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Interviews : “Welcome to our f**king dark ritual” – An interview with Attila Csihar (Mayhem)

By on January 4, 2018

Mayhem – Attila Csihar

There has never been a band as dark and sinister as Norway’s Mayhem, not just in terms of their music but also their past. Regarded as the pioneers of the Norwegian black metal sound, the band was and is one of the most influential in the scene, just as much as they were back in the 1980’s. Over three decades later, they continue to live up to their reputation of being one of the greatest black metal bands in the world, having survived the most difficult times. Their upcoming Australian tour is no ordinary one though; Mayhem will be performing their first full-length album ‘De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas’ in its entirety, one that was and is important for the band as well as for the metal scene as we know it. Recorded during a time where the band was facing many controversial occurrences,  the album remains an ode to the band’s past, previous members and is essentially an important part of history.  

Metal Obsession had the honour of chatting with vocalist Attila Csihar about coming back to Australia, what their first album means to him and much more. There was no doubt through that thick Hungarian accent, the excitement Csihar had in thinking about coming back to our country ” The last time we were there, it was for our 30th year anniversary. We played some really cool shows – that way Australia has always been very very cool and very good to us. I guess because we do not go there often, people always come to see us when we are there and they are so respectful. The fans are great, people are friendly, and fucking hell, that country is special. One thing I loved last time was I got to visit some nice places around Brisbane and see some exotic stuff.” ‘De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas’ is a monumental release and let’s just say, seeing the band perform this album live will be a once-in-a-lifetime experience.  “It is a very different atmosphere when we play our first album live. It is very special to us – not just because of its music but also because of the era it happened in, it’s surroundings and how the album was made. At the time, it inspired a lot of bands; people also say today – something that we could never have foreseen, but they say it was and is a milestone in the history of black metal. It’s important to the whole scene – it happened at a time when there was a lot of things going on with us.”

He also shared how different is playing this album in its entirety as opposed to a mixed setlist. ” In a normal Mayhem show, we play something from all the records which are good for us – some songs are complex, some are aggressive some are punky. It definitely keeps things interesting for us and for the fans. But with ‘De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas’, it’s like jumping time and space. The songs are mostly dark and now that we have the right line-up, we can do this well. We have a good chemistry in the band. Before it was not possible for various reasons – the music was composed with two guitars so it was important to have two guitarists which we have now, they are excellent. The album has a very ritualistic, dark stream behind it so it adds to the vibe and energy when we play live. It’s really good that even people who are not that much into Mayhem will listen to it and might like the songs.”

It is without a doubt that ‘De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas’ paved the way for a new and powerful genre of music, one that a lot of bands took influence from. Attila got nostalgic when remembering how he became a part of something that would change his life. “I am from Hungary and when I was invited to Mayhem, I lived there, and had a band called Tormentor. We played during the mid-80’s and got pretty famous in Hungary, playing extreme black thrash metal, but our album could never be released at the time because of all the political shit that was going on. But we had a full-length record in 1988, and that was copied on tapes and sent straight to Norway, Mayhem liked it so much. When they looked for a vocalist, they invited me. What made it even more special was the vocalist at the time Dead, really liked my vocals. The guitarist Euronymous was also very interested in my band Tormentor. So it was memorable for me.”

He went on to explain how important the album is to him as well as how it marked an evolution in the band’s music. “This album holds a lot of significance to me, personally, as well as to the band. I had heard their music before. I heard Deathcrush, in 1987 or something like that – it was cool and punky, really different and interesting. I did want to do it but I wasn’t shocked so to speak. Only when I heard the first demos for the new record, I couldn’t believe what I was hearing! Euronymous sent me the tapes for ‘Mysteriis’ and that’s when I was shocked! It was totally different to their EP, complex new riffs, the ultra-fast blast beats which were fucking insane – for music at that time, it was insane. Some of the riffs were in open chords and there was this slow motion in parts of the music too which was amazing. It got me even more excited.”

Inspired by the history lesson and the sheer passion with which he was talking about all of this, I expressed to him the awe in which I had the first time I saw Mayhem live – their extreme persona being so natural and almost hypnotic. It is who they are. ” Thank you for saying this, it is who we are. We are extreme – it’s about extreme emotion, extreme live feeling, hunger and anger for life. It’s like in the band also we are still, very extreme personalities. Everyone in the band has a strong personality – it still amazes me with each other – it’s not getting easier, sometimes its silly, sometimes it goes on edge. But more than a brotherhood. We depend on each other, love and respect each other, like a family. We always are completely honest and that translates on stage when we perform. We are ourselves. There is no leader. That doesn’t help. ”

When you are speaking with, someone who is, let’s just say, Metal royalty, your conversations tend to stray away from the set questions you have already and written out. I had already lost half of my questions due to technology being a pain in the arse, but grateful that it happened for I wouldn’t have listened to this wisdom that came my way. “My personal view in life is evolving – it is so important. Some guys like old stuff, being old school but I’m more futuristic. If it’s new and adding something in a cool way, then why not right?  I also think its very important to stick to your own fucking region. Whatever it is, instead of thinking about what people want to hear from you, you do what you want. When it comes to playing the show, that’s when you focus on your interaction with people but when you are creating, composing and thinking about the message you want to give, you never let the outer world influence you, never think about trends, what will sell etc. When you do that shit, you may get lucky and make it. But, if you’re honest and true to yourself, you will come through somehow. Things will happen for you and it will be seen in the music you play.”

Attila has one last message to the Australian fans ahead of Mayhem’s tour in January. ” Welcome to our fucking dark ritual. Let’s open it together. See you from the stage.”

Catch Mayhem perform ‘De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas’ in its entirety with special guests Bölzer, Ruins & Départe performing at:

Jan 16th – Perth, Capitol* (w/ Earth Rot, Ruins not performing)
Jan 17th – Melbourne, Max Watts
Jan 18th – Sydney, Max Watts
Jan 19th – Brisbane, The Triffid
Jan 21st – Hobart, Mona Foma** (Mayhem only)

Tickets on sale now via Soundworks Touring.


Prarthana is a vegan, Indo-Aussie, heavy music addict, fluent in sarcasm and metal. Traveling is an obsession as she enjoys taking in the history of various countries and following her favorite bands. She's either eating, teaching grammar or learning an instrument, when not occupied with windmilling in the faces of other humans.