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I love Mayhem. I'm just gonna come out and say it, I love these guys, the true northern kings of grimness. But only for their earlier, more influential works, such as 'Deathcrush' or the soul-crushing classic 'De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas." The pure genius of this band lies in the grassroots uprising that was lead by Euronymous. From the infamous record shop Helvete to Euronymous' own record label Deathlike Silence, the path they took helped launch Mayhem into underground promince. Among their early releases, there lies a nearly unknown live account, displaying the band's true colors. Not only that, it's an excellent reminder of the legendary vocalist known simply as DEAD.
During his lifetime (which was undeniably short), Dead proved to the metal underground that not only was he a capable singer whose voice was so demonic and tortured that its only rival was Quorthon's voice from Bathory's self-titled debut, but was also a trailblazing showman. There are also accounts of the many props he had and gruesome actions the man did on stage: wrist cutting, breathing the fumes of a bird's corpse, and the proud display of rotting pig heads on wooden stakes. No joke. Dead was truly out there, and the fact that he was the first to use corpsepaint further proves that his influence is and forever will be unrivaled.
As Dead's screams rings through this recording, it's the other members of the band who excellently compliment the destructive force that Mayhem has become known for. Euronymous's guitar playing is destructive and hellish, his tone fitting the riffs with incredible precision. Hellhammer's drumming comes as a brutal and equally percussive assault. While the bass can only be heard through noise-canceling, professional headphones (in other words, it's nearly completely inaudible), the quality is, I think, surprisingly good... for a lo-fi live album.
The songs on this recording are even more evil-sounding than ever. Some are taken from the 'Deathcrush' ep while others will soon reappear on the mighty 'De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas'. The creation and execution of these songs are impossible to beat, given the youthful angst-ridden energy of Mayhem's earlier works. The riffs may be primitive, but even today they are performed and have become live staples of the band's later-era concerts.
There's no denying it, this album is a brilliant hellstorm of musical violence. With an amazing band in their rawest form and a legendary, unbeatable frontman at the helm, this is Mayhem at their finest. But all in all, this album is solely Dead's show. This is unquestionably his finest hour.
I'll forgo the story behind this album because you already know it, and if you've already heard the story, you might as well not listen to the album. The four years between the "Deathcrush" EP and this don't appear to have been spent practicing. Black metal is rough, there's raw black metal, there's drunken Venom cover bands, and there's a horrible performance that makes Venom's "At War With Satan" sound like Rush's "2112".
The studio versions of the "DMDS" songs are quite charming, delightfully rough but excellent in their own right. The "Deathcrush" songs were crushingly sloppy in performace and tone. These renditions are the worst thing that could be made of otherwise good songs. There's nothing here that would match up to the more famous recordings - the only thing that's really different rather than purely half-assed is the vocals. Dead has a crunchy, throaty croon that's pretty intense but incredibly monotonous. The timing of his vocals is downright awful at points, intentional or not. He even acknowledges that the audience are unenthusiastic, asking them "are you dead?" before starting "Carnage".
The drumming is considerably looser than "DMDS". The timing isn't too bad, but the volume of the drumming is really inconsistent, even for a distortion-soaked recording. At points it's painful how much one weaker every other kick is. At some of the more intense parts, the drumming overpowers the bass, which isn't really doing much anyway. The guitar work is atrocious - if Euronymous truly had this little control over his hands, this recording is evidence that he couldn't have wielded a weapon in a manner that might make Varg Vikernes think his life was in danger.
The one redeeming track is "Pure Fucking Armageddon", which is considerably tighter and downright vicious. Dead introduces it by screaming to the crowd quite charismatically, and the band seems to have tweaked it a bit from the EP version, slowing down the first riff to give it a bit more clarity while letting the excessive distortion rip. This one track is unlike the rest of the recording, it is superior to the studio version and certainly worth listening to, just don't expect the rest to be like it.
If I didn't know otherwise, I'd guess this was a drunken, sloppy Mayhem cover band. I don't think I've heard a cover worse than the first eight of these nine tracks.
Mayhem's "Live in Leipzig" is the famous 1993 release that is only one of three official release featuring late vocalist Per (or Pelle) Yngve Ohlin, better known to the metal world as Dead. Released by several companies over the years, the album is one of black metals's finest moments. But does it hold up?
First I'd like to discuss the quality and sound of the recording. Now with any black metal album, especially when it is of a Norwegian band, let us remember that distorted and low production where in. Rather it be because it is the way the album was intended to sound, or it ended up that way, is doubled with a live release. This is one of the better live albums from the time, however in between songs there is what sounds like somebody groaning. I do not know if this is a member of the band, the crowd, recorder, or just a random noise. As with any live release, the crowd is audible, but you won't notice it except for the time before the first song starts.
As far as sound goes outside of that mysterious groaning and the crowd, it's one of the better Mayhem release. Necrobutcher is the only instrument that you will have a hard time hearing, and this is due to the loudness of the drums, guitars, and vocals. However, you can hear him in the beginning of some songs and whenever the drums and guitars are not being played. Hellhammer, as I stated, is loud in this release and can be annoying at times when trying to pick out other aspects of the music. Other then that, it is some of his best, and I'd say it's better than his drumming on "De Mysteriis Dom Sathans." Euronymous is as always good. The way he can shriek out the riffs and especially the solo (notably on Freezing Moon) will send shivers down your spine. And how can I forget Pelle's contribution. As always, it's Dead. His vocals here are reminiscent of his time in Morbid, meaning that he sings in more of a death metal style than what's heard on the "Freezing Moon" lp. Now you can hate me all you want, but this is not Dead's finest hour. He performs very well and as always paints an atmospheric picture for the listener, but I just think he could have done better.
