Pub date June 2, 2009
SectionMusicSectionMusic Features

PREVIEW Since 1984, Oslo’s favorite sons Mayhem have had a reasonable claim to the title of most fucked-up band on the planet, the eagerly repeated stories of the lurid spectacle that is their live show representing only some of the milder aspects of their mythos. Colorful history aside, the men of Mayhem have established themselves as architects of the modern black metal sound, taking the nasty musicianship and overt occultism of Venom and early Bathory and using them as the foundation for a terrifying new kind of metal that mixes breakneck drums, guttural riffs, and croaking vocals with eerie, understated melody. Often imitated, the 25-year veterans’ unique style is seldom matched in terms of sheer, unhinged intensity.

Co-headliners Marduk, one of countless bands to follow in Mayhem’s footsteps, spent the better part of its career becoming even more gruesome and unpalatable to mainstream audiences with each successive album, until it was not inconceivable to mention the satanic Swedes in the same breath as their more established tour mates. By the late 1990s, Marduk began branching out instrumentally, refining its musicianship while remaining true to the genre it helped pioneer.

The two black metal greats are supported by a diverse collection of bands taken from all corners of the extreme metal scene. Progressive, black metal-inspired Withered makes a logical opener, and the presence of dizzying grindcore virtuosos Cephalic Carnage is strange but welcome. Rounding out the bill is the brutal Cattle Decapitation, a consistent favorite among fans of uncompromising, technical death metal. Fans of life-affirming music would do well to avoid this show.

MAYHEM Wed/3, 6 p.m., $25–$30, all ages. DNA Lounge 375 11th St., SF. (415) 626-1409.