Monday, May 28, 2012

Review: Mayhem - The Dawn of the Black Hearts

This review features a special article with it. If you wish to skip the article, you will find the review below it. Mayhem are a Norwegian black metal band that have been around since 1984 and are seen by most black metal fanatics as the godfathers of the genre. Co-founder and at-the-time guitarist Euronymous has been credited with converting various would-have-been death metal bands (such as Darkthrone, Emperor and Immortal) into the black metal gods we know them as today.

Genre: Black Metal
Label: Warmaster Records
Release Date: February 17th, 1995

  1. Deathcrush
  2. Necrolust
  3. Funeral Fog
  4. Freezing Moon
  5. Carnage
  6. Buried by Time and Dust
  7. Chainsaw Gutsfuck
  8. Pure Fucking Armageddon
Total Playtime: 37 minutes, 57 seconds




 


Rating: 9.0/10




The Morbid Tale

Mayhem are a Norwegian black metal band that have been around since 1984 and are seen by most black metal fanatics as the godfathers of the genre. Co-founder and at-the-time guitarist Euronymous has been credited with converting various would-have-been death metal bands (such as Darkthrone, Emperor and Immortal) into the black metal gods we know them as today.

In 1988 at the age of 19, Pelle Yngve Ohlin (better known by his stage name Dead) joined Mayhem as their vocalist. Dead was unlike any other performer at his time, going to great lengths to ensure he achieved the image and stage presence he wished to portray. Fellow band member Hellhammer described Dead as "a very strange personality... depressed, melancholic, and dark." Euronymous also once stated "I honestly think Dead is mentally insane."

Dead desired to look like a true corpse on stage, sometimes he would bury his clothing... days or weeks ahead of time... then dig them up on the night of a show so that they were covered in dirt and full of holes and insects, stinking of the earth. He said this helped complete his on stage appearance, along with the use of corpse paint. Corpse paint is made of a white base and black grease paint, applied to make one look more skeletal and dead. Euronymous has credited Dead with being the first black metal performer to wear corpse paint on stage, and that he is where many of the later black metal bands got their influence from.

With Dead performing with them, Mayhem's shows quickly became notoriously famous in the underground; for not only the make up but also the blood-soaked performances. Dead would cut himself with hunting knives and broken glass on stage, and on one tour he even found a dead crow which he put into a plastic bag and carried around with him. Dead would smell the rotten fowl before a gig in order to "sing with the stench of death in his nostrils."

On April 8th 1991, Euronymous found Dead at home in his bed deceased. He had several self inflicted wounds across the arteries in his wrists and a shotgun wound to his head, along with the grim scene there was a suicide note left by Dead that came with an apology for having shot a firearm indoors and to "Excuse all the blood." Euronymous got his camera and took pictures of the blood and gore covered death scene, and one of these pictures became the infamous photo that you see above, used on the album cover of this bootleg.

After the suicide, rumors began to obscure the underground; that Varg Vikernes (Count Grishnack, Burzum) had given Dead the shotgun since he knew that Dead practiced with one in the woods near where Mayhem lived at the time. That Euronymous took pieces of Dead's brain and ate them in some stew that he made with vegetables and ham, having "always wanted to taste human flesh, this was the easiest way". That Hellhammer played the drums live with some of Dead's bones. Though through the rumors, one was finally confirmed real with the release of "The Dawn of the Black Hearts". Many had said that Euronymous collected fragments of Dead's skull and fashioned them into necklaces for himself and Hellhammer. This is what the back of the album has to say:

"We have no vocalist anymore! Dead killed himself two weeks ago! It was really brutal, first he cut open all his arteries in the wrists and then he had blown off his brains with a shotgun. I found him and it looked fucking grim, the upper half of his head was all over the room, and the lower part of the brain had fallen out of the rest of the head and down on the bed. I of course grabbed my camera immediately and made some photos, we'll use them in the next Mayhem LP. I and Hellhammer were so lucky that we found two big pieces of his skull and we have hung on necklaces as a memory.

Dead killed himself because he lived only for the true old black metal scene and lifestyle. It means black clothes, spikes, crosses and so on... but today there are only children in jogging swit and skateboards and hardcore moral ideals, they try to look as normal as possible. This has nothing to do with black, this stupid people must fear black metal! But instead they love shitty bands like Deicide, Benediction, Napalm Death, Sepultura and all that shit!! We must take this scene to what it was in the past! Dead died for this cause and now I have declared war!! I'm angry, but at the same time I have to admit that it was interesting to be able to examine a human brain in rigor mortis.

Death to false black metal or death metal!! Also to the trendy hardcore people... aarrgghh!!"


Euronymous.... April 1991, two weeks after Dead's suicide.


Review

Volumes of Sin does not make it a habit to review, or post, any bootleg albums and material (so don't start sending us any), however with the notorious and disturbing past associated along with this one particular bootleg (along with the fact that it was released by the band themselves) makes it a genuine exception to the rule.

First to mention, if you were too lazy to read the above story, the album cover is an actual post-suicide photograph of Dead, who joined the band in 1988 as the vocalist, taken by guitarist Euronymous in 1991. Euronymous said that

"Dead killed himself because he lived only for the true black metal scene and lifestyle. It means black clothes, spikes, crosses and so on. Dead died for this cause and now I have declared war!"

Aside from the grisly, grim story behind the album art, this bootleg is noted to have "The True Mayhem line-up" which features Dead on vocals, Hellhammer on drums, Euronymous on guitar, and Necrobutcher on bass. Unfortunately, this line-up was never seen on any studio release, only the "Studio Tracks" demo tape and another live album released in 1993.

What should be blatantly obvious to most (this being a bootlegged live recording from a show in 1990 and all) is that the audio quality is going to, and does, suck. Even though the album was released in 1995, the amateur recording itself comes from a live performance in Sarpsborg, Norway 1990. The guitar is full of fuzz and high pitched distortion, the drums are sometimes overpowering, the bass is nothing but a muffled loud thumping, and the vocals have a tendency to get swallowed up amongst the chaos. But audio quality is not really something to be paying attention to when listening to a bootleg show, especially one done before such advanced technological equipment was available to the general public.


The track/set listing would've been about standard for the time and has all of the classic early Mayhem songs; "Funeral Fog", "Freezing Moon", "Pure Fucking Armageddon", and "Deathcrush". Hellhammer's drumming is relentless and aggressive. Euronymous' guitar parts are heard fairly clearly, but sometimes they just become a loud and unrecognizable clusterfuck of high pitched distortion and squealing. Dead's vocals really bring a haunting ambiance to the music with his raw emotions and the subtle eerie echos. One of the most notable lines in this bootleg is when he introduces "Freezing Moon".  

"When it's cold, and when it's dark, the freezing moon will obsess you!!!"

At some points, you can even close your eyes and feel that you're at the show since nothing was edited out of the raw audio tape. The crowd can still be heard, between song tuning, song introductions, it is all here in greasy, raw, kvlt glory.

Poorly produced? No. Just a poor quality, raw audio tape of an incredible setlist and performance featuring the true Mayhem line-up that many kvltists and black metal fans around the world would die to see. Good luck finding it, however. Originally, these were only printed on LP vinyls and in a limited quantity of 500. Why only vinyl? A flyer promoting the album stated:

"This has only been released on LP only because this way you will see this brutal photo in full details!!"

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