As for the track listing, it's the usual for this era. Five songs from "Deathcrush" and four from "De Mysteriis." This recording has my favorite version of Necrolust, as the guitar in the opening just makes me want to air guitar my heart out (yes, I know it's not very evil to do this. Forgive me). Other notable songs include Freezing Moon, Carnage, and Pure Fucking Armageddon, all of which literally live up to the name in this recording.
All in all, this is one of the best black metal albums and Mayhem albums you will ever hear. It does have its flaws (the main one being the droning sound and Necro being mute), it is still damn good. For any new fan of Mayhem, consider this your history lesson as you get the best of two great albums and all of the songs appear on numerous recordings. It is, as I said, one of few official releases that feature Pelle, and it is quite affordable to buy, so if you want to hear Dead, but this before any bootlegs or that album with that insipid photograph (but it's still a good album...well, the first part is). I suggest this to any metal fan, so go out an buy it my fellow evil doers.
Also because this is my first review here, please excuse if I did not write the album titles in proper grammar, as I'm having some difficulties with the tags.
It is true that there are very few legit recordings with Dead and his tenure with Mayhem, however I personally believe that Live in Leipzig, despite being a live recording, is one of the most impressive live albums I have heard from Mayhem and in black metal and allows its listeners to experience Dead at his very best.
One noticeable trait that I noticed is that some of the songs seemed slightly slower compared to the album releases, however this added a sort of doomy, atmospheric sound to it, especially with the intro to the song Necrolust (despite it being slightly slower compared to its studio counterpart - Euronymous certainly knows how to liven the songs up with his trademark guitar speed and complexity). The track Freezing Moon is one of the most well-known songs from Mayhem and it certainly lives up to its reputation on Live in Leipzig, starting with a slow, doomy-sounding intro, then moving into its guitar-shrieking mid-section. The song concludes with an amazing guitar solo by Euronymous and the reuse the the mid-section to wrap it up.
For the drumming, Hellhammer does an impressive job keeping up with the speed with each song while adding an extra amount of complexity, favoring the use of his double kick, his crash symbol, and his high hats for multiple blast beats. Necrobutcher's bass guitar playing is easily recognizable, especially with the inclusion of the distortion for songs like "Chainsaw Guts***" and "Freezing Moon", adding a huge amount of power to back up both the guitar and drumming. The guitar playing by Euronymous is a perfect example of how Mayhem can live up to their musical reputation both in the studio and on stage. Every song on this album does not disappoint and Euronymous makes sure of that when playing at high speeds with extreme complexity and heavy distortion. Dead's vocals are by far the most impressive trait on this album, especially the use of his raspy, screeching vocals filled with hate and darkness and after listening to the first few songs, it was easy to understand how his technique became the trademark vocal style for black metal.
This album is one of the most amazing releases by Mayhem and one of the most important in its old history. If you are a fan of Mayhem and black metal, this album is highly recommended. However, for those who are concerned with the quality of the record, have no worry because it is a live album after all.
As one of the earliest instances of a proper black metal live recording, it's only natural that Live in Leipzig has developed somewhat of a cult respect among the genre's audience. It's raw, punishing and honest, and it captures one of the most infamous bands of its type during what some consider their halcyon days, between the disgusting and excellent Deathcrush EP and the forthcoming full-length debut De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas. That is correct, Mayhem had a live disc out before even one proper album. But what's probably even more appealing to many is that this is one of the more satisfactory efforts to involve the band's early vocalist Dead, who among other things was a crucial component in bringing over the whole 'corpse paint' look to the newly coined black metal genre, before killing himself in '91.
I'll come right out and say that I've never been as much of a fan of Dead's voice as I have been of the sniveling Maniac or creepy Attila Csihar. It suits the music, especially this earlier material, but it's naught more than a grainy bark which often feels phoned in. It's quite 'everyman', in that I can't imagine an audience member being pulled out at random and not being able to match it. But that said, this is likely the appeal of the guy to so many fans of the band's vintage recordings. The other negative factor to Live in Leipzig is simply that the production is pretty cruddy. Yeah, it's totally authentic and sounds like a band pressing [RECORD] on the tape deck in their garage and basement. I understand the spirit behind it, and in no way is it the worst I've heard of its type, but throughout this whole album I felt like the riffs were taking a backseat to the drums and the vocals are often intolerably loud.
This can come across awkward when he's doing some lame inter-song stage banter and then the drums and guitars erupt, but there isn't really a lot happening in between tracks. Perhaps the most blood pumping intro is to "Pure Fucking Armageddon", which closes out the album. He at least seems to incite some reaction here. Another thing is that the guitar tone is pretty 'meh'. It definitely favors the slower material from the Deathcrush era to the later songs, where the faster flow of notes seems to be washed out by the drums, but it also rather sucks during the chug sequence of "Necrolust". However, this was November 1990 in a country not their own, so you sort of have to take what you can get. I can imagine that actually being there, with the severed pig heads, dirt and rotted chunks being hurled around would have proven more fulfilling.
