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Volumes of Sin does not make it a habit to review, or post, any bootleg albums and material (so don't start sending us any), however with the notorious and disturbing past associated along with this one particular bootleg (along with the fact that it was released by the band themselves) makes it a genuine exception to the rule.
The album cover is an actual post-suicide photograph of Dead, who joined the band in 1988 as the vocalist, taken by guitarist Euronymous in 1991. Euronymous said that
"Dead killed himself because he lived only for the true black metal scene and lifestyle. It means black clothes, spikes, crosses and so on. Dead died for this cause and now I have declared war!"
Aside from the grisly, grim story behind the album art, this bootleg is noted to have "The True Mayhem line-up" which features Dead on vocals, Hellhammer on drums, Euronymous on guitar, and Necrobutcher on bass. Unfortunately, this line-up was never seen on any studio release, only the "Studio Tracks" demo tape and another live album released in 1993.
What should be blatantly obvious to most (this being a bootlegged live recording from a show in 1990 and all) is that the audio quality is going to, and does, suck. Even though the album was released in 1995, the amateur recording itself comes from a live performance in Sarpsborg, Norway 1990. The guitar is full of fuzz and high pitched distortion, the drums are sometimes overpowering, the bass is nothing but a muffled loud thumping, and the vocals have a tendency to get swallowed up amongst the chaos. But audio quality is not really something to be paying attention to when listening to a bootleg show, especially one done before such advanced technological equipment was available to the general public.
The track/set listing would've been about standard for the time and has all of the classic early Mayhem songs; "Funeral Fog", "Freezing Moon", "Pure Fucking Armageddon", and "Deathcrush". Hellhammer's drumming is relentless and aggressive. Euronymous' guitar parts are heard fairly clearly, but sometimes they just become a loud and unrecognizable clusterfuck of high pitched distortion and squealing. Dead's vocals really bring a haunting ambiance to the music with his raw emotions and the subtle eerie echos. One of the most notable lines in this bootleg is when he introduces "Freezing Moon".
"When it's cold, and when it's dark, the freezing moon will obsess you!!!"
At some points, you can even close your eyes and feel that you're at the show since nothing was edited out of the raw audio tape. The crowd can still be heard, between song tuning, song introductions, it is all here in greasy, raw, kvlt glory.
Poorly produced? No. Just a poor quality, raw audio tape of an incredible setlist and performance featuring the true Mayhem line-up that many kvltists and black metal fans around the world would die to see. Good luck finding it, however. Originally, these were only printed on LP vinyls and in a limited quantity of 500. Why only vinyl? A flyer promoting the album stated:
"This has only been released on LP only because this way you will see this brutal photo in full details!!"
- Villi Thorne