On an unseasonably warm February evening in Dallas, a diverse group of metalheads descended upon Deep Ellum’s famous alternative venue Trees to witness the performance of one of the most controversial albums ever released. The revival tour of Mayhem’s 1994 black metal magnum opus De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas is particularly unique because the album was never toured after its initial release due to the murder of guitarist Euronymous by fellow bandmate Varg Vikernes. Therefore, unlike most album revival tours, remaining original band members Attila Csihar and Hellhammer will attempt to perform their legendary work in full as a means to redeem the music from its tainted history. With a solid opening lineup, the evening promised to be a fantastic night for black metal fans.
First to take the stage was the melodic black metal outfit Black Anvil. The band leaned heavily on their melodic elements for the majority of the set with impressive three part clean vocal harmonies and even a guitar solo that would have easily fit into a power metal song. The crowd was mostly receptive to the band but it was apparent that they were ill-matched to the stark, relentless black metal of the next two acts. The set ended up being enjoyable, but the band was definitely more concerned with rocking out than creating an atmosphere.
Next up was black metal veterans Inquisition. The two piece band immediately stirred the crowd into a frenzy with their unique brand of cosmic black metal epics. Lead guitarist and vocalist Dagon commanded the stage with impressive tremolos and a voice that can only be described as a screeching frog from the pits of hell. Dagon briefly interacted with the crowd a couple of times and memorably growled “Hail Darkness” before ripping into “Dark Mutilation Rites.” The highlight of the set was easily the intense “Command of the Dark Crown” from the band’s classic Ominous Doctrines of the Perpetual Mystical Macrocosm. Once Inquisition had finished, the crowd cried for an encore to no avail.
After a mood setting instrumental recording, Mayhem finally appeared through dense fog to display their genre dominance. As promised, the cloaked group performed their classic work in full and, if the reaction of the crowd was any indication, its bleak, relentless tracks have aged extremely well. The blistering rendition of “Pagan Fears” ended up being the best song of the night with the crowd writhing with intensity throughout the performance.
The star of the show was unquestionably lead vocalist Attila Csihar’s theatrical performance. Haunting the stage like a hunchback and donning corpse paint that imitated rotting flesh, Csihar histrionically gestured and convulsed above the audience. Near the end of the set, Csihar brought out a skull that he serenaded with his otherworldly screeches.
Overall, the set was extremely atmospheric with two lone candles lighting the middle of the stage and deep red and blue lights flaring up throughout. Occasionally in between songs, the band would add to the atmosphere by disappearing from the stage while a recorded instrumental or drone would play. While they did not perform an encore, the crowd was clearly satisfied with the band’s fantastic performance.