As for track selection, you've got basically got the whole of the relevant, original material from the prior EP: "Deathcrush", "Necrolust", "Chainsaw Gutsfuck" and "Pure Fucking Armageddon" are all accounted for, in addition to the songs "Buried by Time and Dust", "Funeral Fog", "Pagan Fears", and "Freezing Moon" which would be included with the coming full-length. There's also a rare compilation track "Carnage" used in the set, and some versions also contain the studio version (and also a studio for "Freezing Moon" with Dead on vocals, if I'm not mistaken). At any rate, I've never come away from this album impressed. Like the band, and of course the track list was drawn from what must be their best material, but it sounds rather bland and I'm not that into the vocals. Live in Leipzig is loud, raucous and very 'real', but it's not one of the more compelling live records I've experienced.
It was a cold November night in 1990 when, arguably, the most influential band of the Norwegian Black Metal scene took the stage in Leipzig, Germany. For Dead, Euronymous, Necrobutcher and Hellhammer, it was, most likely, an ordinary night. Mayhem was at its creative peak, and in the midst of changing how Black Metal was perceived, yet none present were aware that they were taking part in a performance that would later be deemed legendary and of great significance. The show was captured on tape and bootlegged to the point where it came to the attention of Euronymous, himself. Following Dead's suicide, a deal was made with a small Italian label, Obscure Plasma Records, to release the performance as an official tribute to their former vocalist. And thus the Live in Leipzig album was given birth, in 1992.
My first experience with this record came several years back, in the days when such music was not so readily available. One could not just jump on the internet and find anything and everything within mere moments. It was late at night and I was listening to a college radio program. I called in to request some old Mayhem material that featured Dead on vocals, and was put off for a couple weeks. Finally, I spoke to the DJ and he was preparing to play some that night. I had to go out, but left a tape in the stereo and recorded the remainder of the show. When I returned, it was around two in the morning and the room was lit with only candles as the cassette recounted the tale of that night's program. The majority of the songs were rather mundane or things that I was already familiar with. However, as the live rendition of "Funeral Fog" began, I could feel something stirring within me. De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas was an album that I knew very well, yet to hear the song in such a raw and primal manner caused it to take on a new meaning. However, once Dead's vocals began to bleed forth from the speakers, the whole atmosphere of the room changed. The shadows that danced upon the walls, from the flickering of the candles, now seemed to move in an ominous rhythm. I knew in that instant that this man's death was a tragic waste of potential and left the Mayhem L.P. as a mere shadow of what it could have been.
Though he was in the band for nearly three and a half years, Dead's legacy lives on through various bootleg recordings of live shows and rehearsals, as well as the December Moon demo from his previous band, Morbid. The fact that only two studio tracks were ever recorded with this classic line-up is all the more disappointing. And yet therein lies the primary appeal of Live in Leipzig. This is the only official Mayhem release to feature Dead's versions of some of the songs that ended up on their debut L.P. What one finds upon listening to this is something quite different from the aforementioned Morbid demo. In a live setting, many of the subtle effects are not as practical, and what the listener is exposed to is the sound of a man possessed. From the opening moments of the record, as his voice cuts through the crowd noise, proclaiming "Only death is real", throughout the tracks from the 1987 Deathcrush demo and on to half of the songs from the upcoming De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas release, it is impossible to not feel the dark essence and force of evil that was conjured up by this otherworldly being. Regarding the old material, Maniac's efforts on the demo are completely destroyed and forgotten, though where Dead truly shines is on the new songs. As one that actually appreciates Attila's work on the studio album, it is still somewhat saddening to hear the potential that these songs once had, Dead had poured himself into these compositions and through his vision had the truly risen from the rotten graves. Without him, they are clearly lacking something. Few things match the ferocity heard in his voice on "Funeral Fog", or the morbid chill that runs up your spine as he introduces "Freezing Moon" with the haunting line:
"When it's cold... and when it's dark... the freezing moon can obsess you!"
One has to wonder how accurately this live performance reflects his true vision for these songs, as one would assume that the tactics that he employed on the December Moon demo would have played some part in the final recordings and that the extra rawness in his voice may simply have come from the necessities of the live setting.
As for the music, itself, there are some notable differences when compared to the proper versions of these songs. The Deathcrush material has been slowed down and takes a somewhat doomier approach. Perhaps this was just to give them less of an upbeat feel, or maybe to emphasize the vocals and give Dead a chance to really get into the songs without screaming to the extent that Maniac had done. While enjoyable, the older songs are really just filler when compared to the new stuff. Songs such as "Freezing Moon" and "Pagan Fears" just seem to flow much better, showing the growth that the band had experienced and the increased talent in songwriting. Due to the inability to record a proper album for so many years, the band lived and breathed these songs for quite some time and had plenty of opportunities to make changes as the years passed by. This is quite evident in the song that stands out as the highlight of the entire record, "Buried by Time and Dust".
"Many years had passed since the funeral... buried ages ago..."
The studio version contains some brilliant riffs during the middle section, yet what is found here is quite different. It sounds as if one of the riffs is still there, in a much cruder form, accompanied by something completely different from what made it to the album. In several interviews, Euronymous made mention of tossing out riffs that were not good enough and constantly working on the material to make it as dark and evil as it could possibly be. In this case, a great riff was tossed out, which makes these older versions of the song all the more valuable. During this particular riff, Dead's voice sounds more evil and possessed than at any other part of the record, and these brief moments stand as proof that utter genius was lost as this band began to fall apart. The atmosphere that is creating by this passage is difficult to describe, as something powerful reaches out of the dark and grips your heart. In those moments, you can feel the experience of crawling through six feet of rotten dirt and rising among the graves in the dead of night, under the full moon, consumed with some inhuman need for blood and death.
