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Mayhem (NOR)

Mayhem is nothing short of an institution. The story of the most essential band in the history of black metal almost makes you forget that they have actually written some songs, too. Theirs is a long and bloody tale indeed: some of the former members exited this valley of tears by committing suicide, some others were knifed to death by their own fellow band mates. Without a moment of hesitation, it can be declared that the entire Norwegian black metal scene stands on the shoulders of Mayhem. They are the prime mover, an unholy icon whose influence on all things metal is considerably more extensive than their recording career.

In spite of their tumultuous past, Mayhem will, or should, be remembered also for their tunes. Their official debut album, De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas, is an unquestionable classic that still works as a black metal textbook for new bands. The then vocalist, Attila Csihar, joined Mayhem again in 2004, and the band gained new momentum after a few quieter years. In their current line-up, the bass guitar is tortured by one of the band's original members, Necrobutcher, and the drums are trashed by Hellhammer, perhaps the most respected drummer in black metal. Mayhem's latest album Ordo Ad Chao shows that their intensity hasn't lost an inch of its strength over the years.

The source of Mayhem's music is the heart of darkness itself, a place which you can visit but wouldn't like the idea of staying. Seeing them live is a downright extreme experience. Welcome to the temple of gloom.