I love the Electric Ballroom. It’s a cavernous space, the acoustics are good, it’s close to the Camden tube and- crucially- the bars are easily accessible. It was the ideal venue for Wednesday evening’s entertainment. Mayhem (these days going by the name True Mayhem) played their era- defining classic De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas and we were there to witness proceedings.
Dragged Into Sunlight opened the night with a hugely confident set. I had never heard of them before, but they were absolutely brutal (and had the stage presence to match). Recommended. The crowd was a pretty good mix. As per usual, most of London’s metal tribes were well represented, but I dare say it was a more diverse crowd than usual. Some folks were band t- shirt casual and some less so (Ladies walking around in leather thongs, gentlemen parading their tattooed foreheads, that sort of thing). The occasional boorish moron aside, almost everyone was cheerful and chatty. Some dude told me I looked like a member of Red Fang, which should be up there in the pantheon of great chat up lines. Essentially we mostly smoked, drank and ambled along. My friends had seen Mayhem before and I was never a huge fan, so we were content to take in the sights.
It’s kind of weird to see one of the most controversial bands of all time (the history of which is plagued with murder, fire, suicide, decapitated pigs and controversial – no – despicable ideologies) do all the things that most veteran bands do. Playing a classic album live, touring the world, asking the audience to not use flash photography, etc. But then they come on stage and you forget everything. They are gleefully, effortlessly charismatic. Appearing behind a thick fog of dry ice, they were clad in black robes and sported what looked like 80s horror movie demon makeup. It’s hard to tell because of all the smoke. Anyway, without any preamble, they proceeded to demolish us. Musically, they are a far tighter outfit these days, but what they lost in CVLT lo-fi cred they gained in dynamics and skullcrushing noise. But the reason they are such a force to be reckoned with is Attila Csihar’s banshee shrieking. Even on a mild London weeknight, the effect is hair raising. For the finale there were candles and an altar and all that, and it was all splendid family entertainment. Don’t miss them if you get the chance.