Making their way across the country playing songs from their latest offering, Ominous Doctrines of the Perpetual Mystical Macrocosm, Inquisition made a last minute detour to Atlanta for a show of cosmic demonic fury. Singer/guitarist Dagon, a Colombian import who calls Washington State home, and drummer Incubus, slithered onto the stage in serpentine corpse paint after local brothers in darkness Abyssus and Disfigurement opened the show.
If there’s one thing to be said about metal audiences it’s that they are a dedicated bunch. With only a few days notice via local metal message boards and blogs, 60+ black-clad long-hairs (and some shaved heads too) turned up at the converted warehouse on the edge of the Bluff with $10 bills in hand.
Slathered in morbid makeup, Abyssus unleashed a wall of raw malevolence as they stood shrouded in darkness, and backlit by a blaring blood-red spotlight. Each of the group’s rapid-fire assaults smashed into the next with scathing force, and while the intricacies of the music were never lost in the volume, they were ultimately consumed by the natural distortions of a loud young band playing its guts out in what is ostensibly a concrete room.
The second band, Disfigurement leaned toward the death metal side of the spectrum with its show of riffs and the growling, grumbling metal by-the-numbers; no make-up for these dudes. On stage the group bore the mark of a band that has spent years harvesting both its poise and pose, and they laid down some pretty hefty riffage. But compared to the spectacle that was about to unfold, Disfigurement was just the half-time show.
Inquisition’s slow and low rumble was something altogether different as each song moved at the pace of a coming storm — an ominous, hypnotic traipse that burst wide-open with fits of unorthodox drumming and seductive harmonics. The group careened through a dozen or so songs, pressing the limits of all that defines black metal while exposing hidden avenues of avant-garde resonance — not an easy chore for a two-piece. But despite (or perhaps because of) the stripped-down lineup, Inquisition’s drawn-out rhythms and drones worshipped the dark matter of the universe as much as it gave rise to a sense of ethereal mysticism — Satanism not withstanding.
There are those who insist that Mayhem died when vocalist Dead took a shotgun and blasted himself to Valhalla back in 1991, or when one-time bassist Varg Vierkens (Burzum) murdered guitarist Euronymous two years later in ’93.
Alas, Mayhem still walks among the living, and under the reign of its caped and painted up frontman Attila Csihar the group has moved beyond its disturbing past. For Thursday’s show the lineup also featured long-standing members Necrobutcher (bass) and the true MVP Hellhammer (drums), along with guitarists Morfeus and Teloch. Personnel aside, the group has adopted a baroque, almost operatic sound that transcends mere black metal, culminating in a show of refined dark romanticism and brutality. Such seminal classics as “Deathcrush,” “Chainsaw Gutsfuk,” and “Freezing Moon” were delivered with just as much dark fury as ever.
Attila’s presence on stage was vampiric, personifying the group's evolution while the rest of the band’s members skulked behind a haze of dense fog, further obscured by rays of lush blue and red light. Clutching a human skull in his left hand, and an upside down cross/wireless microphone in his right, Kitsch and self-caricature were all just part of Attila’s show. Was it campy? Yes, but when lost in the moment, in front of a few hundred head-bangers that were giving the energy right back, campy is a subjective term.
With so much psychic energy that’s been devoted to this band’s mythology over the years it’s easy to forget that this is, after all, entertainment. Mayhem knows this and has garnered legions of fans that are just as intrigued by the story as they are by how the group has continued to thrive. The key lies in remaining to the left of black metal’s antagonistic center. It’s a genre that Mayhem, at one time, defined and later brought to a larger audience. And to look out over the sea of whiplashing hair and arms raised, pointing devil horns toward the heavens, it’s plain to see that as the group has persisted, it has remained relevant in the eyes of many a dedicated fan.
In the end, both nights were bound by more than dark aesthetics for sake of shock value, these band played as though their souls depended on it, and they probably did.
Too many memories. I remember we were smoking meth on the back patio and a…
Awesome memories for sure... Lenny's played such a major role in my music life. My…
I met my 1st husband at Dotties! Carnal Carnival Days!
that place was rad. sluts everywhere and awesome pours on the drinks. killer shows. so…
Trashed Dance Rock Party