December 3, 2015 Mayhem, Watain, & Rotting Christ Spellbound NYC 11-24-15
This past Summer, fans rejoiced after the announcement was made of the infamous Black Metal acts Watain and Mayhem were headed for a second round of the Co-Headlining North American Tour and calling it Black Metal Warfare Tour Part II. This time around, they added Grecians Rotting Christ to the bill, making it one of the best Extreme Metal shows of 2015. After the success it brought during the dead Winter of early 2015, fans were ready for this devious, blasphemous treat that kicked off on November 5th in New Orleans and concluded on November 28th in Atlanta, GA. Shortly before Americans were getting ready to celebrate Thanksgiving, Black Metal reigned and sold out the Music Hall of Williamsburg in Brooklyn, New York on Tuesday, November 24th.
The darkened lighting on the stage triggered excitement that rolled through the early crowd ready to see Rotting Christ. It has been four years since these Athenian Black Metallers toured in the United States during the late Winter of 2011, and it was obvious this evening fans were ecstatic to see such a return. Luckily it was an extended set for an opening act with a full forty-five minutes to perform. Maintaining a spirited energy, their style has evolved since their original formation in 1987, which was proven from their twelfth studio album, 2013’s Katá ton Daímona Eaf̱toú via Season of Mist. After quite a few lineup changes over the years, the latest lineup includes founding brothers Sakis (vocals/rhythm guitar) and Themis Tolis (drums), and since 2012, George Emmanuel (lead guitar) and Van Ace (bass).
Kicking the night off, demonic bells chimed in during “666” followed by “P’unchaw kachun-Tuta kachun,” which had fans cheering away until Themis ponderous drumming hooked all into a headbanging mesmerization. Sakis gathered all to clap their hands together as they rolled into “Athanati Este” from 2004’s Sanctus Diavolos and moved directly into the titled track, “Kata ton Demona Eautou.” Sakis conversed with the crowd as he devilishly announced the classic “The Sign of Evil Existence,” and “Transform All Suffering Into Plagues,” from 1993’s Thy Mighty Contract, added a ritual mastery as they bewitched the crowd. Fans continued to headbang when they dove into the Thou Art Lord cover of “Societas Satanas,” which enchanted the room. Sakis demanded all arms in the air as they pelted into “In Yumen-Xibalba.” Unfortunately, it was time for the set to come to a close as 2010’s “Noctis Era” concluded the set, leaving fans ready for more dark delights to come. Rotting Christ will be back for more, especially after the release of Rituals that will be available on February 12, 2016.
Next up were the Swedish Black Metallers infamously known as Watain. Recognized for their ritualistic performances including animal carcasses, blood, and elaborate candelabras since their formation in 1998, this evening was no different. Continuing to support their fifth studio album, 2013’s The Wild Hunt, Erik Danielsson (vocals/bass), Pelle Forsberg (guitar), Alvaro Lillo (bass), along with Degial’s Emil Svensson (drums) and Hampus Eriksson (guitar) were ready to possess the platform.
The stage was decorated for doom as two full body skeleton cages, held high, along with two scythes were placed behind. A wolf and bones backdrop was displayed in the back where it extended from the tip of the cages to the front of the drumset. The stage was lit as though Brooklyn was walking into the gates of hell. Expecting nothing less from Watain, a ritual table with candles were displayed along with severed heads of animals dripping with blood. An ominous tone erupted as Danielsson slowly handed out a cup, holding what one would believe to be a human skull with goat horns on the side. This ritualistic cup was filled with blood that would soon be thrown into the audience. This sacred cup was held high over his head as he walked towards the said table, kneeled beside it and set it on the table. Once Danielsson lit the candles, the music erupted and went into tracks “Underneath the Cenotaph,” from 2007’s Sworn to the Dark, followed by “Black Flames March,” from 2013’s The Wild Hunt. Danielsson announced the next track about the consequences between the high and low, as the room turned into a Black Metal inferno during “Angelrape,” from 1999’s Black Metal Sacrifice.
