When they weren’t busy burning churches or killing each other these crazy kids from Norway found time to be a band. Not just any band, this is Mayhem, pioneers of black metal. Influenced by Venom, Bathory, Slayer, and the like, Mayhem set out to be harder and scarier than any band that came before. This CD, Live at Leipzig, serves as a snapshot of what they were at the time. It is aggressive and raw. It is also supposedly one of the only recordings that has Dead, Euronymous, and Count Grisnackh (Varg Vikerness) all playing on it.
Live at Leipzig is to black metal what the Stooges’ Raw Power is to punk. It captures the unfiltered essence of the genre. The musicianship is loose. The guitars are in the red and the vocals are high wails and rough snarls. With songs like “Chainsaw Gutsf***”, there is no easy listening here. In this live format the track “Pure F***ing Armageddon” lives up to it’s name.
Is Live at Leipzig a good CD? Well… I can’t dance to it. It scares the hell out of my girlfriend and my pets. Musically, lyrically, and in overall production it is creepy and appalling. However, black metal is supposed to be creepy and appalling. Black metal taps into anger, aggression, and violent fantasy. Here Mayhem succeed. They did exactly what they set out to do, they are harder and scarier than all of their influences. It must be difficult having a career where you constantly submerge yourself in anger and violence because, unfortunately, this line-up of Mayhem didn’t survive very long past this recording. The handful of early Mayhem recordings laid the groundwork for all subsequent black metal bands. If you are interested in the genre and can stomach the violence and occult imagery than I recommend Live at Leipzig.