The various feelings that the listener is imbued with are all the more impressive when one takes into consideration the sound of the recording and the production values. This does not possess the crisp and cold sound that is present on the full-length, but the mix is not bad at all. Unlike the tracks that appeared on the "Projections of a Stained Mind" compilation, the drums do not dominate the sound and the guitar riffs are quite audible. There is a healthy balance between the two, which combine to provide the perfect backdrop for Dead's barbaric frenzy. In a sense, the overall sound here is very appropriate, as the rawness of the recording keeps alive the 80s spirit in which these songs had begun to be crafted, and offers a different perspective than the later versions. One can really feel the energy and passion that each member is playing with, as if the entire band is under the spell of the dark gods. The level of intensity stands in sharp contrast to the dull sounds of the crowd, probably caught completely by surprise at what they were witnessing.
From the iconic cover image to the classic songs and the legendary performance by a band that was in its prime, Live in Leipzig is a great example of what Black Metal is supposed to be about. It's raw and dirty and dripping with evil, yet not without its more epic and memorable moments as well. Don't be tempted to listen to the fools that tell you that this is merely a novelty item that should be checked out once or twice or simply purchased for its supposed cult value. This is the true representation of Mayhem and a view into the dark past of a band that was crucial for the development of Black Metal at a time when most of the old ones had gone silent or mutated into something unrecognizable. Seek this out at all costs and, if you already own it, don't let it sit on the shelf and collect dust. Put it in the stereo, turn the volume all the way up and allow the true essence of black purity wash over your pathetic spirit.
Written for http://ritesoftheblackmoon.tripod.com
Here it is, Live in Leipzig, one of the most kvlterally revered albums in the history of Black Metal. Opinion seems to waver between "immensely overrated" and simply "immense", but is it really any good? Does it deserve it's kvlt status?
Well, the performance itself is competent. They play the songs well enough, and it is live, so the odd fluff is expected, but the energy they play with is simply astonishing. You really do just want to band your head, it's simplistic, yet effective. Really fun to listen to, and makes you just want to go mental. "Necrolust" is a definite highlight for me. The setlist is fucking exquisite, really something special. Essentially, it's a greatest hits set of songs from the "unholy trinity" of Mayhem albums - Deathcrush, Pure Fucking Armageddon and the as-yet-unreleased De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas, and it's a tr00sters wet dream. None of the over-complicated stuff they seem to load their setlists with these days (When I went to see them, they only played Deathcrush and Freezing Moon off these three albums), and the songs they chose from these three albums are AMAZING. Not only does it have my three favourite songs from De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas ("Pagan Fears", "Funeral Fog" and "Freezing Moon"), but it has pretty much the whole Deathcrush EP included as well.
Everyone knows the real focal point of this album, though, is the vocal performance from Dead. He is a really good vocalist, and I absolutely love his vocals but... I prefer Attila's. On the Deathcrush-era stuff, Dead rips the songs up, doing a far better performance than Maniac ever could with the songs. His voice is so fucking powerful, but Attila's was more evil. Attila's voice genuinely fucking scares me to this day, his vocals on De Mysteriis were out of this fucking world and like nothing else in Black Metal, whereas Dead's is more of a generic Black Metal singer, but with more power. I love Dead's vocals but I still believe Attila is a better vocalist.
One thing I do like about this album is the production though, very fuzzy and raw. It's not polished in any way but still you can hear everything (vaguely) and it has a charm you don't usually get with live albums. Another thing I like about this album is that Mayhem have resisted the urge to edit it in any way possible. The only thing these guys have done to this recording is split the tracks, everything still there, from the fuck-ups, to the strange guy who keeps doing random death growls between EVERY song. It's all here and I appreciate that very much.
However, there's one thing that always annoys me about this is the fact that it's a CD. If there is ANY live performance on this earth which deserves to be on DVD, it is this one. They had fucking impaled pig's heads and Dead cut himself onstage, for fuck's sake! Not only this, but I want to see the crowd going crazy, with mental pits and stage diving, like at every gig. Now I know that the only reason they've done that is probably because there is no video available but it really annoys me that I can't watch this as well. Like "Unreal Estate" by Entombed, this really doesn't work as well as a CD AT ALL, it needs a DVD release to get it's full rating.
In summary, then, this is an essential buy. If you weren't already salivating at the prospect of the only official release featuring Dead on vocals (Bar that single), then you will be hooked by the fact that this is a fantastic recording, truly amazing. This is Mayhem at grassroots level, at it's rawest form, and Mayhem was always designed to be raw. Although maybe not their best album (De Mysteriis still edges it a little), this is possibly the definitive document of Mayhem, by far Mayhem's greatest live album, and utterly essential.
If we ever get a DVD, rest assured, the rating will be no less than 95%.
Picture this, if you would… you’re standing in a huge, black, room. Upon the stage there are pig heads on stakes, and a quartet of filthy Norweigan teenagers, struggling to get their piss-poor equipment set up for 40 minutes of the most brutal black metal you could expect to hear at the time. The ugly blonde one with a bunch of coal paint on his eyes steps up to the front and rasps “Only Death is REEEEEAL!” Then it begins.