Continuing to bring all hell in as chaos ignited during “Outlaw,” Danielsson walked towards the ritual table, grabbed the sacred cup, and threw blood into the crowd. Fans rattled with darkened pleasure as the mosh pit grew along with the crowd-surfers. The barricade between the fans and the stage did not seem to matter as one fan managed to surf towards Danielsson as he pushed him away from the bottom of his mic stand with complete momentum. Continuing to shock the crowd, the wild set continued with “On Horns Impaled,” from Black Metal Sacrifice, to the sinister track of “Devil’s Blood” and “Legions of the Black Light.”
As the set was nearing a close, Danielsson beautifully introduced the next track by expressing to all that they were there to celebrate the remains of a cult that is not still dead, the ancient Black Metal Cult, which they are the descendants. As fans screamed with embracement, Danielsson continued and wanted to tribute the origin and roots as he welcomed one of the prime originators on the stage, Mayhem’s vocalist Attila Csihar, and went into “The Beyond.” The set closed with “Malfeitor,” from 2010’s Lawless Darkness, along with the “Requiem XIII,” where the ritual continued as Danielsson kneeled down with a sword-like item that was used to put the candles to rest as fans shouted out “Watain.” It certainly was a welcomed return for the band which have stuck to their creative vision despite the nearsighted vision of outsiders.
After goat’s blood splattered across the crowd, along with skulls being hung like drying laundry, it was time for the blistering Mayhem to continue with the enjoyable torments. One of the pioneers in Norwegian Black Metal history, Mayhem has brought hell to life since 1984. Ranking in the charts of being one of the most controversial bands in history with its chilling past including the suicide of Dead, the murder of Euronymous by former member Count Grishnackh, to a violent history of church burnings, and callous activity by former member Maniac, chaos has turned into an ongoing and unexpected adventure. As the blood settled slightly over the years, the latest lineup now includes Attila (vocals), Necrobutcher (bass), Hellhammer (drums), Charles Hedger (guitar), and Ghul (guitar). Necrobutcher was unable to attend the first tour earlier this year. However, after a few were dressed in disguises, this evening remained a mystery who was up on deck during this night’s live performance.
Continuing to support 2014’s Esoteric Warfare, the stage adorned with upside down crosses along with a massive gong, Metal warfare was ready to begin. While strobe lights hypnotized, Attila wandered on as he grabbed a few mysteriously evil items on the stage including a horrific rope that was tied as though someone was inducted for a hanging. Moving with a different prop that appeared as a lightning bolt to the crowd, Attila was ready to lead all into “Silvester Anfang” and into “Funeral Fog” from 1994’s De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas. Hailing in with fiery lights, Attila passionately held a human skull out to the crowd as he tenderly kissed it before going into “My Death” from 2004’s Chimera. Attila looked deep into the eyes of the darkened pit and, with no remorse, sucked everyone into “To Daimonion.”
The show took a deeper turn when 1987’s “Deathcrush” sprung in, starting as a traditional crowd surfing and moshing tune. A brave and intoxicated fan surfed onto the stage where he daringly held onto Attila’s shoulders. This moment looked entertaining as Attila guarded himself and thrust the fan back into the crowd. Showing not to disrupt the performance, he sat on the fan and continued to sing until the security came onto the stage, and even that was not enough. Continuing on, the performance did not diminish in quality, even when the venue’s main hall security member walked on to successfully kick this fan off as they both vanished into the sea of moshers. After this surprising havoc, the set settled down slightly with headbanging and screaming fans during “Psywar,” from Esoteric Warfare, and “Life Eternal,” from 1994’s De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas.
Once 1987’s “Chainsaw Gutsfuck” hit, the crowd intensified. Fans moshed with so much aggression that the barricade in the back of the venue was shaken up. The soundboard console moved forward as well. However, the sound remained sharp. The evening carried on in glory during “Freezing Moon,” from De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas, and “(Weird) Manheim,” from Deathcrush. As the set was coming down to the end of the wire, the titled track of “De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas” and “Carnage” ensued. Fans cried out the band’s name as they closed out with a portion of the classic “Pure Fucking Armageddon.”
Between the extremities of Watain’s reckoning delights and Mayhem’s brutal performance, this was an evening to be thankful for a second round of Black Metal Warfare. They stuck to their promises of surprises for this cycle, as it proved to be a perfect closeout of 2015 for the Extreme Metallers.