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prometeus, January 20th, 2019

This review is a form of protest of this release. The first band I heard and found that it was cashing in on bootlegs was Metallica, and I don't understand why a very poorly recorded and mixed bootleg from 1990 should be re-released as an official one, after the 1995 one. Even on YouTube, someone can find the music and the video recording hear it free. Another issue I have with this is cashing in on the deaths of Dead and Euronymous. For fuck's sake, leave the bygones be bygones and just release fresh content, instead of milking the past!

Now, since this a music review, let us see why someone should buy this, besides the emotional blackmail concerning the fascination with the bipolar suicidal Dead and the megalomaniac sadistic Euronymous. Imagine that you never heard the superior Mediolanum Capta Est, De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas live album or the mediocre Live in Leipzig, but you know that this band basically created and shaped the Norwegian Black Metal scene and also contributed much to what was called the Second Wave of Black Metal. Again, leave the Dead and Euronymous tragedies aside. The first thing you will notice is the shitty recording, which makes everything sound blurry, at best. You will not find much aggression, atmosphere, darkness or melancholy at the first few listens. Then, you cannot evaluate properly the band performances, although Euronymous was a shitty lead guitarist back in 1990, not practicing his solos enough. Dead was ok, like a more atmospheric version of Quorthon from Bathory, playing the newer songs quite well, while not being very compatible with the earlier material. He was quite rigid, but when used properly, he would dominate.

I will not comment much on the set list, since it has almost all the band's catalog by 1990, except for a few tracks. If you would want to compare this release with other live ones, this has nothing new to offer. Maybe the introductions of the songs by Dead sound better (check the Freezing Moon intro), but it is excessively little to throw money away. Of course, do so, if you want beer coasters, but better look for Live in Leipzig instead, or just a live release with the other two most important vocalists Mayhem had, if you value music over the drama behind it. In addition, support the band for the content it created, not for the cash grabs based on emotional blackmails and dramas!

This record seriously lacks brains. - 5%

droneriot, December 15th, 2018

You might perhaps have heard the story that in 1991, Mayhem's then-singer Dead committed suicide. It made some waves, you may have heard about it. His least favourite person in the world and band leader Euronymous found his corpse, wrists slashed and brains blown out with a shotgun. So, besides more esoteric stories such as cooking a stew from the brains and collecting skull pieces for necklaces, Euronymous decided the most logical course of action to take in that situation would be to take some pictures of the scene. And to not let those pictures go to waste, he'd send it to all his snail mail underground metal friends around the world. He was a sharing guy like that. He also liked to send tapes of various Mayhem live performances to those pen pals of his, because it's 1991, there's no internet but you know guys from the most obscure black or death metal bands ever around the planet, you gotta enjoy the whole thing and share the experience.

So one of those guys Euronymous knew was Bull Metal, then drummer of Masacre and Agressor, among even more obscure acts. And Bull Metal, no fool himself, looked at his received items, his tape of a Mayhem live recording, his photo of the dead Mayhem singer and after what I assume was some deep and thoughtful reflection, he added two and two together and said, hey, I should put those things together! Put the tape on CD, use the photo as a cover. And thus, the Dawn of the Black Hearts bootleg was born, one so infinitely tasteless and brilliant in equal manner that it remains infamous to this day. Bull Metal of course himself committed suicide a bit over a decade later and was found dead in his apartment, and in a cruel turn of events, no pictures were taken.

Fast forward to the year 2017, and I guess the rights to said tape of that live show Mayhem played in Sarpsborg, Norway in 1990 that made that most infamous bootleg ever somehow must have made it into the hands of Peaceville Records. And Peaceville really knew people loved Dawn of the Black Hearts. Because it's like the ultimate infamous bootleg ever. Something I think must have gone really slow on the brain side of things at Peaceville though, because I'm imagining it as a conversation between various label goons on how that bootleg got so famous and there was some back and forth between people trying to figure out the success story and why people went crazy for the record and traded it for insane prices at Discogs and eBay and whatnot, and somehow they arrived at the conclusion that it must be because of the amazing music it contained.

Okay. Peaceville... that's not how it happened. That's not the reason. People love Live in Leipzig because it's a really great live record with Dead on vocals. It has lots of fuck-ups but it has a strong, sharp sound and just gets across the atmosphere of a Mayhem live show with Dead really well. The bootleg of the Sarpsborg show, that's a really, really, seriously bad version of that. The sound is horrendous, there's too much of a mess for much of an atmosphere, and it really just sucks. I don't know why this would even have to be explained, unless you lived under some kind of very well-insulating rock that kept you from the rest of the going-ons of the planet really well, but no one ever was into Dawn of the Black Hearts for the music. That's just not how the record got its infamy, that's just not how it trades for insane sums, that's not what it was ever about.

Yeah Mayhem was a cool band, they had cool songs, but people craving their cool music got and get their fix from far superior recordings. With any line-up. The Sarpsborg live recording is just fucking terrible, and everybody knows that. People bought the bootleg because of the front cover and nothing else, and still buy it for ridiculous second-hand prices to this day. Putting out a new version of the same godawful recording with the most boring cover ever, you really think there's any point to that? What's your next trick, a Black Sabbath best of with all their interlude songs like "Fluff" or "Laguna Sunrise"? There's just no one fucking interested in that, and the same with this pointless castrated Dawn of the Black Hearts reissue missing the one thing that people bought Dawn of the Black Hearts for.

Really, if you want to cash in on a band's legacy then at least put some kind of thought into whether anyone might actually be interested in the cash-in you put out. This Peaceville brainfart isn't good for anything except I guess some "how to fail at running at business"-motivational speaker thing.

As nature intended - 95%

lamb666, November 28th, 2017
Written based on this version: 2017, 12" vinyl, Peaceville Records (Limited edition, Clear vinyl)

So the most bootlegged album in the history of metal finally gets an official release. I am not going to make this review about the cover. Suffice to say I prefer the image of Necrobutcher on the front to the image of a deceased black metal legend. It does miss the additional tracks that were present of most of the bootleg versions. In the context of this release it just shows the live tracks the respect they undoubtedly deserve.

The tracks on offer here are more or less the standard set list for Mayhem at this time. As bootlegs go the audio is sufficiently good that I can enjoy the record without any persistent irritation. I consider this one of the best versions of these live tracks available. The band sound viscous and at the top of their game. A perfectly captured moment in time. Having collected all four of the recent live reissues I can safely say this rates very highly among them. All are taken from the best audio source available and ramped up to sound as best they can.

Although I have spent most of this week listening to Mayhem bootlegs this one is truly special. A new perspective on tracks that I have heard many times. Necrolust in particular sounds filthier than usual. The quality throughout is such that one can get lost in Euronymous's exquisite guitar work. Necrobutcher and Hellhammer both play the performance of their lives and of course Dead's other-worldly vocals round that true Mayhem sound off perfectly.

This LP captures Mayhem as they wanted to sound at the time. This release can hold its own with any other Mayhem recording from this era. An absolute must for any black metal fan with even the slightest interest in the beginning of the second wave of black metal. A triumphant display of black metal from the true masters.