I dunno what it is about low-fi black metal that seduces me and makes me forget what it is to appreciate recording quality, but it works. I can listen to this and see it all. Fuck the snare drum sounding like a piece of plywood on a brick, fuck the bass distorted to comedic-fuzz heights, fuck the guitar, being sloppily shredded, like a blind mans cheese, and fuck Dead and his vocals, that sound like a dying Alzheimer’s patient gasping for her final words as she departs this earth. None of these things matter.
The grimness. The shallow, hateful, rasping undertone. The brutal pounding, the nasty aura, the disgusting ambiance. These are what matter. You aren’t in a place where quality matters when you listen to this, you are in a place where all things black and filthy, all things that drip with distaste, disdain and despair, where all evil flourishes.
It’s called grimland, population… well, I dunno the exact figure. But they’re all wearing corpsepaint, that’s for fucking sure! And I vacation whenever I can.
This is the first, the gate. If you wanna see if someone who’s interested has the spirit to stomach the black metal genre, you need to make sure they hear this first. It’s the gateway, and if you can brave these gates, a whole new atmosphere is there for the sucking.
The quality sucks, sure, but the songs are there! They are there in raw, prime form. Deathcrush is slowed to an unnatural speed, frowned upon by many, but come on! It sounds magnificent this way. That is a song that can crawl, and like a mighty behemoth, crush all those who stumble into it’s sodden trail before it. Or something. Necrolust is always a step up from the Deathcrush version (I personally haven’t heard a version past or present that tops this one). This was even the first you heard of Funeral Fog, a song that was recorded for De Mysteriis… later on, in a perfect, grimey way. But here, on this record, it’s an abortion of sickly trance. It’s sloppy, but by god, the song is there and kickin.
Freezing Moon? You know, the one that we’ve all heard 15 different versions of? Yeah, this is the only one worth remembering. Carnage? Well… listen to Pure Fuckin Armageddon, and listen to Live in Leipzig… tell me which you’re more partial to.
Buried by Time and Dust… here’s about the only song that would move on to be reproduced in such a way to put this live version to shame. Not bad, just not as neatly polished, and Dead is not quite as suited for this delivery as Atilla was on De Mysteriis… Still, despite the imperfections (and, also, despite the fucked up buzz at the beginning and the dropped drumsticks in the middle), it’s a great incarnation of this track.
Pagan Fears is good. Yeah… Not really much to say there.
CHAINSAW GUTSFUCK! Now we’re down to fucking business, friends. Another one from Deathcrush, slowed to a crawl, and my god, it’s intense. It’s sonic earfucking on a whole new level. Dead, unlike every other singer to perform this song, actually gets the fucking lyrics right! Yeah, listen, he does it… what’re the fuckin odds? (Seriously, though, how fucking hard is it for Atilla/Maniac/Messiah/JoeBlackMetal to learn the lyrics to this song and not fuck them up live? Apparently very…) Crushing bass, precise drums, brilliant creeping lyrics, a song that plods along to a fitting climax.
“Come on! Leipzig! Join us!!! Pure… fucking… Armageddon!!!” and with that bold statement, we hear a closing to end all closings (get it? Cause it’s, liek, Armageddon, and, liek, theyre ending teh show?! Lololz) and as they thrash through the final notes, you are left to bring yourself out of an aural, cranial, dank, grim, ghoulswamp of trance-inducing headrape and crawl your way out of Grimland. Nice? I thought so.
Which reminds me, the only thing I regret, is that they never played Ghoul. But we can’t really hold that against them, now can we?
Live in Leipzig is one of those albums that has attained legendary status within the black metal community, and even within much of the wider metal community. Unfortunately, Live in Leipzig is mostly undeserving of the praise sent towards it, it’s the worst thing the Dead-era Mayhem put out by far, and is a mostly boring and dull album. We’ve all seen the “DEAD IS TOTALLY POSSESSED ON LIVE IN LEIPZIG ZOMG!!!” comments, and at times this is true, but for the most part, it simply is false.
Perhaps the most important aspect contributing to the lifelessness of Live in Leipzig is the crowd and band interaction. On very few live albums have I heard both the crowd and band have so little intensity and excitement. Everybody here is bored, including the band. It shows, the crowd is barely clapping between songs and Dead tries a number of times to provoke the crowd into action (Notably his introduction to “Carnage”, “ARE YOU DEAD? HUH?”). In turn, the band starts becoming lacklustre during a number of the songs on offer here. “Funeral Fog” in particular offers a somewhat hopeful beginning, before descending into mediocrity courtesy of Dead, his screams of “fuuuuuuuuuuuneral fog!” sounding weak and, to be frank, pathetic due to their delivery. If I want to hear Dead “possessed”, as so many people put it, I’ll go listen to Dawn of the Black Hearts or Live in Jessheim.
The rest of the band isn’t on top of their game as well. A number of drum and guitar parts are screwed up by Hellhammer and Euronymous respectively, which while by itself isn’t much of a bad thing, it DOES become bad when you’re playing “Deathcrush” or “Chainsaw Gutsfuck” at ¾ speed, resulting in any mistakes sticking out like a paintball on a white hat. While we’re on that subject, why the fuck did they play the aforementioned songs so slowly? “Deathcrush” sounds like shit and “Chainsaw Gutsfuck” is barely passable. The same line-up played the same songs on the same tour at regular speeds and sounded great; the versions on offer on Live in Leipzig are just shitting on the originals from the Deathcrush EP.
