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Live At Leipzig - * * * 1/2
Come posercorpse and die again.
This album should be essential for any fan of black metal. Most people will direct you toward Mayhem's proper studio album, De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas,but for my money this is the better disc. First off, it is the only album to feature Mayhem's classic lineup, and the only Mayhem album with Dead on vocals. The lineup consists of Hellhammer on drums, Euronymous on guitar, and Varg Vikernes on bass, all three of them larger than life figures in the black metal scene playing in a band together at the creative high point of that scene's early years. These are like the goddamn Beatles of black metal, and this is the only album that they released together as a solid unit. By contrast, De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas had Vikernes' bass tracks scrubbed after he put a knife through Euronymous' head. The album is also plagued by the incompetent screeching of session vocalist Atilla, who took over vocal duties after Dead redecorated the walls of Mayhem's apartment with his brains. The largest flaw on the live album is the poor production quality, something most black metal fans should be used to anyway. As a live album it stands as a testament to what this scene once represented at its earliest inception. Black metal was a huge underground scene in Norway at the time, and its adherents were still burning down churches, wearing corpsepaint, and killing each other, rather than touring Europe and making lots of money. The sense of danger and rabid excitement is real and tangible on every track of this record. These people were for real and this was not a trend for them, it was a way of life. When Dead unleashes raw fury on a song like Pure Fucking Armageddon, you can tell he was feeling every word of it. Euronymous for his part plays distortion drenched power chords which just simply sound fucking evil. Hellhammer, the best drummer in Norway, brutalizes every inch of his drum kit with the fury of a pissed off Viking warlord on an amphetamine rage, playing one constant blastbeat, occasionally locking onto a groove and relentlessly beating it into the ground. The crowd reaction is chaotic and violent. The message is clear, black metal is not something to be taken lightly, Mayhem hates you and they are coming to destroy you. Live At Leipzig gets three and a half stars because it is not a pleasant record to listen to and people who aren't familiar with black metal probably won't appreciate it. It is dirty, evil, and fucking brutal, just the way black metal should be.
* * * 1/2
Reviewed: April, 2003
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