Black Mass Krakow 2004
posted on 6/2008 By:
I'm lucky enough to have always lived in a city big enough to draw metal shows, and that's something I've taken full advantage of over the course of my years as a metal fan. Despite this, I very, very rarely seek out live albums or live dvds -- probably a direct result of my being able to catch such events so often in the flesh, which, no matter how you slice it, is invariably more satisfying. In short, there better be something pretty bloody special about a particular show to get me to spend the bucks to hear it on cd or watch it on a dvd.
So, what constitutes a "bloody special show?" Well, big-time stage theatrics certainly helps: Live After Death (obviously), or any pre-1989 W.A.S.P., for example. Also, shows where you know you're gonna get some mind-blowing musical/vocal wizardry not presented on a studio album: Live Evil, Unleashed In the East and The Eagle Has Landed, et al. The bottom line is this: you don't wanna spend $25 on a dvd that does nothing but show a band calmly dicking around on stage whilst regurgitating studio albums note for note; you might as well spend that time watching softcore HBO skin-flicks, or something equally as unfulfilling.
Black Mass: Krakow 2004 hits on another element that has the capability of nudging me closer to my wallet: controversy. For those who don't remember (or possibly never even heard), this is the Gorgoroth show that caused Polish police and religious zealots to twist their panties into the most un-holiest of knots, essentially because of the band's "questionable" aesthetics and their rumored "extreme stage show." By the time the curtain fell on the stage in Krakow, Gorgoroth were slated for charges of violating (ahem) Article 196 of the Polish Penal Code (easily the most penicular of all their penal codes): "offending religious feelings." Offending - religious - feelings?!?! Wow and wow backwards -- THAT is an interesting penal code. And, to make matters worse, the band was also under the microscope for purportedly "violating animal rights." So there you go. That's controversy, folks. And that's the kind of thing that cooks up my curiosity enough to easily warrant my checking out this particular live dvd.
As it turns out, the hub-bub ain't really all that hub-bubworthy, if you ask me. As far as "offending religious feelings," it's just Gorgoroth being Gorgoroth. They're a band unquestionably devoted to bringing Satan into the lives of their fans, so there's nothing really new to us in that regard. They do, however, have some naked folks "crucified" on crosses with hoods over their heads, but you hardly get the feeling that these folks are being tortured; each cross has a little platform to stand on, and apart from having to peek at a dude's rig for the better part of the show, it's certainly not that painful to watch them as they stand on their respective perches. Hell, one of the gals even has some fairly bodacious hooters, but she actually ends up disappearing about halfway through the show (although I highly doubt she did so because her "religious feelings" were dampened).
And as far as "violating animal rights" is concerned, I suppose you could shit your pants if you happen to be the world's most devoted fan of lambs, but seriously, the amount of sheep heads piked at the front of the stage just screeeeeams dumpster-diving at all the local butcher shops to me. Still, it fits the mood of the evening quite nicely, and that's coming from a reviewer who counts himself more a fan of animals than humans by a long-stretch. It's just not something I find terribly offensive, that's all.
The band itself is just fine-and-dandy here. Nothing too explosive: two guitars jarring, King's often barely distinguishable bass, and some fairly handy drumming from everyone's favorite Peter Beste subject, Kvitrafn. And it's all delivered meanly and with a smidge of disheveled-ness to help keep things honest. Gaahl, who happens to be one of my current favorite black metal vocalists, is definitely on top of his game, but he sure-as-hell won't be taking home any awards for being a lively, personable front-man. He scrapes out his detestable screeching like a champ, and even sports moments where his deep, clean voice shines, but he never steps up and addresses the crowd. Not once. He basically howls, throws horns, and slowly picks out individuals to stare at menacingly. I guess it's safe to assume the man keeps in svelte shape not by his stage antics, but primarily by hauling unsuspecting foppish reporters up snowy, treacherous mountainsides - still one of the most golden Gaahl moments in recent memory.
In the end, I'd say my review-prep viewings of Black Mass: Krakow 2004 were enjoyable, but I'd still MUCH rather listen to the band's studio works, OR see them live in person. Yeah, the stage looked like the barbed-wired frontline of an army who hates sheep, but the band just didn't do enough on stage to make this dvd anything I'd consider to be essential. It'll sure make a nice backdrop for my next house party though...
1. "Procreating Satan" - Twilight of the Idols
2. "Forces of Satan Storms" - Twilight of the Idols
3. "Possessed (by Satan)" - Antichrist
4. "Bergtrollets Hevn" - Antichrist
5. "The Rite of Infernal Invocation" - Under the Sign of Hell
6. "Profetens Apenbaring" - Under the Sign of Hell
7. "Of Ice and Movement" - Twilight of the Idols
8. "Odeleggelse og Undergang" - Under the Sign of Hell
9. "Blood Stains the Circle" - Under the Sign of Hell
10. "Unchain My Heart!!!" - Incipit Satan
11. "Revelation of Doom" - Under the Sign of Hell
12. "Destroyer" - Destroyer
13. "Incipit Satan" - Incipit Satan
Bonus Material: Live in Leipzig, 2000 - Bootleg:
2. "Incipit Satan"
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Quantos Possunt Ad Satanitatem Trahunt
Under The Sign Of Hell (Reissue)
Ad Majorem Sathanas Gloriam
Twilight of the Idols