» Blog Archive Immolation, Mayhem's Unholy Alliance Takes NYC -
Evan Conway Hard Music, News, Reviews, Tours

DSC_0694 (2)So very rare is it that I look at a line-up and say to myself “That’s evil.” I like to think we’re past the point in time where we regard metal bands, no matter what genre, as “evil,” but sometimes I end up contradicting myself. Especially in regards to black metal and death metal, using “evil” as a description is so typical, especially when the bands themselves deserve more credit than that. Such is the case when Immolation announced they’d be touring with legendary Norwegian act Mayhem, supporting them on performances of their landmark album De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas. Most extreme tour of the year? Damn right.

Growing up in the tri-state area, coming into black metal resulted in myself stumbling upon bands in the area. The shock that befell me in realizing that there were bands stateside doing the same thing as Darkthrone and Emperor impressed me nonetheless. One of the first bands I heard of, however, was Black Anvil. Around 2010 saw Triumvirate come out, just as I started exploring the genre, and fast-forward seven years I was finally seeing the band live. With it being a hometown show for the band, the reception they received from the crowd was positive throughout, as the band loomed on stage in a gothic-blue aura. Musically diverse while sticking to the core of black and thrash metal, Black Anvil made quite the impression with enough ferocity and tenacity to impress even the most disgruntled, aged metal fan.

DSC_0725 (2)With the crowd already warmed up, it seemed like an easy stride for Yonkers’ Immolation. Having been performing under the name for nearly 30 years now, the band came out to the dissonant dirge of “The Distorting Light,” all before exploding into the band’s modernized, jagged signature sound that sets them apart from the rest of the pack. The beginning of the set was like a whirlwind of insanity, seeing as the band took little time in between songs and tried cramming as many tracks as possible into their 45 minute set.

Nearly thirty years into playing music live, most bands would rely on their early sounds and their classic albums as a crutch to appeal to fans. Immolation did the polar opposite and, instead, opted for a set focusing heavily on their newest album, Atonement. Hardly a complaint, considering how great the album is, seven of the band’s songs consisted of selections from the new album, with the crowd losing it spectacularly to songs like “Fostering the Divide.”. Immolation weren’t neglecting their older material, however, as they reserved “Burial Ground” off their debut album, Dawn of Possession, for perfectly timed moments in the set.

DSC_0740 (2)Instead of being a stationary act, Immolation took advantage of what little space they were confined to. Guitarist Robert Vigna contrasts that of his fellow shredder Alex Bouks, with Vigna being wild and chaotic, striking poses frequently towards the crowd. Bouks is far more collected and stylish in his approach, almost in a trance-like state as he and Vigna trade off lead parts and punishingly tricky rhythms. Situated between the two, vocalist and bassist Ross Dolan took every opportunity to break his stationary position, with instrumental sections by the band being his chance to break free and come into his own on stage.

Immolation closed their set out with a bang, thus leaving the remainder of the night for Mayhem to take control. After an extensive amount of setting up, some cross-related stage props, and an extra ten minutes of waiting, the lights went out and ominous, anxiety-inducing noise came over the PA. The band members walked on stage in cloaks, only identifiable by their instruments, and started De Mysteriis off with the genre-defining “Funeral Fog.” Frontman Attila Csihar DSC_1064 (2)took to the stage in his own cloak, however his face was clearly visible once the light flashed, revealing blood-red occult markings occupying his face. At one point, in the midst of wrestling the lighting (or lack thereof) for photos, I found myself locking eyes with Csihar, and being genuinely discomforted by the frontman’s over-the-top stage attire. One shouldn’t underestimate the power of Mayhem’s live performance, as the band ultimately deliver in almost every aspect.

Lighting woes aside, Mayhem did especially fall short in one aspect, and I could not shake the feeling of disappointment to know that the band were only playing De Mysteriis in full. I held my breath in anticipation to possible see what was already a chilling and dark performance push that boundary with the likes of “Deathcrush” or “Pure Fucking Armageddon,” but perhaps I’ll have to hold my anticipation ‘till next time for a full old-school Mayhem set. With the ticket price already being so high and the band being allowed until 11:30 to perform, it seems like a wasted opportunity to pull out their older, shorter, and “trve” songs to close the night out. Perhaps next time.

That said, Immolation and Mayhem’s unholy team up was nothing short of one of the year’s finest nights. Very little to complain about, yet so much to praise, the entire package was practically an early Christmas present, albeit one that would probably raise the concerns to your relatives. Regardless, I think I would absolutely pay top dollar for this line-up again, and that’s coming from someone who hates seeing a band play the same set more than once. There’s a certain magic to Immolation and Mayhem’s performances that make them immensely entertaining and the reason why death metal and black metal shouldn’t be underestimated in a live environment.

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