The Triffid, Brisbane QLD
January 20, 2023
Supports: Ulcerate and Werewolves
While their years of infamy may be long behind them, the near 40 year history of Mayhem has made them an absolute institution in the black metal world. Far from strangers to our vast land, Mayhem‘s ‘Thallasic Ritual’ tour is the Norwegian legend’s first Australian tour in nearly eight years. With a setlist that promises a deep dive into their back catalogue, Mayhem are joined by New Zealand tech-death juggernauts Ulcerate and Aussie death metal maniacs Werewolves. They, along with a near full black-shirt-clad Triffid, are welcomed with an unseasonably – yet aptly – grim and overcast late January Brisbane evening.
With riffs for days, Melbourne’s Werewolves thrash-driven death metal assault may be a leap away from the headliners frost-bitten sound, but they immediately get the night off to a thunderous start. With the room quickly filling, the trio tear through an air-tight half an hour set. Signed to international heavyweights Prosthetic Records, the prolific three-piece are quickly making their name both locally and overseas. Having Psycroptic’s Dave Haley behind the kit is no laughing matter, with Australia’s finest extreme metal drummer effortlessly blitzing through blastbeats and fills. Sure, it’s a little one-flavour – speed is the name of the game here – but the ear catching guitar parts and passages come frequently. Despite only having a handful of live shows under their belts, Werewolves’ display of unrelenting pace and power makes for a fantastic show opener.
With the venue nearing capacity, the tone and mood seems to get more serious and brooding as the next trio takes to the stage. As arguably New Zealand’s finest extreme metal export, Ulcerate’s immense sound is built upon the combination of the jarring complexity and dissonance of technical death metal with the emotion and stirring crescendos of post-metal. With their 40 minute set comprising of just five songs – including a heavy selection from the excellent 2020 LP Stare Into Death And Be Still – their set regularly becomes an enveloping wall of noise, with complex drumming and waves of guitars. Despite being three members, the Kiwi’s make a hell of a racket – especially with guitarist and founding member Michael Hoggard’s liberal use of delay and reverb. It’s an engrossing and well-oiled set for the lauded act – however perhaps they weren’t the best choice of support for Mayhem? While Werewolves were able to win over the crowd with their sheer energy and wide-eyed enthusiasm, Ulcerate’s more thoughtful and progressive approach is seemingly less immediately satisfying to a Friday night black/extreme metal crowd, with large swaths of the crowd happy to chat in the back during their set. This absolutely takes nothing away from Ulcerate’s performance, with NZ group comfortably one the tech-death world’s best and most interesting bands.
Despite the sharp rise in the cost of international touring (and everything else), kudos to Mayhem for visiting Australian shores once again. Receiving a hero’s welcome to the stage, their triumphant arrival return sees the Triffid crowd reach fever pitch with disorientating lighting and thunderous intro music. The Norwegian’s performance is divided into three distinct sets; something of a reverse-chronological trek through their history. The first sees the quartet pull from their most recent catalogue. The three tracks from 2020’s fantastic Daemon are big highlights, but the show opening ‘Falsified and Hated’ is sadly neutered with initially horrid mix – Hellhammer’s snare is non-existent. Fortunately things on the sound-front improve quickly, to a point – this is black metal after all. The drums are drenched in reverb – the toms in particular are almost cavernous – while the raw, almost buzzing guitar and bass tone cuts like a rusted knife.
Mayhem’s black metal masterpiece De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas is the focus of the second set, with the opening ‘Freezing Moon’ garnering tonight’s biggest reaction. With the band now cloaked in hoods and the lighting changing to match the album’s dark purple hue, everything feels like it’s been turned up a gear. The crowd begins to show serious signs of life with circle-pit inducing ‘Pagan Fears’, with longtime frontman Attila Csihar easily matching their energy. The vocalist is like a man possessed throughout; borderline in his own world at times. When he’s not covering a vast array of singing styles – from the most larynx-ripping shriek to operatic cleans and throat-singing – the Hungarian spends his night busily pacing the stage wide-eyed casting incantations onto the crowd, his bandmates and backdrops (!) alike. A proper black metal frontman. The third and final part of this evening’s act has Mayhem dig into their earliest material; the infamous 1987 EP Deathcrush. With a banner change and another lighting theme – this time red to match the release – the rough and primal proto-black metal tracks receive another rapturous reaction. The band rip through this final four song section, with guitarists Ghul and the vampiric Teloch relentless hammering their instruments until the show ending ‘Pure Fucking Armageddon’.
After a quick thanks and farewell, Mayhem leave the Brisbane crowd baying for more. Perhaps it is a little disconcerting for Mayhem, that despite the quality of their recent output, it’s the last two sets that gets the biggest adulation – such is the duality of an active band with a couple of classics under their belts. Casting that aside, Mayhem are still airtight live, core members Necrobutcher and Hellhammer – despite being hidden behind his sprawling kit – have lost none of their energy and passion, while Atilla Csihar once again solidifies his position as the perfect vocalist to front this vastly influential group. Even a small, late-set fracas on the mezzanine level isn’t enough to damper the (evil) spirits on a very successful night for Mayhem and extreme metal fans.
Review by Andrew Kapper.
Photo Gallery by James Garrahy. Insta: @jdpunisherphotography
Please credit Wall of Sound and James Garrahy if you repost photos.
Mayhem Australian Tour 2023
with Ulcerate & Werewolves
Jan 22 @ Lions Arts Factory, Adelaide
Jan 24 @ Badlands, Perth*
*Werewolves not appearing / The Furor appearing
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