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Mayhem, Dungeon, Hellspawn and Abominator - September 18th, 2002 - Sydney, Australia @ The Metro Theatre

By: See Review

The fact that the show was on a Wednesday night and was held at the Metro Theatre, a venue reserved for big-time-ish acts smack in the middle of Sydney’s CBD, led me to thinking this would have one of the smallest turnouts in the Metro’s history. But lo-and-behold I couldn’t be more wrong, with a comfortable capacity crowd turning up to witness the one and only Mayhem on their one and only Australian tour. It then came as no surprise that tonight’s was a show only a fan could walk away smiling from.

Mixing death and black metal much in the vein of Psychrist, Abominator were the first to unleash their chaos. In a huge display of blasting blasphemy and violence, their dark and malignant holocaust set the tone for the rest of the night well, but on their own they seemed somewhat lacklustre and are yet to really rise above their influences. A band not without potential though…

Hellspawn on the other hand delivered their set with nothing but pure satanic intensity and vicious heaviness. A band perhaps more well-known for who their ex-vocalist was than anything else, this lineup lacked nothing as they set about their complex and brutally fast black metal with a bloodthirsty vehemence. In a show of drumming prowess than could’ve rivaled the mighty Hellhammer’s, the skinsman was faultless in driving the assault and if Hellspawn didn’t nail a few more Sydney fans after tonight showing, nothing will. Awesome!

As popular as Dungeon are here in their homeground of Sydney, you’d be forgiven for asking yourself before their show “what the fuck are they doing here?”. But nonetheless, Dungeon stormed the stage and in their own classic inimitable style showed that all you really need for a good metal song is a catchy chorus and a good solo (which, basically, are what Dungeon are built on!). Even with a new album to flog, a sizeable portion of the set was the very familiar old material such as ‘I Am Death’, ‘Resurrection’ and the regular cover of Accept’s ‘Fast As A Shark’. When the new material was aired, it was frontman Lord Tim’s greatly improved guitar skills that really caught everyone’s eye – a quick volley of sweep picking in particular was superbly cool. When the last chords of ‘Traumatised’ were being struck, complete with Lord Tim’s rather questionable attempt at rough vocals, there was little doubt that Dungeon’s inclusion in tonight’s bill was actually a blessing in disguise, as their feel-good power metal proved the perfect counterpoint to the rest of the night’s grimness. Very nice indeed.

If there were ever one band that could epitomise the infamous Norwegian black metal scene of the early 90s, it’d be Mayhem. With people exiting the band in what they’d consider glorious circumstances, Mayhem have always had a reputation bigger than the music itself. So as the curtains drew back on the band’s 2002 incarnation, there was trepidation and anxiousness in the air as people wondered “can they live up to their hype?”.

Simple answer: yes and no. Die hard fans no less than convulsed in near-religious glee as Maniac and co plowed such cult black metal anthems as ‘Necrolust’, ‘Pagan Fears’, ‘Chainsaw Gutsfuck’ and ‘Pure Fucking Armageddon’, and when they opened the set with ‘Deathcrush’ it was clear there had been some people waiting for over a decade for this very moment. On the other side of this however, as is always the case with cult bands, only the cult followers would be able to appreciate it. Anyone along for the ride would’ve had the set fly straight over their heads.

For the band themselves, they performed faultlessly. Black metal’s living god Hellhammer was impeccable as always, even though his heavily triggered drum kit seemed almost contradictory to the rawer-is-better mentality of days gone by. Blasphemer tore through ‘Freezing Moon’s’ solo like he was possessed by the spirit of Euronymous himself, and as for Maniac… well, everyone tends to agree that Dead is the one and only true Mayhem vocalist. All in all, Mayhem did exactly what the fans expected them too – they played a no-bullshit set of pure northern black metal, and despite the absolutely terrible Grand Declaration of War material, it did their reputation no harm. Again however, you had to know what you were in for, and it’s no surprise some people were leaving the venue less than impressed.

By: Kev Truong

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