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Mayhem, Metal ,and Dark Rock

Being primarily a Blues and Classic Rock writer and Player, I often shock people when they scroll through my music collection.

I’ve always been a Metal Head. It’s been just the past few years I’ve collected and explored some music beyond the Norm. Norwegian Black Metal, additionally a renewed interest in Bands I heard in High School. Light your candle, it’s about to get dark in here.

Mercyful Fate/King Diamond

A high schoolmate who had returned to the States from Germany hit it off and as we spent time together we Listened to a lot of the same bands. He gradually turned me into a guy called “King Diamond”.

The King originated from the Band “Mercyful Fate” which was and still is a Beast of a band. A Danish heavy metal band from Copenhagen, formed in 1981 by vocalist King Diamond and guitarist Hank Shermann. 1983’s Melissa and 1984’s Don’t Break the Oath announced them as Leaders of a Movement you may consider the first wave of Black Metal

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They disbanded in 1985 due to creative musical differences but not before influencing a new generation of bands.

King Diamond did not falter in moving quickly with his own vision and began finding his feet with His First Album “Fatal Portrait” and then embraced the notion of being a Storyteller by essentially creating concept records. 1987’s “Abigail” and 88’s “Them” were instant Classics.

Both works were tied together in the stories of Madness and Family Ghosts.

Guitarists Andy LaRocque and Michael Denner, Helped The King turn great ideas into Dark Masterpieces. He continues to this day to not only make records in his own name but has Buried the hatchet and works with Mercyful Fate again. Long Live the King!

King Diamond: live in Eindhoven, NL 1986-04-20

Celtic Frost 

Celtic frost

I came to know of Celtic Frost at the same time I heard Slayer. I was Loaned “Reign in Blood” and Frost’s “To Mega Therion” (the band’s sophomore record). This was the time of the cassette and the trusty “Walkman” with headphones so you were not dragged to the Psychiatrist or a Priest by the Parental concern. Youthful exploration is not always understood.

Celtic Frost was Formed in 1981 as Hellhammer, the band became Celtic Frost in 1984 and released their debut, Morbid Tales, that year. This was followed by “To Mega Therion” (1985).

Thomas Gabriel Fischer – lead vocals, guitar (1984–1993) AKA Tom G. Warrior was an astounding player in the Genre. Not easy to pull off lead vocals while playing the bone-crushing riffs in changing time signatures. 

Celtic Frost has influenced a number of black metal, death metal, thrash metal, and standard heavy metal bands. The band Therion, for example, took its band name from the album To Mega Therion. Other bands that have cited Celtic Frost as an influence, or have covered Celtic Frost, including Anthrax, Obituary, Death, Benediction, Brutal Truth, Neurosis,  Cradle of Filth, Marduk, Dimmu Borgir, Sepultura, Cancer, Asphyx, Pro-Pain, Gorgoroth, Gallhammer, Paradise Lost, Evoken, Napalm Death, and many others. Kurt Cobain and Krist Novoselic from Nirvana were fans of Celtic Frost.

As with so many bands, line-up changes are enough to make your skull pop off. Ultimately players continued under the banner until 2008 when they officially laid the band to rest. Not before Leaving a great body of work and a huge scar on the Earth.

Celtic Frost To Megatherion 1985

Mayhem

Possibly the most intense band to ever unleash That which is Norwegian Black Metal is MAYHEM.  I discovered long before the Hollywood version of “Lords of Chaos” Biopic that Mayhem was Truly Brutal.

Mayhem

I like the Film, and its a statement that it’s based on “Truth and Lies” but an earlier documentary “Before the Light Takes Us”  tells the Truth of the movement. There is a foundation here and it was not Rebellion for Rebellion’s sake. 

One should recognize that same as Christianity was forced upon the Native Americans, it was done to Norway and the surrounding areas. The concept of hundreds of years of what was a Pagan-based culture seeing “Convert or Die” in the history book and the destruction of culture to build a McDonald’s Restaurant finally came to this group of young men. 

They took it upon themselves to not only say something through the music but DO something about it. 

Mayhem’s early career was highly controversial, primarily due to their notorious live performances, the 1991 suicide of vocalist Per Yngve Ohlin (“Dead”) and the 1993 murder of guitarist Øystein Aarseth (“Euronymous”) by former member Varg Vikernes (“Count Grishnackh”) of Burzum.  Gradually influenced by Varg, Members Murdered a Man and Burned Churches built on their original Pagan lands. 

 Øystein Aarseth was the visionary who not only built the Band, his own “Deathlike Silence” Label to Handle the band, and Varg’s Project “Burzum” business.

He also opened a Record store “Helvete” as a place for like-minded people to gather. It was also The Band’s Sanctuary for their “Black Circle” in the basement room.

Mayhem recorded its first EP, Deathcrush, in 1987, with a different vocalist. 1988 changed everything by bringing Per “Dead” Ohlin to the mic. 

Stian Johannsen who briefly took over as vocalist after Dead’s suicide made this statement about him:

“He [Dead] didn’t see himself as human; he saw himself as a creature from another world. He said he had many visions that his blood has frozen in his veins, that he was dead. That is the reason he took that name. He knew he would die.” 

The Corpse Paint, Burying his stage clothes in the earth to decay only to dig them up for the shows were just part of Dead’s Habits.

MAYHEM REHEARSAL 1988 WITH DEAD

Dead’s suicide came during the writing of their first proper album and a few live shows were recorded and Posthumously released. Including the infamous “Dawn of The Black Hearts” and its cover was a photo of the Suicide aftermath.

There are many unbelievably brutal facts that I could carry on with but I feel if you know the rest, well you know. If you Don’t you 1. Might not want to. 2. If you want to seek the full conclusion of the band’s Chapter I’ll Leave it to you to read, watch, and be Shocked.

No reason to spoil Intrigue.  If you like Extremes in Metal this is the Band, from The Guitar techniques to the overall Shock and awe, Mayhem never lacks in this Full Fury. The Band is still Going and performing at Massive Fests in 2021. Still Darker than Night. 

Necrobutcher – bass guitar (1984–1991, 1994–present)

Hellhammer – drums, percussion (1987–1993, 1994–present)

Attila Csihar – vocals (1992–1993, 2004–present)

Teloch – guitar (2011–present)

Ghul – guitar (2012–present

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Jimmy Flemming