowing that four solid bands were going to play made me want to arrive early and when I got in I found an unexpected surprise already in play. It seemed as though Lair Of The Minotaur was set up for this show and already delivering a crushing Doomish Black Metal set for the very minimal audience who had also arrived early. My guess was that the true crowd would get there for Marduk and Mayhem and that the larger Metal populace who had tickets had wanted to keep their energies for those two killer bands.

I didn’t know much about Lair Of The Minotaur before this show but I did kind of like what I was hearing so was cool with their addition to the mix. It was not long before they completed their set that I found that Cattle Decapitation was not going to perform at all tonight and instead catch up with the tour at a later date. I guess they had something else scheduled at the same time and while many folks like them and how they do things, I felt that they were a little out of place in terms of the theme and being not as “sinister” as some of the other bands on the roster. Having caught them a couple of times in the past I could say that while I found them intense that I didn’t really miss their not being here tonight. Withered was coming up next and the surprises would continue to come as well.

Withered: I had seen Withered as one of the opening acts when Watain had come to NYC back in October and I had enjoyed what they did. They were now the second band up tonight and before their gear was completely set up the screen that hangs between the band and the audience broadcasted a message that no one wanted to see “due to circumstances beyond our control, Marduk will NOT be appearing tonight”. Needless to say this had numerous fans up in arms because the arrival of Marduk had been the more interesting part of the show. Their advance press announcements found the band citing that “We come not in peace but in fire and flames” and as the tour began they ended up never coming at all. No one was talking about it more than cursing the outcome and I could swear that people were leaving to get their money refunded. I felt bad for Withered in some sense because they now had to play for an angry audience based on something that they had nothing to do with. Despite that the guys played an impressive set and managed to get some bodies moving around the floor in circle pits. I think we shall see a lot more of these guys on shows like this since they manage to keep the audience entertained and do deliver a very crushing, powerful vibe. Cephalic Carnage was up next and wow the night was really moving swiftly at this point.

Cephalic Carnage: These guys were the second of the performers tonight that I needed some live education in and they are currently signed to Relapse Records. They were one of those names that I never followed over the years and while this is an oversight on my behalf I do know how they are considered pioneers in the Deathgrind aspect of Metal. They were truly a tight outfit on the stage and were kicked peoples asses in and trying to keep them engaged by periodically talking to them. The lead singer jokes around quite a bit during the set which I felt mix it up a bit and keep it different from the super seriousness that happens during the Black Metal performances. I found them to be technically proficient and would definitely see them do this again. I was not too sure of their set list and given the fact that the band has five studio albums one can only imagine that what we saw tonight was a little sampling from each of them. As they completed their set I noticed that the crowd who was going to be here were in place and it was a certainty that some had left based on the absence of Marduk. I would not have done that in all honesty because you were still getting a powerhouse for the genre and a band that is worth seeing in concert. The time now seemed to slow to a crawl as the stage was prepared for the arrival of Mayhem.

Mayhem: In the Black Metal genre there are few bands that are considered as notorious as Mayhem and while tonight’s grouping of musicians are many, many lineup changes since their beginnings the essence of evil that they exude permeated the venue and was like a living thing unto itself. The curtain was drawn and a solitary and sinister looking fellow began to set up a podium style thing and two pikes with disembodied heads upon them. They were covered with “blood” and had dangling flesh from them. The figure did not look at the audience and instead just did his work and shuffled off stage, it was eerie and only the first sign of what was to come. The band took about 30-40 minutes it seemed to arrive on the stage and when they did it was like a hurricane of evil intent set upon the fans. The band rumbled through their legacy material with opening tune “Pagan Fears” and when singer Atila Csihar walked onstage you felt as if you were in the presence of something out of your worst nightmares. He was wearing some seriously heavy makeup on his face and wore a head to toe dark robe with a hood. His arms sported gauntlets that looked as if they would tear the flesh off of bones and if you needed a quick adjective about the whole outfit I would say to use “terrifying”. The rhythm section of Necrobutcher (bass) and Hellhammer (drums) were simply devastating the room this evening and among the bands longest running members. The guitars were being handled by both Morpheus and Silmaeth who I am told are relatively new to the bands lineup. As the show progressed the singer just stalked back and forth around the stage and periodically rubbed up against the spiked heads and even lifted something else with body parts dangling from it over his head a couple of times. One felt as if they were watching a serial killer enjoying his work and the dramatic lights and smoke made this all the more effective.

The crowd was going insane for what was being dished out by Atila and the rest of the Mayhem camp and I mentioned to a friend who was with me about how troubling and ill at ease the show was making me feel. No, I was not finding a weakness in the knees or fear of the unknown because of the gig but instead was so overpowered by the absolute success of the bands visual display that it left me and I am sure many others with a sense of dread. Talk about delivering an effective presentation and with one that looked as authentic as it was with the throttling music behind it was proving that it was not a night for the squeamish. Back in the day when the band was building up its legend I hardly followed their sound but I did recognize the inclusions from their debut “Deathcrush” and the tracks from their considered seminal work “De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas”. They did three from the first recording and a solid five from the sophomore effort and it was these tunes that were like blood in the shark infested waters for the fans. The crowd was really nuts at some points and flying over the photo pit security barrier and through it all Atila kept inciting more and more of this activity to take place with song after sinister song.

