Mayhem Saga – the 25th anniversary of the black metal history

When it comes down to such a specific genre as black metal, one name you will certainly hear being mentioned quite frequently is “Mayhem”. If you still have never heard this band or seen their performance, the 25th anniversary they are celebrating is the best time to find out what the fuzz is about this band and why it is mentioned so often.

The significance of Mayhem on the scene of metal

Mayhem is the most controversial band on the black metal scene. They gave birth to the next stage of the black metal scene during the second wave. Typically, the black metal scene was divided into so-called first wave and second wave.

The first wave is usually defined by such popular bands as Venom, Bathory and  Hellhammer while the second wave is what Mayhem started. These boys formed the band they called Mayhem in Oslo, Norway in 1984. The band is widely considered to be the parent of the black metal scene in Norway. The sound, the lyrical theme, typical corpse paint made as makeup, insane live performance and other early incidents altogether gave this band a razor sharp edge over others and spread out their gospel of black metal across the globe.

The early stage of the band

During their early years, the formation of the band consisted of vocalist Per Yngve Ohlin, aka Dead, guitarist Oystein Aarseth, aka Euronymous and Varg Vikernes, aka Count Grishnackh of Burzum. At the very beginning, during the so-called first period of the band, the bassist was Jorn Stubberud, aka Necrobutcher and drummer Kjetil Manheim. The song from the album “Mayhem with Mercy” is said to be the influence behind the name Mayhem.

The influence of the band

Their major influence is quite noticeable. It was such bands as Black Sabbath, Motorhead, Slayer, Bathory, Hell Hammer, Sodom, Destruction, Celtic Frost, Death, Kreator and others. In fact, Mayham was also known for covering songs from Motorhead, Venom and Black Sabbath.

They released their first EP from the Euronymous independent label called Posercorpse Music. The name of the EP is Deathcrush. This one brilliant album was created by the former bandmates of Mayham and was sold over 1000 copy on the fly. This album is still giving the raw sound of blood boiling youths  having good and heavy times.

In 1988, previous frontman Maniac and Manheim’s position was replaced by Swedish vocalist Per Yngve Ohlin known as Dead. Local drummer Jan Axel Blomberg (Hellhammer) also came to the band and Mayham set off with a new surprising scene with the Dead’s insane acts on and off the stage. Dead had known to wear the most noticeable corpse paint from the very beginning. The idea of his outstanding makeup was not just mere cool art but an attempt to make it look as a realistic appearance of a corpse. He would keep his stage outfits buried under the earth and wear them on the night of the performance, to bring his corpse out. Dead was also known for his insane acts such as cutting himself during the performance with sharp hunting knives and broken glass and any other sharp objects he liked.

To spice things up to the max, the band would often hang pig heads or sheep heads on stake and kept it upright right in front of the stage. You can imagine how grotesque and brutal were the experiments held during the shows of Mayham.

The members of Mayhem moved to an old wooden house in the forest somewhere distant in Oslo. They used that house to jam and party. Wherever Mayhem went there, there was always some sort of violence. They wrote their songs for the album, De Mystriis Dom Sathanas from that place.