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Mayhem looks 2019
Photography Roxy Lee

Capturing black metal fans in full ‘corpse paint’

TextLia Mappoura

Photographer Roxy Lee reports from the Mayhem gig in Camden

Credited as the founders of the Norwegian black metal scene all the way back in 1984, Mayhem, have been influencing the music genre for over three decades.

If you happened to be around Camden on November 4, you may have come across, what you thought to be, a post-Halloween celebration. But, in fact, the corpse-like crowd gathered at the Electric Ballroom to see and hear Mayhem while on tour.

Mayhem is at the forefront of the definitive history of the black metal genre. Arguably, what makes them and the followers of their music stand out is their trademark style of make-up. Named ‘corpse paint’, the striking, inhuman, and almost gothic appearance is perhaps the most identifiable aspect of the genre’s aesthetic.

Here, photographer Roxy Lee went out to ask the followers of Mayhem about their self-expressive looks and whether they believe it to be important in relation to the music.

What are your names and where do you come from?

All: Beth, Brighton, Jade, Brighton and Luke, Brighton. 

How important do you think the look is to the music?

Jade: It gives it more of an edge really.

Beth: It makes it stand out.

Luke: It’s meant to terrify and scare people. It’s not meant to be beautiful stuff.

What’s your name and where do you come from?

Ben: Ben and I’m from South East London.

What do you think is important about the look in relation to the music?

Ben: It’s not really about the look. To me, it’s purely about the music. Forget the message or lack of message, for me, it’s purely about the guitars, the blast beats and the fast tremor picking guitars – I like that sort of music. It used to be a sort of scene, but it’s not really anymore. It’s more just fans of music. We’re not sacrificing goats, we’re not burning down churches, it’s just pure Hollywood script.

What are your names and where do you come from?

Jade: We’re Jade and Halil from Surrey.

Would you say your look is important in relation to the music?

Jade: Yeah. It’s a form of self-expression. If you’re very passionate about your music, you’re going to want to express it. 

Halil: It’s always good to be open-minded about all sorts of music. That way, you appreciate it more.

What’s your name and where do you come from?

Kenny: My name’s Kenny. I’m originally from Hamburg, Germany, but now I live in London.

What do you think is most important about the look in relation to the music?

Kenny: I guess that depends on which band you’re really talking about. In Mayhem’s case you’ve got the Norweigan black metal side to them which is, when you look at black metal as a whole, synonymous with the look nowadays. When there’s the corpse paint and everything, it kind of more derived from those guys, not just Mayhem in general but that whole first wave of Norweigan black metal. In terms of how important it is? For me personally, I see it as quite important. If you look at metal in general, it can be kind of like a gimmick. When you look at online forums, there’s a lot of people ripping into black metal, which is fine, it’s not for everyone. But, for me, that look goes quite a long way, especially with the subject matters involved. When you look at the history regarding Mayhem too, it’s extremely important. 

What’s your name, where do you come from?

Joe: We’re Hayley and Joe from Bristol.

What do you think is most important about the look in relation to the music?

Joe: I think it’s quite important but the music is equally just as important. 

Hayley: Yeah. I think, it sounds really fickle, but when they look kind of dead, it goes along with the dead sounding vocals.

Joe: It reminds me of when I was a teenager. 

Hayley: The look is shocking and a bit jarring and I like that.

Joe: One thing to cause Mayhem...

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