In the end I felt that this was a killer night despite the cancellation of the Marduk portion of the show. Mayhem did deliver an incredible set and if you are a hard core fan of the band and was not here for this one then you really missed out on an interesting display. The reception that they received made me certain that a return visit is in their future and I would not miss it lest you incur the wrath of Atila who might surely wish to speak to you about your insolence. One can expect such an audience would leave a person speechless, but that would probably be based on his removing your tongue for a future stage prop. Be warned and see you next time. Let’s hope that Marduk gets their affairs sorted out and picks up the rest of the dates on this tour so those fans don’t find themselves as disappointed as the New York City ones were.

Mayhem Set List:
1. Pagan Fears
2. Ancient Skin
3. From The Dark Past
4. My Death
5. A Time To Die
6. View From Nihil
7. Illuminate Eliminate
8. Anti
9. Freezing Moon
10. Crystalized Pain In Deconstruction
11. Silvester Anfang
12. Deathcrush
13. Buried By Time And Dust
14. Carnage
15. De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas
16. Pure Fucking Armageddon

I neglected to snap any images of the other stuff around me this event but I did get a visual of the poster that was being used for most of the tour.  Of course by the time the tour had hit NYC neither Marduk nor Cattle Decapitation were going to perform.

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4 thoughts on “Mayhem @ Fillmore at Irving Plaza (5/21/2009)”

  1. Mayhem! One of my all-time favs :). They came last year to my country (Peru) and the concert was pretty cool. I haven’t heard of Withered… I’ll definetely look it up. Thanks!
    Continue the good work, kenny 😀
    Cheers from the land of Incas

  2. Awesome pictures you’ve got there! Sounds like a great show – I’m kicking myself for missing it, especially since Cattle Decapitation were there! Cool stuff all around. I checked out the new Mayhem album a few days ago- not bad, not bad at all.


  3. Ok so i’m super late with this. So in other words I super suck, but at least I am FINALLY taking the time to offer my as you say “words of wisdom” on your review of this show. I will say you def got it right with saying yes Mayhem was absolutely “terrifying”. If you asked me or made me say what the show was going to be like i could not have imagined that EVEN if you gave me some props to work with. Earlier in the day I asked Attila what kind of corpse paint will he be wearing and he said I got something in mind you will see. First off i never thought he’d come out paying tribute to Euronymous with the black robes and the giant upside crucifix. And the paint was just AMAZING. I mean he must of used like either some kind oatmeal to get the scalely effect. I of course did not know this a friend suggested it could be that to me. But as for the show it really was amazing. I just wish people (who do not get to show early or do not have any close friends up front) would not think oh yeah I have every right to bump whoever is up front out of the way when Mayhem comes on. People like this (whether your a girl or a guy) need to get punched or elbowed in the face. No matter how the crowd is pushing you. You didn’t get there early enough have the respect for the people that do. But anyway cause of these assholes I did not get to enjoy the FULL show up front. Even with looking all grim and shit with the corpse paint I was doning. My skin from my stomach getting pinched against the barrier was just tooo fucking much. But for what I did get to see wow what an expierience. And once again your review for anyone who did not get to intend was spot on. It does suck that Marduk did not get into the country but WAR was just suspended and to our grim enjoyment we would get to witness the battle in the very near future. Thanks for another killer review Ken. (appologies again that my comments are late)

  4. Make no mistake, I came to see one band and one band only, however, the second my ticket got scanned I found out that MARDUK was cancelling yet another area show. I was pissed, I didn’t care to see the opening acts nor whatever constituted MAYHEM these days. Although they and VENOM are be all all, end all of Black Metal, MAYHEM no longer has it’s core in place. Murder, suicide, prison have left the band decimated, only the drummer HELLHAMMER remains from the premiere lineup…or so I thought.

    It took them a while to get set up but let me tell you when the house lights went down and the curtain went up and the flags and banners were dropped, the band that took the stage last night was MAYHEM. Rock N Roll is 99% swagger, if you can go up there and strike a pose of evil, and you have enough self-confidence to pull it off, then by God, you can be the most metal band in the world. You don’t have to even play well, hell, I could barely make out the songs that I knew but they were done with conviction, power and evil.
    Here’s the kicker, as opposed to the last time I saw them at Wetlands 10 years ago, this time they actually covered songs from their only album worth getting, Dom Mysteriis De Sathanas. They started off with Pagan Fears and also played Buried By Time And Dust, Deathcrush a few others and a positively epic version of Freezing Moon. Wow, and to top things off the voice on stage was the voice used on most of the original recordings.. Atilla replaced Dead after the suicide. I wonder what Euronymous would think seeing that spectacle last night. Would he be proud of his infernal creation? In a way seeing MAYHEM these days is akin to seeing the DOORS without Jim Morrison, the heart of the band is gone. But I will say this, from what I saw, heard and felt last night the evil presence he conjured 25 years ago in Norway is still alive and well. All hail satan.

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