Mayhem @ Durty Nellie's, Palatine (US)

MAYHEM / WATAIN / ROTTING CHRIST

Date: 20th November, 2015
Venue: Durty Nellie's
Ticket: $25/€24 (in advance) - $28/€26 (day of show)
Promoter: Kickstand Productions


The MAYHEM / WATAIN billing had already been successful in the US a few months ago, so adding more dates was a no-brainer. And to make the deal even sweeter (or blacker, if you prefer), Greece’s pride ROTTING CHRIST were added to this package, making this tour ideal for the upcoming winter – after all, Black Metal and bitter cold mix really well together. However, the winter storm hovering above our heads that Friday night made the one-hour drive hard but not impossible, so during the first peak of snowing and with temperatures below freezing, we lined up to enter Durty Nellie’s.

The high stage (one could watch the band from almost every spot inside the venue) and the nicely packed arena was most-welcomed antithesis from the snow-mess outside. It’s a fact; the US metalheads have a sweet tooth for all the blasphemous Black Metal bands and are very much intrigued by the visual aspect of a live show like that. At the same time, the lack of all those blasphemous stage-props (aside from some banners) before ROTTING CHRIST’s set did not raise the excitement, even though the intro of “666 (ΧΞΣ)” sent shivers down the spine of all those who have been following this band (listening Ancient Greek from the PAs had something to do with this). Yeah, “Kata To Daimona Eaytoy” is an impressive album and most probably the most complete ROTTING CHRIST LP, so getting the live treatment felt simply awesome. Like I said, there were no stage props for the Greeks but this was fully counterbalanced by the energy and the confidence of the lineup that took over the stage skipping the warming-up period. “Good evening Chicago, make some hell tonight” said Sakis and then let the music do the rest of the talking. What he told METAL KAOZ in the most recent interview (read it HERE) about ROTTING CHRIST being in the best form line was confirmed in all its grandeur. Visually, the band had symmetry and both bassist Vagelis Karzis and guitarist George Emmanuel gave 110% with lots of energy (and headbanging), so one could feel how this power surge was infecting the people behind the front rows.

After a simple introduction with Sakis simply saying “we are ROTTING CHRIST from Greece”, “P'unchaw Kachun-Tuta Kachun” speeded things up and showcased the form of Black Metal which is solely based on the music and not on all those add-ons most of the bands are using nowadays. Yeah, the fast snare-drumming, the ritualistic groove and the amazing guitar leads were more than enough to get more and more people engaged, so soon enough the Durty Nellie’s attendees made the venue look like a pit from Hell. Ok, the sound quality was not as good as I’d like (the riffs were a little bit buried), but man, the singing-along part was super addictive and made this a minor issue. “Five years have passed since the last time we were here. You are immortals, athanati este” said Sakis as a short intro to the amazing “Athanasti Este” which made it really hard for me to stand still and take some good photos. Moving out of the photo-pit, I had the chance to watch how ROTTING CHRIST were gaining the US audience song-by-song, playing faster and faster. “Kata To Daimona Eaytoy” and – of course – “The Sign Of Evil Existence” were some of the reasons for forming a nice mosh-pit in the center of the venue. “We love old-school Death / Thrash; do you? Let’s start a fucking pit over there” rhetorically asked Sakis before taking his foot of the breaks with the THOU ART LORD cover “Societas Satanas” during which I am sure I heard many voices joining into singing-along the chorus (how difficult is to scream ‘Satanas’ in a Black Metal concert?!). “In Yumen-Xibalba” ended this short trip-down the memory lane and before we knew it, “Noctis Era” dropped the curtain for ROTTING CHRIST with some grunting-along in the “300”-movie fashion. Damn, this was a really good but really short setlist, so hopefully it won’t take five more years for the Greeks to cross the Atlantic again. But this has a lot to do with how further will extend ROTTING CHRIST’s US fanbase because the long days of touring, no matter the cost, have sailed away.

