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Bordeaux, France @ Rock School Barbey, Sunday December 16th 2007

by Hubert Chapuis

One of the real black metal legends is coming this evening to Bordeaux. The crowd is unusually abundant and people are really coming from far away sometimes (Spain).

The amount of bands is pretty resctricted though for the opening; Only two indeed: Peste Noire from Avignon, France and Pantheon I from Norway. The first one has to deal with the difficult task to warm everyone up despite the norvegian cold outside. Itís a difficult task and actually maybe too difficult for this young french band. They try to play some atmospheric black metal pretty much like the very famous local band Seth but the thing is that despite this clear influence, Peste Noire music is not so interesting. It sounds really empty sometimes with only some kind of melodic guitar breaks (moreover not always very well played). Definitely the band is not so mature and they deserve to practice a lot to come back later and try their chance a second time.

Then comes Patheon I that I really didnít know anything about before. First thing: a cellist (really gorgeous woman by the way... And banging her head like crazy!) is part of the band and I guess everyone in the venue is pretty curious at that time to know how that stuff was going to sound. What we can say in a first place is that the whole thing really deals with raw extreme metal eventually. Itís not easy to notice any real contribution from the cello. Sometimes it can be interesting though, sounding like something in between a guitar (with distortion) and keyboards (playing long notes). Besides, the band is basically very efficient. The musicians are really doing well with already an experimented behaviour on stage and a pretty good technical mastering especially for the guitar parts.

Pantheon I is playing during approximately 45 minutes and then, it is time to welcome their compatriots of Mayhem. Tonight we have vegetables for dinner: especially carrots. Thatís indeed the main surprise of the show. Attila is the last one to arrive on stage in a... Rabbit suit (!) while the first famous Deathcrush chords start to get out from the amplifiers. Attila is holding all that he bought at the market before the show and is finally throwing the whole thing everywhere around. Deathcrush is the perfect song for that since itís really fucked up with its almost grindcore spirit. The end of the song is really fast as hell: to say the truth itís even too fast since the musicians donít play together anymore. But thatís just the warm up and this will never happen again in the rest of the show. Everyone in the crowd was a bit scared though when a stupid kid managed to climb on the stage to remove Attilaís mask. This one got really pissed off, kicked the kid and immediately left the stage. The band just stayed there a moment wondering what to do. And then they decided to start playing Ancient Skin to make Attila come back. But he really came back late in the song with his mask on again.

Musically speaking this song (one of my favorite ones from the band) stresses the real beginning of the show with a really catchy atmosphere and a perfect technical level. Hellhammer is as fast as usual with drum parts much cleaner than what they were sometimes in the past. Blasphemer is really amazing as well: his songsí interpretation can be fully modified sometimes compared to studio versions, with really interesting right hand moves, and here again fast and pure execution. What I will never forget from this show is first the Freezing Moon we get tonight: a completely different guitar solo full of harmonics and so cleanly done. But the feeling of the whole song is also unbelieveable: this is the moment I enjoyed the most tonight.

But I also have to say that Ordo Ad Chao really rules live. Itís definitely an insane album according to me and the rythm changes on stage are very interesting. I especially enjoy Anti and its unhuman growl break. Even songs from Grand Declaration of War are pretty efficient: View from Nihil for instance.

Eventually, except Attilaís disguise, I was really happy to attend a really serious show, every musician of Mayhem doing really their best I think. This contrasted a bit with the last time I saw Mayhem on stage (2006 Metal Therapy fest in France) where I had the feeling that the band didnít give everything. Tonight this lack of involvement was gone and I think youíll have to count on Mayhem for the future!

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