In the recent and celebrated music documentary film “A Headbanger’s Journey” the narrator is evidently taken aback when he is surprisingly allowed to meet Mayhem, the Norwegian black metal band surrounded by more chilling rumours and stories than any other. The history of the band makes Mayhem a true and tragic incarnation of the destructive turmoil their music bespeaks. The name stands for something stark and sincere and primal; something that embarrasses every feebly contrived band in their genre. The original Mayhem was formed in 1983 and became defining of the genre Black Metal. In the ensuing decade the band was haunted by death, murder and tragedy, and Mayhem became symbols of unredeemed blackness. Mayhem seized to exist with the purging of the Norwegian Black Metal scene in the early 90s –after one Mayhem member murdered another and set fire to a few churches. But in 95 the band was resurrected and since then they have enjoyed the status as the most uncompromising band in their genre (which pretty much makes them the most uncompromising musical entity around at all). Unwilling to reveal anything about their extra-musical selves and always enigmatically, and convincingly, referring to Black Metal as a phenomenon beyond common sense or understanding, Mayhem sustain a aura of menacing sincerity and uncanny dedication.
The music: one could imagine mounting a huge Gatling gun on stage and letting its full rotation rage constitute the locus and spine of a chilling choir of frantic guitars and a voice insane with blackness; a presence reminiscent of Lovecraft’s “Thing at the threshold”.
The band stays true to their expression after seventeen official releases. Although members come and go, Mayhem remains the band that manifests the blackness of black metal: the incomprehensible and secretive immersion in a darkness from which little else than torturous music emerges: no relativizing or contextualizing aspects and little information. There is thus always in place this factor of alienation and their fans around the world are kept in the dark, literally. When Mayhem appear on stage, and when new records are made available it is therefore a matter of the utmost gravity. The darkness descends -or should we say that it awakens and emerges from nooks and crannies, until the it has claimed the sky- again sometime in April.sd
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