Black metal progenitors Mayhem are the bearers of Satan’s flame

VANCOUVER — Mayhem, the infamous Norwegian black metal band, was formed in Oslo in 1984 by guitarist Oystein Aarseth (“Euronymous”), bassist Jorn Stubberud (“Necrobutcher”), and drummer Kjetil Manheim. Suicides, homicides, and the burning of churches – yes it’s all related quite heavily to Mayhem and will forever be. Although littered with controversy over the years about band members being neo-Nazis, misanthropic and anti-Christian, Mayhem has continued making music, which has been characterized by the band’s revolving door of musicians. The possibility of the music standing for itself was always a question the metal community took to heart. Many a conversation and heated arguments have been had over the years. Regardless, Mayhem has continued on, with the current line up consisting of Necrobutcher, drummer Hellhammer, vocalist Attila Csihar, and guitarists Ghul and Teloch.

Esoteric Warfare, Mayhem’s fifth studio album, was released, with hesitated excitement, in June of 2014 – almost seven years after their last album, Ordo Ad Chao. Teloch, the current rhythm guitarist of almost four years, made some time to answer questions via email.

Teloch explains that the lyrical theme of Esoteric Warfare is about “mind control, secret nazi societies, cold war and flying saucers… Attila (the vocalist and song writer) is really into stuff like this, where as I am not a believer of all these conspiracy theories.”

Attila Csihar, vocalist of Mayhem for over ten years (replacing previous vocalist “Dead” after he committed suicide) and vocalist for the infamous album De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas, has recorded some of the most eerie and ghoulish ululations produced by a living entity for their new record. Seriously, it’s beautifully horid.

“We are into the more fucked up things in life…instead of flowers and machines for the kitchen,” Teloch explains about creating Esoteric Warfare. “It started with me making a vocal guide for Attila and we built the lyrics and vocal performances around that. He is a dream to work with and is always open to try new things.”

When asked about the musical aspect of the album Teloch confesses that it’s mostly straightforward Mayhem material for the first four songs “but the rest of the album is more experimental… I tried introducing some new elements.” For example the song “Milab” was written “as a very soft song, but it still has that creepy Frankenstein feeling to it that I like,” Teloch explains.

The inspiration for such demonic sounds from the album comes from a Canadian source. “Actually I was trying to make a Voivod-inspired song, but more evil,” Teloch confesses. “I get inspired by everything… a noise from a car parked outside my window… simple things like weird sounds that surround me in my daily life.”

Teloch responded to some controversial questions about Mayhem’s past and the contributions of Dead and Euronymous by simply stating, “This is Mayhem, so the intensity is quite rough sometimes when discussing things. I didn’t know the Euro or Dead, so I don’t speak about them. I hear some of the guys that knew them talk sometimes about them yes, of course. They were a big part of this band’s history… but then again I’m more interested in the future then the past.”

Mayhem just might be around for another 30 years if Teloch has his way, “but it’s not getting easier with this kind of extreme metal. Maybe its time to slow down a little bit for the next couple albums so that we can have some slow songs to play when we hit 70 or 80 years old,” jokes Teloch.

So, perhaps we can expect some slower songs from the next Mayhem album, but for now it’s all about the crude, obscured and maniacal metal.

By Serena Navarro

Mayhem perform at the Rickshaw Theatre January 26.

Thanks to Beatroute for publishing this article.

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Deafheaven, Sumac, Balance at Rickshaw Theatre – December 4th 2014

VANCOUVER — Thursday night started off with beers at Buick 6, a bar down the street from the Rickshaw Theatre. My friends and I were waiting with excitement to hear Sumac and Deafheaven take over the Rickshaw Theatre. Balance, a band from Vancouver, took the stage a little after 9 p.m. and got the crowd going with a hardcore sound.

Sumac is a supergroup with Aaron Turner (Old Man Gloom & Isis), Nick Yacyshyn (Baptists) and Brian Cook (Russian Circles). Sumac was a treat to watch and Aaron moves and shakes with excitement with every scream and guitar riff. Sumac officially played their first-ever live show and graced our ears with gradual progressive riffs that lead into sludgy crevices but kept the listener afloat with high pitch guitars. It was lovely.

Deafheaven (George Clarke and Kerry McCoy) came up on stage and started setting up their guitars and mics themselves. They then left the stage for a more ambient entrance with dimmed lights. They played songs from Roads to Judah (2011) and their most recent full length, Sunbather(2013).

Heavy metal music is a staple in my diet and Deafheaven walks that metal line well. Their live show was entertaining mostly because frontman Clarke convulses with the passion and love of his music. There is no doubt in my mind that music is his life. McCoy played the guitar with little movement or excitement in his face, a major contrast to George.

The crowd busted over with excitement when George announced they were to play their single, “From the Kettle Onto the Coil.” This fast black metal-laced song with crushing drums, vocals and beautiful guitars ended the night on a high note.

Photo and review by Serena Navarro

Thanks to Beatroute for the opportunity to review this show.

Septicflesh, Fleshgod Apocalypse, Black Crown Initiate, Necronomicon at Rickshaw Theatre – July 4th 2014

VANCOUVER — Conquerors of the World Tour arrived at the Rickshaw lead by Septicflesh from Greece and Fleshgod Apocalypse from Italy. Black Crown Initiate, a progressive metal band from Reading, Pennsylvania, and Necronomicon, a blackened death metal band from Montreal started the night.

“Stench of the Iron Age,” a track from Black Crown Initiate’s first EP, was being played when I found my way to the stage. It began slowly with a beautiful guitar riff and clean vocals but surged into death growls and fast drums. This band knows how to create a balance and the crowd dug it.

Necronomicon brought the windmills, the noise and the makeup. The set consisted mostly of their new album, Rise of the Elder Ones, and a couple old songs as they have been active for over 25 years. Necronomicon had a clean, heavy sound with lots of double kick, which reminded me of Behemoth.

Fleshgod Apocalypse, a technical symphonic death metal band, began their set with soprano singer Veronica Bordaccini eerily walking onto the stage in a mask and a Victorian dress. They sounded grand and atmospheric which was extremely present in the song “Minotaur.” They ended their set with “The Forsaking,” with a piano driven melody and melodic drumbeat that infused the crowd and got heads swaying.

Suns, moons and skinless bodies adorned several white banners for Septicflesh’s arrival. This Greek symphonic death metal band played songs off their last three albums. Titan, their ninth studio album, has arrived faster and heavier than the ones that preceded it and the crowd wasn’t complaining as a circle pit arrived. The climax of the night came when “Persepolis” was played and the crowd arranged for a wall of death.

By Serena Navarro

Thanks to Beatroute for the opportunity to review this show.

I am really digging Black Crown Initiate