ROTTING CHRIST setlist:

01. “666”
02. “P'unchaw Kachun-Tuta Kachun”
03. “Athanati Este”
04. “Kata To Daimona Eaytoy”
05. “The Sign Of Evil Existence”
06. Transform All Suffering Into Plagues”
07. “Societas Satanas”
08. “In Yumen-Xibalba”
09. “Noctis Era”

ROTTING CHRIST

Rotting Christ @ Durty Nellie's (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Rotting Christ @ Durty Nellie's (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Rotting Christ @ Durty Nellie's (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Rotting Christ @ Durty Nellie's (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Rotting Christ @ Durty Nellie's (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)
Rotting Christ @ Durty Nellie's (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Rotting Christ @ Durty Nellie's (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Rotting Christ @ Durty Nellie's (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Rotting Christ @ Durty Nellie's (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Rotting Christ @ Durty Nellie's (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)

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Like I said, the US metalheads are really fond of anything that looks blasphemous and provoking, so the two skeletons nailed to the crosses on stage left and right, and the pig heads did raise the excitement level (the animal heads did smell awful though). So yes, the front rows got a little bit more crowded and the headbanging festivities commenced right after the intro part of “Underneath The Cenotaph”. E. was at the center of the stage and also the center of attention having an additional spotlight that occasionally lighted up his face. Because the rest of the band was dipped in darkness having the stage-lights pointed at their backs and combined with the artificial smoke made it impossible to take decent photos. There was some short of an altar in front of the drum-kit with a horned human skull and several black candles which E. kept lit during the entire setlist. “Palatine, IL we are here tonight with two legends; ROTTING CHRIST and MAYHEM, said E. before “Black Flames March” which, to be honest, was not sounded as awesome as in the album. You see, this type of Black Metal requires the high quality sound because otherwise the several samples and the effects go unnoticed and in the worst cases come out as noise. It can be ok, if you know the songs but if you don’t, then it is kind of hard to follow what's going on. But there were lots of WATAIN fans inside Durty Nellie’s, so the occasionally muffled sound didn’t seem to bother anyone, especially when the band’s frontman spilled some fake blooded on the front rows during “Outlaw” and soon enough the crowd-surfing started whenever there was a break from moshing around. Despite the sound issue, WATAIN had the entire Black Metal package; from the low-lights, the stage-props and, on top of everything, E.’s theatrics made the whole experience most entertaining and locked the crowd’s attention.

“The next song is dedicated to the WATAIN legions” said the band’s frontman before the neck-snapping “Devil’s Blood” and I’m sure you can imagine what happened in the mosh-pit. During this one, E. got off stage and into the photo-pit and spilled more fake blood on the fans' face, something that increased the excitement even more. “This song is dedicated to those who came not only to watch us but also to participate to the show”, said the band’s frontman before taking a bow and this is how he introduced “Malfeitor” as the setlist closer. I don’t like to whine a lot but the awesome guitar leads during this one were kind of buried. Anyway, WATAIN left the stage aside from E. who stood in front of the DIY altar and under the taped “Requiem XIII”, he put out the candles and then bowed once more in front of the audience before following his bandmates. Aside from the over-loaded sound, the WATAIN set was pretty tight, even though all these theatrics kind of took away the intimacy of a Metal show and drew the attention from the music to the onstage happenings. But the main question that instantly hit my mind was: could MAYHEM be able to top this performance off?

WATAIN setlist:

01. “Underneath The Cenotaph”
02. “Black Flames March”
03. “Angelrape”
04. “Outlaw”
05. “The Golden Horns Of Darash”
06. “Sleepless Evil”
07. “On Horns Impaled”
08. “Devil's Blood”
09. “Legions Of The Black Light”
10. “Malfeitor”
11. “Requiem XIII”

WATAIN

Watain @ Durty Nellie's (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Watain @ Durty Nellie's (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Watain @ Durty Nellie's (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Watain @ Durty Nellie's (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Watain @ Durty Nellie's (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)
Watain @ Durty Nellie's (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Watain @ Durty Nellie's (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Watain @ Durty Nellie's (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Watain @ Durty Nellie's (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Watain @ Durty Nellie's (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)