This album is often praised due to its “rawness.” It’s often recommended to new black metal listeners followed by such sentences as “…the sound may put you off though.” I’m sorry people, but you must be on some pretty heavy drugs because as Live in Leipzig is as clear as day. All the instruments are audible, from Euronymous’ frankly AWESOME guitar tone, to Necrobutcher’s guttural bass lines and Hellhammer’s pretty bad sounding drums (which are a bit too loud in my opinion). Another unfortunate thing that keeps this album from being anything worth your time is the fact that the recording is not raw, but poor. A number of glitches are present throughout the recording, most noticeably the huge screech from the microphone at the beginning of “Buried Time by Dust.” It’s disappointing to hear what is one of the better performances of this song ruined by a glitch stuffing up the intro.
The set-list itself is what is to be expected from a Mayhem show during the time period it was recorded in. Four songs from Deathcrush, Pure Fucking Armageddon’s “Carnage” makes one it’s many appearances (a live staple of Mayhem’s since their beginnings really) and the remaining four songs are taken from De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas, an album still in the writing stages when this show took place. Nothing really stands out here with the glaring exception of show closer “Pure Fucking Armageddon.” Somewhat of a rebel, the song jumps off the Mediocrity Train of Mediocre Mediocrity and becomes an unexpected standout performance. Indeed, this is one of THE finest performances of the song, where slowing the song back down to the speed it was played at on the original demo actually benefits it as that awesome riff at the beginning of the song is allowed to be heard and fully appreciated (anybody who denies the awesomeness of that riff should be shot).
Really, let’s look at Live in Leipzig critically. The band plays poorly, crowd and band interaction is virtually non-existent barring Dead’s last ditch attempt at the beginning of “Pure Fucking Armageddon” and the recording is littered with glitches and annoying sounds. “Deathcrush” got butchered here and the rest of the songs are not up to scratch (again, barring “Pure Fucking Armageddon). Live in Leipzig is a boring live album from a band and line-up that has made such brilliant material it leaves me speechless at times. If you’re looking for Dead at his best, go download Dawn of the Black Hearts, Live in Jessheim or Live in Zeitz, it’s just a damn shame the band chose to release the Leipzig show in its official form.
I don't really grasp why this is so revered. There's a point where incompetency is endearing or even respectable; some level of roughness around the edges or even outright drunken stupidity can be great at times. Incompetence being good, however, necessitates sufficient spirit and fervor to replace the absence of musical talent. 'Live In Leipzig' lacks both these qualities, so it's not even a sloppy yet forceful and raw look at early Mayhem; it's just Mayhem having a really off day live. It sounds like everyone was performing with a cold and for very little pay. Okay, Hellhammer seems to be sort of trying, but aside from him, no one even wants to be there. It's raw, yes; it's also mediocre and essentially pointless, except for lineup concerns.
'Live In Leipzig' is primarily worshiped due to being the only full-length recording featuring Dead, who, as this live LP will show you, is himself much more worshiped due to shotgun suicide than any particular skill in vocalization. He's not a quarter of the vocalist that Attila would be on the seminal 'De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas'; he's not even half of a decent, standard-issue black metal vocalist. He's sloppy and droning, both of which are accusations that could be leveled at Attila; however, Attila's theatrical style added to the atmosphere of Mayhem's later compositions. Dead does nothing but limply groan over the instruments. The real thing that kills his performance, though, is a lack of power. Imagine a basic black metal vocalist- say Magus Caligula of Dark Funeral- performing as usual, but never letting his volume or intensity rise above a moderate shout. Terrible idea, isn't it? Basic black metal vocals require some viscerality to them to be convincing. Dead lacks even this, so what you have is an already mediocre vocalist practically falling asleep during his performance. Nothing more needs to be said about him; the best thing that ever went through Dead's head was the buckshot.
The rest of the band fairs slightly less poorly, but it's still bad enough to kill the release. Every track is, as those reading this probably know, packed to the brim with instrumental errors; the most obvious is the mangling of Euronymous' solo in 'Freezing Moon', which is the auditory equivalent of swallowing a lemon whole. In fact, moments like this turn it into something approaching a comedy release; Euronymous' guitar coming unplugged on 'Freezing Moon', Hellhammer losing a drumstick on 'Pagan Fears', the weirdly uneven, undulating production throughout; it's pretty funny, in all honesty. Speaking of production, it's not as bad as you'd think it is (though it is still pretty bad); you can actually hear everything, including the bass if you pay close attention. But overall, it's very weak and does nothing to cloud the lackluster playing of everyone involved. Is this supposed to be grim and raw? I don't think constant errors in playing are very raw, myself, but perhaps others have different standards.
To the album's credit, the tracklisting is essentially a full catalog of Mayhem's brilliant tracks at the time; however, a decent set list just makes the subsequent musical abortion all the more hilarious and vaguely saddening. I wouldn't say that this is an entirely worthless release; it's of great historical importance as far as early black metal goes, and it's pretty amusing all around. But if someone actually tries to call this release essential and groundbreaking, please laugh and walk away. Think about it: this was originally a bootleg that was later made into an official release. This means that the members of Mayhem actually sat down, listened to Euronymous' guitar get unplugged, and said to themselves, "Yeah, yeah, this is the good stuff." And if that's not funny, I don't know what is.
