Have you ever seen Metal: A Headbanger’s Journey? If you haven’t, we suggest you check out this documentary if you need an anecdotal catch-up to what the Norwegian godfathers of black metal are all about.
We’re talking about a band known for church burnings throughout Norway, as well as the infamous deaths of band members, yes that’s right, multiple. Mayhem have a truly dark past, but they’ve kept their legacy alive and they’re hitting Aussie shores shortly to play a very special album in its entirety.
The very album that was fresh during the band’s most contentious years was the band’s very first – De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas – a record that vocalist Attila Csihar joined the band to put together, as he really wanted to be a part of it. Bear in mind that the front-man was recruited after some of these contentious and monumental historical events.
We managed to get a few minutes with the Hungarian vocalist to discuss the upcoming tour and gauge the mood of the band in the current day.
In terms of enthusiasm, Csihar didn’t need any convincing. “We’re fucking excited to come back to Australia. [Perth] was my first show ever in Australia with Sunn O))) (American experimental metal band)” The front-man says as he enquires about the South-West corner of the country.
“It’s exotic you know, and I want to see the people and I’m looking forward to it, it’s always been very great” he says in a Nordic/Hungarian accent. Csihar then transitioned into a really passionate description, embodying the very documentary excerpt described above.
“Australia has always been very cool, never told us to fuck off, fans have been great, the place is cool, you are more chill if I can say that maybe than the rest of the world which is a bit more fucked up (he laughs devilishly). The rest of the world can get fucked if I can talk honestly. There’s one side of the globe that’s fucking good and that’s Australia.” The chat got more and more enticing as his voice deepened with conviction and he channelled Lucifer himself.
“It’s going to be summer when we come and it’s good to get out a bit from the winter time” – does the winter ever stop with black metal?
Mayhem haven’t often revisited the infamous record they’re playing in Australia, but have been able to move on from their past. “Eventually we decided to play this, it took us so long because for it was very dark, even too dark for us and very emotional – it brought up a lot, and this was at a fucking time that the band was burnt to ashes and we were just repairing it.”
The record was released in the early 90s, even though it was recorded in the late 80s, but delayed due to some of the tragic events taking place.
Treading carefully, we entertained the idea of revisiting the band’s past to get some light on the situation. If you aren’t aware of what we’re referring to, it’s highly recommended to check out the band’s Wikipedia page here. But, in a nutshell, an ex-band member of the band murdered a fellow bandmate with another band member committing suicide soon afterwards.
Plenty of rumours started to spread about the black metalers during this time as these events were happening, including the fact that bandmates made a stew with bits of the suicided bandmate’s brain (which was denied), and that bandmates wore necklaces made of his skull fragments (this one not publicly denied). And so, we had to ask, but Csihar seemed well trained in responding to the press and avoided it quite rapidly.
“I don’t know much about this, I never wore one of those so I cannot say.”
So moving on then… what was it about this record that the front-man at the time wanted to be a part of. “The album was something that I had to be a part of, it was something special, and you know it had all of my friends in it so I just had to. It’s very dark and it just sounded amazing.” He also emphasises the desire to play with such an infamous band, particularly in its day, with candid reference to Mayhem’s history of church burning and the like.
Despite the drama occurring in the era of this album, it’s known today as one of the most influential albums of its kind and is highly respected.
In closing, Csihar encourages all black metal fans to come to the show, as he describes it as a once-in-a-lifetime type scenario. “This is a special tour, this is it, and we are probably not going to do this kind of tour again so everyone should come along” – he says succinctly and threateningly in a monotonous tone with his Hungarian/Scandinavian accent.
Man, I love heavy metal.
Interview by Ricky Aarons @rickysaul90
Mayhem – The True Mayhem Tour
feat. BÖLZER, Ruins & Départe
Tuesday, 16th January @ Perth, Capitol
Wednesday, 17th January @ Melbourne, Max Watts
Thursday, 18th January @ Sydney, Max Watts
Friday, 19th January @ Brisbane, The Triffid
Sunday, 21st January @ Hobart, Mona Foma