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The nailed-to-the-cross skeletons and the pig heads were removed only to be replaced by a new set of pig heads and some inverted crosses with spikes. Yeah, we were about to be served by another dose of Scandinavian Black Metal taken off the golden and church-burning days. Ok, many things have gravely changed for that bewildered era and so has MAYHEM which are considered one of the major contributors in Norway’s Black Metal scene. If you do a short internet research, you will learn all about it and then some stories which I am sure were enriched by the storytellers’ mouth. Anyway, the stage was prepared pretty fast, considering that the entire drum-kit was removed, and around 10:30pm, the lights went out and the “Silvester Anfang” restored the '90s Black Metal aesthetics to the delight of the already anxious audience. “Funeral Fog” blasted its way through the PAs system which didn’t handle quite well the blast-beats and the chainsaw riffs. And that’s a shame because the riff on this one is super addictive and so is the change after the killer drum roll. The lights remained obscure and I think the stage was darker as compared to the WATAIN set, so you have to excuse me for the quality of the photos.

Attila was the center of attention wearing corpse-paint and the necessary blood that looked like he had eaten something raw. The rest of the band was lost in darkness and in times one could only see Necrobutcher’s clean of any-corpse-paint face. And that worked in favor of the otherwise stationary performance because the longtime MAYHEM member was probably the only one interacting with the audience, and judging by the reaction of those in the front rows, I’d say he did really good. He looked to be totally enjoying his time onstage and be just like one of the fans having a blast. Still, the overwhelmed sound did not do justice to the mid-tempo My Death” but still I was hoping things would eventually change.

Compared to E., Attila had less stage-props with just a noose and a lightning-shaped M metal thing-ie which he used to reflect the light coming from the only spotlight aiming towards his face. “Deathcrush” was taken from the blackest-days of MAYHEM (I know, some will say from the ‘genuine’ Black Metal era) and I think I am sure that Attila was singing through a human skull to give the eerie sound the original has. That was really cool to watch but I have to repeat myself and nag about the sound that was clearly not getting any better. I mean, there were times you could listen only to annoying buzzing just like when you crank the bass too high and you can only feel the suppressed air from the speakers... Yeah, I will be brutally honest and admit that this made me lose my initial interest and that was such a shame because MAYHEM are a huge part of Black Metal history.

Closer to the end of the set, the sound became slightly better and the last triple of blast-beat crushers “De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas”, “Carnage” and, of course, the curtain-dropper “Pure Fucking Armageddon” turned out pretty decent. However, the venue’s arena didn’t seem to be bothered by my sound issues, so the mosh-pit didn’t take many breaks and almost during the entire set there was a steady flow of bodies getting involved into the crowd-surfing activities. By the way, I think the venue’s security people handled the crowd pretty well, so there were not many over-heated moments.

If I was asked to put the band’s in a descending order according their performance, I’d say ROTTING CHRIST come first, then WATAIN and last, sadly MAYHEM. I mean, the Greeks did the most of the time given, stripped from any bells and whistles, and delivered their Black Metal/Thrash in the most raw form, sweating their arshes off to earn those who have never heard of ROTTING CHRIST. WATAIN delivered the goods with the appropriate theatrics, mixing music with the occult atmosphere the US metalheads love, and then MAYHEM were lost behind the overwhelmed PA system. In any case, this was an impressive billing and I hope we will get more of this and not only in small god-forsaken clubs.

MAYHEM setlist:

01. “Silvester Anfang”
02. “Funeral Fog”
03. “My Death”
04. “To Daimonion”
05. “Deathcrush”
06. “Illuminate Eliminate”
07. “Psywar”
08. “Life Eternal”
09. “Chainsaw Gutsfuck”
10. “Freezing Moon”
11. “De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas”
12. “Carnage”
13. “Pure Fucking Armageddon”

MAYHEM

Mayhem @ Durty Nellie's (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Mayhem @ Durty Nellie's (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Mayhem @ Durty Nellie's (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Mayhem @ Durty Nellie's (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Mayhem @ Durty Nellie's (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)
Mayhem @ Durty Nellie's (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Mayhem @ Durty Nellie's (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Mayhem @ Durty Nellie's (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Mayhem @ Durty Nellie's (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Mayhem @ Durty Nellie's (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)

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