First off let me say that for the circumstances, this is a wonderful album. Considering the fact that Mayhem didn't have the best sound equipment, the acoustics weren't so hot, and they had no intention of making this an official live album, Mayhem holds it together pretty well.
There are a few down sides, however. The guitar has so much reverb on it that you can barely hear the changing of chords, and when you can hear them, Euronymous misses some on a couple of the songs. The bass is so overdriven that at times it sounds like another 6-string guitar than a proper bass, and it is barely audible over the reverb.
The drums and vocals are spectacular, though. Even though Hellhammer loses his drumstick a few times and the drum beats aren't as loud as they should be, the drum parts on this album are some of the best Iv'e heard. There really aren't any words to describe the vocals. It seems like Dead had the ability to have demons possess him while performing. Tracks like "Freezing Moon" and "Pure Fucking Armageddon" show this very well.
Iv'e heard Dead perform much better vocals that on this album, though.
He was awesome during his days with Morbid and on the original studio cut of "Freezing Moon" on the CBR Compilation.
Overall, because it is the only official Mayhem release with the classic lineup,
any Mayhem fan should own it. But if outrageous guitar gain bothers you and your not big on Mayhem, it's not a must have.
How do you get an average album to be regarded as legendary? Simple. All you have to do is convince a band member to kill himself with a shotgun, make a necklace from pieces of his shattered skull (maybe get some rumors going about sampling some of the brain), then kill a second member with a knife. This is how Live in Leipzig, a terminally mediocre album, has been elevated to "classic" status in some circles. What really makes this album cult (or is it kvlt?) is that it is Mayhem's only "official" album with Dead on vocals -- I use quotes because it was in fact originally a bootleg that was later turned to an album. On to the review then.
The good thing here is the tracklisting. It has pretty much all of Mayhem's early mandatory songs. They logically kick off with Deathcrush and continue with the basics like Necrolust, Freezing Moon, Carnage, etc. No complaints in that department. The production, or lack thereof rather, is pathetic; however, I won't hold this against them since they probably didn't even plan on making it an official album, not to mention that we're talking about black metal here, so you can't really use poor production as an argument against the music. It is the performance of the band that really brings this album down. First and foremost, this sounds like a practice session. None of the band members are performing as well as they could. You want some examples of mistakes? Tune in to Carnage and listen to the riffs starting at 1:34 and you'll hear Euronymous missing some chords. Or go to Pagan Fears and listen at around 6:02. Hellhammer has apparently dropped a drumstick. I know that shit happens, and there is never a perfect performance by anyone, but here I feel like I am listening to some total amateurs. It's like somebody gathered some middle schoolers who were playing for the first time and handed them a piece of paper with tabs and lyrics and said, "Here, play this." Necrobutcher is practically absent. He could have been left out and nothing would have been different. As for Dead, he's not bad, but he definitely doesn't offer what you would expect from someone who is hailed as the greatest black metal vocalist ever by a fair share of kids (again, see shotgun to the head). In fact, he sounds better on some of those practice session bootlegs than he does on here. At least on those he sounds insane at times, whereas here he sounds almost like he's not even trying. Do this: see if you can find Out From the Dark (Dead's last rehearsal). Listen to Chainsaw Gutsfuck. Then, switch to the version on this album. In which one does he sound possessed? (Hint: it's not the one played here). Not to mention the instruments, in Out of the Dark it's like they're grinding away at some corpse, while here they're trying to not forget what song they're even playing. Finally, what's with the slowing down? Deathcrush, Chainsaw Gutsfuck, they're too fucking slow. Is Mayhem going for some groove here? That's not to say that slow is bad, if the song is meant to be played accordingly, but knowing what these songs are supposed to sound like I can say that's certainly not the case here.
All in all, it's not a terrible album. I think they did alright on Necrolust, Freezing Moon (by the way you gotta love the vocal introduction to that one), and Pure Fucking Armageddon. And if you like Mayhem, you will like this album too. It's a live act, it's raw, it has some great songs, and it's much better than Dawn of the Black Hearts (although the cover isn't). But given its legendary status, one has to question its merits a little more carefully. To me, a band played a random show, probably drunk, and made a recording. It's not a failure, but it is overrated.
This live album is the prime example of the "true" Mayhem in their heyday. Although they never recorded a studio album with the "classic" lineup, this live release, albeit very rough, shows the greatness of Mayhem's lineup during the early '90s. The album contains nine tracks of classic Mayhem, everything from the beginning (Pure Fucking Armageddon, Deathcrush) up to what would later become De Mysteriis classics (Funeral Fog, Freezing Moon).
Dead's vocals are second-to-none in terms of setting the mood for the music. His painful growls, combined with the rough atmosphere of the straight, raw live recording (no post-production or noise editing here), make this an amazing black metal listen. It isn't beautifully polished, it's like a live black metal album should be: raw and exactly as it was heard live.
This, however, brings criticism, even from me. In a couple songs it's apparent they haven't practiced enough, because several times Euronymous misses chords or Hellhammer misses beats. Each time they improvise and attempt to make it work (like any band playing live should) but it sort of ruins the mood and atmosphere created somewhat, especially if one is a musician himself or herself.
Despite these shortcomings, however, Live in Leipzig is an amazing bootleg turned live black metal album. If this album were polished, with Dead's vocals, it would be the ultimate Mayhem release. On its own it still stands as a raw black classic.
