If Satan was watching the other nights proceedings, I think we can all can be safe in assuming he was one happy fallen angel. Mayhem and Watain co-headlined the show at the Rickshaw with support from Edmonton’s Revenge, bringing darkness in its purest form to Vancouver.
Revenge kicked off the dark proceedings with ferocity, acting as support for two of black metals most talked about bands. You would have thought they were top billing on the marquee with the sheer intensity they poured into their set but they were only a taste of what was to come. Keeping between song stage banter to a minimum, Revenge stood stoic and tore through their 45 minute set in front of a surprisingly (for an opening band) appreciative audience. I’m hoping to hear lots more about these guys in the future and seeing as they hail from Edmonton that seems highly likely.
Needing no announcement, you could tell Watain were up next thanks to the stink of death and decay that filled the venue in the minutes leading up to their performance. Severed goat head held high, Erik Danielsson (Watains vocalist) led the rest of the band onstage in a black processional, performing a ritual at the onstage altar we can only assume was to get the attention of the Lord Below before kicking into their high energy set. Corpse paint is one of those things that can really go wrong and end up looking silly if done incorrectly. This was not the case with Watain. They both looked and smelled like they had clawed their way up through 6 feet of earth before hitting the stage. I’ve always been one who likes a theatrical stage show and Watain delivers 110% in that regard. As if seeing the band tear through their won songs with the precision of a razor blade wasn’t enough, they brought tour mates Revenge back onstage to perform Ritual by Vancouver legends Blasphemy. Thankfully for those not in attendance, someone thought to capture this crushing performance on video (that I’ve included below because i’m such a nice guy). Between the singers Satanic mid-song rituals, the burning upside down crosses, the still-dripping blood severed goats head (that he at one point used to anoint some of the audience members with) this was the very definition of a theatrical show. This is exactly what the Christian Right imagines when they think of heavy metal. Wherever you fall on the spectrum of opinions of Watain (and there are many) it’s hard to deny they put their all into their performance and for this at least , deserve some respect.
Not much needs to be said about black metal progenitors Mayhem that hasn’t been said before. Love them or hate them, they came first and they still do it best. Despite the expected few d-bags roaming around claiming that they hadn’t been Mayhem since ’94 (shout out to the kid who couldn’t have been older than 20 who got up in my face about this), the audience was caught in a trance that didn’t let up until Attilla and co. left the stage. Even though it took them a few songs to find their groove, once they did the portal to hell Watain opened during their set that offered a glimpse into the nether realms was ripped open wide enough to let the legions of the damned truly march forth. Towards the end of the set it appeared they had some issues with one of the guitars but nary a blast beat was missed regardless. Truly the mark of a band who deserve their status as legends. Those who were lucky enough to be in attendance will remember this show for a long time.
All photos by Robin Goodfellow