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LIVE CONCERTS - The Year In Review (Part IV)

Written by: Mark McQueen

In 2022 the concert circuit really came back full scale. There were shows aplenty and Metal (of all types) to be seen and listened to. Your author Mark McQueen aka “The Beard” along with his sidekick, the irrepressible, “Little Johnny” got to see and review 49 shows and 218 live sets of music this year. Over the next four weeks, we will share with you our top 20% of all these live sets. You can peruse our guidelines and disclaimers in part one of this series.

We now present the final installment of our series


BANDS 11-1

As ranked by The Beard

#11 DAMIEN from April 9th at The Blades of Steel Festival Milwaukee 95.2/100

The most unknown band to make this list in 2022 is likely Damien. A power metal band from Ohio. Their heyday was the early 1980’s (making them prime material for an RK Metal festival). Randy Kastner always finds the best, (if not forgotten at least out of the spotlight), bands that can still pack a sizable punch. Damien was one of those bands. They took my “Best of the Fest” award at Blades of Steel, and here they are on the most elite list of the year. The Beards top 11 of 2022.

#10 NERVOSA from May 6th at Reggie’s in Chicago 95.4/100

My 3rd time seeing the death metal supermodels from Brazil. The first two times featured original members Fernanda Lira on bass/vocals and Luana Dametto on drums (along with the amazing Prika Amaral on guitar). That was the best looking (yet still amazingly heavy) band I had ever seen up until that point. Liras DEATH screams were in the 20-30 second range and full-throated power. So, in 2022, knowing that there had been a full-scale change of membership (other than Amaral on guitar), I worried that the sound and look would suffer. I was pleasantly surprised though when out walked Mia Wallace (from Abbath) on bass, and Diva Satanica (of Bloodhunter) on vocals. This meant that Nervosa sacrificed nothing in the way of looks, and actually improved in musicianship. These ladies can handle death metal with the best of them musically, and you never get tired of watching them perform. A true top 10 set of the year in 2022.

#9 MAYHEM from August 20th Psychofest Las Vegas 95.6/100

I’ve already said Psychofest brought the best of European black metal this year, and this four-part list has contained many of them including Emperor, Rotting Christ, Samael, and MGLA. Still, the most famous (or perhaps infamous) of them all are the progenitors of the 1990’s second wave of icy black metal madness ... MAYHEM!

Any fan of black metal already knows the sordid history of Mayhem, from original singer “Dead’s” predilection for carrying around dead animals in a bag, (to smell before he took the stage), or to cut himself deeply while performing. They know of Dead’s grizzly suicide and of his bandmate (and founding guitarist) Euronymous claims to have not only photographed “Dead’s” body, (upon finding it) for an album cover, but also that he gathered and used the dead singer’s skull fragments for jewelry. Finally, fans know of Euronoymous’s own grizzly murder at the hands of noted and convicted church burner Varg Vikernes (of Burzum). Very likely no other Black metal band has as dark a history.

Even though THIS wasn’t THAT Mayhem, it was “still” Mayhem in the flesh, so to speak, and I was anxiously awaiting what an actual set of theirs would sound like. Clearly, I was NOT disappointed. From the spooky lighting and fog to the dark figure of longtime singer Attila stalking the stage like Satan himself looking for converts, this band gave off the blackest of black metal feels. Icy, dark and without hope or redemption, Mayhem left you feeling as beyond salvation as any band I saw all year. Admittedly, the lyrics were not understandable, but the intent of them and the music behind them certainly were. With Mayhem you have the very dark metaphorical side of Jacob Marley. A band doomed to tour the earth without redemption forever. Mayhem exudes “hopelessness” and THAT makes perfect black metal.

#8 HALESTORM from July 7th at Summerfest Milwaukee 95.8/100