Live in Leipzig is one of Mayhems greatest albums as it holds the best members of the band displaying their natural talents and pleasure in performing live.
On the bottom line the sounds on this album is less than perfect in fact they could be dramatically improved but that would defeat the purpose of this album and of the band. On the subject of the poor recordings if you are not into muffled screams and guitars black metal really is not for you. If they were to take a KISS way out and edit the album I believe that the content would also be edited the sheer ambiance you feel when listening to it.
This album may be the best Thing Euronymous and Dead left for us. The muffled masterpiece we have actually puts us into the performance and what they were like live. When listening to it you feel like you are amongst the pig heads and various other dismembered body parts. Not to mention the fact that it is Dead and Euronymous at the lead... It makes it all the better... This album is like the turn from when Mayhem went from the greatest black metal band of all time to Cradle of Filth sell outs. Dead's vocals and stage antics tremble through the music and rip into you like nothing else.
Then of course there is Euronymous's guitars... It absolutely blows you away. Its powerful and completely raw. His guitar dictates through the album the ambiance of death and destruction. The talent of guitars Euronymous displays in this album is imitate and cascades to a new level just before its death.
Black metal to begin with is known to have poor production, so that might make you think that a live album from a black metal band would have very poor production. This is not the case though with this live album, it basically sounds as good as a studio album with live effects thrown in, like the crowd and more of an echo to the instruments and the vocals.
Dead is definetly an awesome vocalist, he rips through the songs with his menacing vocals and never lets up, I like him a bit better than attila, and for a live performance, his voice holds up incredibly well.
Some of the songs on this album are played a little sloppy, like in the beginning of 'Funeral Fog'. They may have messed up a few riffs, but it still sounds grim as fuck. Most of the songs they play on this cd are very good choices to play live. The highlights would be 'Deathcrush' and 'Freezing Moon'.
Freezing Moon will forever be one of the most bad ass black metal songs there is, and with Dead on vocals, it is just that much more powerful.
Hellhammer's drumming on this album is amazing as usual, he keeps up with the rest of the band very well, and luckily the drumming is well heard on this album, so you can hear it in all it's black metal glory. The Guitar playing is well done, and just a little sloppy at times, but for the speed these guys play at, it is to be a little expected. The Bass can be heard pretty easily and is simple, but also well played.
This is A great live album to have by this band, it's fairly well produced considering it is live black metal, and the selection of songs is good. Any fan of black metal would do well to pick this up.
Every time I listen to this, I remember more and more how much of a bad ass singer Dead was. This live recording shows Dead in his prime. Instead of taking the path of the generic black metal screams, Dead takes the guttural, vomit inducing, and gut churning growling. This style makes it much easier to try to decipher the lyrics without losing its kick and brutality on this live recording. It's debatable on whether or not Dead was the ultimate black metal singer - that’s up for each person to decide but personally I think he ranks high up there.
This is how a live album SHOULD sound - no editing, no dubbing, just live music. Although the drums sometimes dominate the music and make some instruments less audible, the music still stays on track and doesn't relent it's heavy and atmospheric assault. The bass isn't exactly out there, it's heavily distorted and fuzzy, but if you listen closely to the mix you can notice the pushy edge that it gives to the music. The guitar is meaty, heavy with slippery and slimy sounds to it. If you could turn the guitar sound into any material object it would be a piece of thick slime oozing down a clean wall.
Sure, there are some mess-ups here and there on some songs (tempo on "Deathcrush" for example) but that can be expected when any artist performs live. Generally, I don't think one would really be bothered by the mess-ups, most of them are very minor (tempo mistakes here and there, etc.) and the songs are still played in excellent fashion. Most of Mayhem's classic songs are played here and makes it worth your money to have an almost perfect set list for a Mayhem concert and listen to it live over and over again. The atmosphere of this live album is truly live and not messed around with. You can hear the crowd, feel the poor production, and such which makes a live album what it should be.
Such a shame that Dead went so early. Sadly, it should be expected that such a great vocalist was too good to last forever. Highly recommended if you are in any way, shape, or form, a fan of Mayhem.
Dead said this phrase right before "Carnage", to cheer up the audience a bit, that were somewhat undifferent to the band playing (they didn't know exactly what they were missing).
The sound is so live and so honest that it 's actually a bootleg made official. Direct soundboard recording, no bullshit overdubs, in the great tradition of REAL live recordings (see also "No Sleep 'till Hammersmith" and "Live in Viena '93"). The performance is marvelous, if you can get past all the technical flaws, fuck-ups and dissagreements (tempo and coordination speaking) on the playing.
Granted, this isn't the ultimate black metal recording, but it's pretty damn good, for what it is. It is one of the premier examples on how black metal should sound on a live environment: raw, perverse, raw (2 times), vicious, disgusting, raw (3 times). "Deathcrush", "Necrolust", "Buried by Time and Dust" are at their most menacing and sick. Dead's performance isn't the best, but he can scream his lungs out and does an honest effort to sing the classics, that should be enough for you. Even the bass is distorted as fuck and every instrument collide onto each other to form a huge whirlwind of sound. WWWHOOOSSHHHH!!! That's exactly how "Funeral Fog" sound here. If you can't take the RAW, then get your hands onto something else.
Highly recommended for those interested on the band Mayhem and real black metal in general. "Only Death is real". Yes, we all know. But, "Are you DEAD?" (with silly accentuation). Wow.