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Dead's Finest Hour - 90%

TheEndIsNigh, July 17th, 2012

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.