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On an appropriately bleak and rainy night in Pittsburgh, hordes of heshers clad in black hoods, leather and corpse paint descended upon Mr. Smalls Theatre to bear witness to the legendary, Mayhem; a band that, given their history, has risen to near mythic status in the underground. Rounding out the tour is the mighty Immolation and New York black metallers known as Black Anvil.
A blood red fog and the smell of incense hung in the air as Black Anvil took the stage. I admittedly was the least familiar with Black Anvil before the show but as their choral intro faded and their opening song, On Forgotten Ways, began I knew I was about to be won over. Their sound is dynamic and their performance was tight and intense. If you aren’t familiar with this band you will want to get to know them.
Yonkers, New York death metal masters, Immolation took the stage next. Gone was the heavy fog and in its place was sheer brutality. Immolation ripped through their catalog in an hour that seemed to fly by. They came out swinging with “The Distorting Light” and “When the Jackals Come” from their latest release, Atonement, and never let up. The set was a blistering mix of new and old with a few tracks from their 1991 debut, Dawn of Possession sending the crowd of long time fans into a frenzy.
In near pitch black, what can only be described as the ambient sounds of hell filled the air along with a fog so thick and consuming that it would make Hammer Horror envious. Blue strobes flashed and faded, illuminating the stage and revealing the band’s hideous visage on their stage banner. As if appearing from thin air Necrobutcher, Hellhammer, Teloch and Ghul materialized before a rabid crowd and De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas was brought back to life before our eyes. Minutes later, Attila emerged from the fog much to the delight of screaming fans. Steeped in atmosphere, the performance was a testament to the band’s ability to endure and serves as a reminder as to why Mayhem is one of metal’s most important bands.