Mayhem, Inquisition, And Black Anvil Round Two: Live At The Gramercy Theatre!! NYC – 2/19/17

How exactly does one expand on what happened during MAYHEM’S tour performing 1994’s album De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas? We covered their Philly gig earlier, and I was lucky to make it to their show at The Gramercy Theatre a couple of days later. Norwegian black metallers MAYHEM are known to be one of the most controversial bands out there. Their debut De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas alone took a long time to finally release, an album that has a tremendous impact on black metal for more reasons than many are aware.

Of course, there’s the corpse paint, and the assumption it was all based on satanism including the church burnings in the early nineties from former members. I don’t want to go into full detail in Dead’s suicide and the murder of Euronymous from Varg during the beginning of MAYHEM’S career. Nor expand on the reason behind the church burnings, having nothing to do with satanism and everything to do with Norwegian history. Let’s face it; there are enough books about this so it’s best to elaborate on the events that took place at The Gramercy Theatre on Sunday evening, February 19.

Death was the theme. There was this odd presence and energy that surrounded me. The blackness from the photos, and for those who didn’t cheat their way via a flash, would see the morbid atmosphere each band displayed and its deathly vibe. New York black metal thrashers BLACK ANVIL opened the evening in chaotic darkness. Their slow and somewhat vibrant set sparked the already crowded theatre’s attention. Fans guzzled their drinks, a few who proudly wore corpse paint on their faces raised their horns and intensely watched them shred while visually presenting themselves as rotted corpses.

Next up, a band many admire: black metallers INQUISITION featuring only two members Dagon (vocals/guitar) and Incubus (drums). The dim-lit stage had a streak of blood red amid the sea of darkness as they raised awareness that they aren’t going anywhere promoting their latest album Bloodshed Across the Empyrean Altar Beyond the Celestial Zenith. From my memory, I believe INQUISITION had an even longer set than MAYHEM and it didn’t bother anyone in the room. INQUISITION have a legendary status of their own and there were several long-time devotees there.

Finally, MAYHEM showed up faceless and in cloaks. Darkness and mist filled the air, leaving nothing but blackened silhouettes seen through the fog. Death was in the room, did we feel a presence from Dead himself or Euronymous? Possibly. At one point, I did see Necrobutcher’s face briefly, with his cloak removed from his face. Attila’s masked face was shown towards the end while he performed his skull and altar ritual. Looking closely, we might have seen a glimpse of Hellhammer on the drums.

Moving forward, while we hear the album going in order with songs, “Funeral Fog,” “Freezing Moon,” “Cursed in Eternity,” “Pagan Fears” etc., the artwork displayed in the background. During the revealing of this, I was seated in the back of the venue and for some reason I saw it as a church. The symbolism was unimaginable and a bit eerie to be honest. I wanted to see effects in the background burning the church. Now again, this has nothing to do with religion and I’m not a Satanist. However, I wanted to be reminded of their painful history. I wanted to feel their pain, rage, and hopelessness. This wasn’t a typical black metal show nor a standard MAYHEM show, there was something else going on that night.

When it  ended the moment the final track of the album “De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas,” completed I stepped out from the venue and somehow ran into a fan. And this fan told me his friend that bought tickets for that show died. When he told me this, the missing pieces to the puzzle glued together. The death vibe I was feeling along with being in an odd trance came from this man’s dead friend who purchased these tickets back on December 3 and died 20 days later, just before Christmas. The symbolism and connection was too strong to avoid and I dedicate this article and, if I could, I would dedicate the show to this man.


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