Black Metal Warfare January 15, 2015 was definitely a night of anticipation from the announcement of such an epic line up; Canada’s Revenge, Swedish master’s Watain, and the unrivaled legendary Mayhem, to the mid-winter door delay. About an hour later than expected, the doors finally opened to the frostbit, but diverse Cleveland metal crowd. Admittedly, one of my favorite parts of going to a black metal show is seeing the confident few that come out in their corpse paint and of course Cleveland didn’t disappoint this nomadic concert attendee.
Revenge may not sport my beloved corpse paint, but they are some of the most brutal and intense black metal you can find. This three-piece act came out and destroyed. James Read’s vocals are gut wrenching and relentless. Even though it was a short 40 minute set, it had all the energy and intensity to prepare everyone for the night’s dual headliners.
Up to hit the stage next, Swedish masters and sworn to the dark, Watain. From start to finish their live performance was a perfect blend of musical savagery and spiritual ceremony. As the smoke-filled the venue the music grew in ferocity, and the crowd became more and more viscous. Opening with Death’s Cold Dark to flow into the recent track Black Flames March; the set included a mix of old and new. Outlaw and Sworn To The Dark were definitely standout tracks that I am going to assume were the cause for copious amounts of blood in the photographer’s pit. Each member of Watain has a unique visual draw and presence on stage, but Daniel is absolutely mesmerizing to behold and was the quintessential frontman for their display.
On one hand, Watain’s set was atmospheric, but Mayhem came at us with pure black metal brutality with the true weight of history. With a simplified stage presence, they were truly there to provide a musical assault. Only Teloch and Attila Csihar, being his truly theatrical self, got dressed up for the affair. I will openly admit that I had a bit of a fan-girl moment when Hellhammer came out on stage first to greet the crowd. He truly is metal drumming perfection with a level of intensity, brutality, and absolute precision that cuts right through you.
The set was seamless with little interaction or distraction which maintained momentum and high energy within the Agora Theatre. Even though this tour is in support of their recent release Esoteric Warfare they opened and closed the evening with true classics Deathcrush and Pure Fucking Armageddon. Incorporating, almost half the Deathcrush album and key tracks from De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas all the long-time die-hard fans were satisfied and every person in that crowd was provided with a true black metal music experience.