Declaring War on the Underground
Mayhem, Aeternus and Red Harvest
at the Underworld, London, England
September 13th, 2000

by: Paul Schwarz
After visiting their set briefly and returning to the melee at the bar to search for fellow CoCer Pedro Azevedo, I caught back up with Red Harvest upon finding our long-suffering proof-reader checking out their set: he passed me by, and so, essentially, did Red Harvest. Not having picked up their well-received _Cold Dark Matter_ album [CoC #48], I was oblivious to how accurately they were reproducing their material, but I must say not only did I not "get" their set, I didn't particularly enjoy it either. An additional drumkit beefing up a few songs with multi-rhythmic work was the highlight of a rather monotonous and uninteresting set. Maybe Red Harvest just aren't a live band; I'll have to wait to hear _Cold Dark Matter_ to see, but suffice it to say that their performance didn't inspire my confidence.

Aeternus, on the other hand, I am quite familiar with, and tonight their impact was markedly better than when they supported Deicide in February 1999 [CoC #36]. The material from last year's _Shadows of Old_ [CoC #45] was certainly one of the reasons behind this. Combined with a beefy sound uncharacteristic of the underworld, it made parts of Aeternus' set sound more brutal and -death metal- than most Milwaukee/Koshick metal cannon fodder that calls itself death metal. With their talent for dynamics also punching through, Aeternus ripped through an impressive set composed mostly of the aforementioned latest album, along with a few older tracks.

A short while and a chat with Jason from Akercocke (their new album's due in February and looks to be pretty spectacular from the sample tracks I've heard) later, and Mayhem were onstage and beginning "A Grand Declaration of War". Guitars bit big chunks from my flesh, Hellhammer's deadly drum assault (though not matching Dave Suzuki of Vital Remains [CoC#48]) was puncturing my cranium... and Maniac was delivering the vocal proclamations of "The Lies Whereupon You Lay" like he'd just run a marathon. Maniac's vocals were dispassionate, lacking both pronouncement and dynamic punch. Mayhem played a very diverse set which time-warped its way through their various different eras all the way back to "Chainsaw Gutsfuck", and even beyond to the legendary (though apparently rubbish) 1984 debut demo's "Total Fucking Armageddon" title track. Mayhem were damn impressive in managing to sound like a different band as they shifted eras, reproducing _De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas_ in almost as authentic-sounding a manner as they did the likes of "A View From Nihil". Unfortunately, Maniac proved to be a constant weak link in an otherwise extremely cohesive chain, though it was only his reproduction of the latest album's spoken sections which were rubbish. Ultimately, Mayhem and Aeternus together made this worth my journey into town and the ringing in my ears which I suffered for the day and a half after, but Mayhem failed to live up to their considerable reputation.

(article submitted 20/11/2000)

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