Music

This is Mayhem

Black Metal, White Lies

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Norwegian media reported last month that one-time Mayhem bassist Varg "Count Grishnackh" Vikernes—also known for his one-man Burzum project—had been paroled from prison after serving almost 16 years of a 21-year sentence for his role in the murder of founding guitarist/vocalist Øystein "Euronymous" Aarseth and the arson of several churches.

His release coincides with Mayhem's first US tour in a decade. But like many of the musicians who have played on this notorious black metal band's recordings, he will not be making an appearance on our Hawthorne Boulevard. (Not that he'd be invited back into the band—or even allowed into our country.) In fact, only one of the band's founding members, bassist Jørn "Necrobutcher" Stubberud—notably absent from the band's most recent LP, 2007's Ordo Ad Chao—will play tonight.

Other fixtures who have left Mayhem (in one way or another): corpse-paint visionary Per Yngve "Dead" Ohlin, the vocalist originally pegged for landmark black-speed album De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas (suicide); singer Sven Erik "Maniac" Kristiansen (stage fright, cutting, alcoholism); and, Rune "Blasphemer" Eriksen, who wrote and played all guitar and bass on Ordo Ad Chao (presumed sanity).

So why, then, is this bastardized act now hawking the partially self-released Life Eternal EP, a five-song CD lifted from an early '90s De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas rough-mix demo tape? The effort varies slightly from its wolfish LP cousin, boasting only padded DVD-style packaging and Vikernes' newly pronounced bass patterns as a reason to downgrade. (His levels were long rumored to have been reduced on the LP out of respect for Aarseth's family because the album was released after the 1993 murder.)

Mayhem could not be reached for comment. And to be fair, Life Eternal also features the spectacularly fast, to-the-end-of-the-world-and-back drumming of Jan Axel "Hellhammer" Blomberg and the ghoulish, artful hell-belch of vocalist Attila Csihar (both in the Portland show's lineup), for which the LP is still unrivaled. What the EP doesn't feature is a true purpose.

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