European Legions: Live In Marseille 2000

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Details At A Glance

Category Real Music Main Menu Audio & Introduction
Photo Gallery
Interview with Maniac
Interview with Blasphemer
Interview with Hellhammer
Interview with Necrobutcher
Featurette - Backstage Footage
Rating m.gif (1166 bytes)
Year Released 2000
Running Time
82:02 Minutes
(Not 84 Minutes as per packaging) 
RSDL/Flipper No/No
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 Director Michael H. Berberian
Christophe Gaillard
Season Of Mist Records
Modern Invasion Music
Starring Maniac
Case Opaque Brackley with Jewel-Case clip
RPI $39.95 Music Mayhem
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None French [Actually English] (Dolby Digital 5.0, 448Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1 (NTSC)
16x9 Enhancement
16x9Yes.jpg (4536 bytes)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
Macrovision ? Smoking No
Subtitles None Annoying Product Placement Not unless placement of army surplus annoys you
Action In or After Credits No

Plot Synopsis

    Welcome to Music That Dares To Defy The Stale Sameness Imposed By The Multinationals 101, class, and have a seat while I deliver another combined history lesson and show description.

    Mayhem are basically one of the original Black Metal bands, alongside such highly respected names as Emperor or Burzum, and, like those two, their history reads more like a rap sheet than the story of a band. To understand this form of true music completely, you will need to understand the mentality that drives it, so those of you who are already familiar with Mayhem's legacy can skip the next couple of paragraphs. Those of you who are only familiar with the current generation of black metal bands can use DarkThrone and early Satyricon as a reference point as to how this band sounds.

    Mayhem were founded in 1984 by Øystein Aarseth, aka Euronymous, presumably as a creative pursuit to provide distraction from the terminally cold Winters of Norway. Other past members of the band include Pelle Yngve Ohlin (aka Dead), Kjetil Manheim, and notorious Burzum creative director Varg Vikernes (aka Count Grishnackh). The reasons for members leaving the band are as hilarious and ultimately self-defeating as the confused philosophical drive espoused by Varg Vikernes in much of his writings. Dead quit the band in 1991 by shooting himself in the head with a rather large shotgun, and it is rumoured that Euronymous found his body, took pieces of his skull as souvenirs, then called the police. Euronymous' story is a more complicated and tragic tale, with pro-Burzum and pro-Mayhem listeners arguing with one another about the slightest details, usually to the detriment of the music. One theory has it that Euronymous visited a fortune teller who told him that he would be murdered by Count Grishnackh, and thus began making moves to beat his friend and rival to the punch. Guitarist Snorre Ruch, aka Blackthorn, however, accompanied Varg Vikernes to Oslo and lured Euronymous out of hiding, where Varg Vikernes proceeded to stab him to death. Thus, the prophecy of the fortune teller became somewhat self-fulfilling, since it is doubtful that the murder would have taken place if not for the defensive movies on Euronymous' part.

    Naturally, with only one album, De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas, to their credit before Euronymous' violent and untimely death in 1993, one could be forgiven for thinking that Mayhem were finished. However, Hellhammer sought to reform the band, and it evolved into the incarnation which appears on this DVD, as well as the long-awaited second album A Grand Declaration Of War. The current lineup includes Jan Axel Von Blomberg (aka Hellhammer) on drums, Rune Erickson (aka Blasphemer) on guitar, Sven Erik Kristiansen (aka Maniac) on vocals, and Jorn Stubberud (aka Necrobutcher) on bass. This lineup has been denounced by the author of the "official" Mayhem web site as being more about posing and fashion statements, and some of the publicity photos support this stance. However, the old joke that any Black Metal album is a sell-out if it doesn't sound like it was recorded inside a dishwasher with an old answering machine also comes to mind. Nonetheless, for those who are genuinely interested in seeing a concert where all eras of Mayhem are represented, the track listing is as follows:

    All in all, this is a great representation of both old and new Mayhem, but Maniac's vocals, particularly on old classics like Freezing Moon, often become more or less completely incomprehensible. They sound more like a perverted mating call to Mickey Mouse from a man who has just copped a bowling ball in the guts rather than the menacing growl that was found on the De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas album. Thankfully, the rest of the music, particularly Necrobutcher's and Blasphemer's combined bass and guitar attacks, is in fine, funereal-dirge like, form. If you're after a great demonstration of how much more interesting music is when it isn't aimed at a PR representative's target audience, then this is another disc to look at.

Transfer Quality


    This concert was filmed in 1999 at Marseille, using what appears to actually be film, judging by the transfer quality. The usual allowances need to be made for smoke machines and the stage lighting, which is strong and pulsating enough for me to warn anyone with epilepsy about it, but overall, this is a lot better than I was expecting, especially given the minor problems that were apparent in the Emperor DVD that I had reviewed previously.

    The transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, and it is 16x9 Enhanced, which is a pleasant surprise given the fiercely independent nature of this production. The disc is encoded for compatibility with NTSC display devices, so you must make sure that yours is capable of handling this signal before purchase.

    The transfer is as sharp as the stage lighting and the smoke machines will allow, and it is surprisingly sharp when these two elements are at a minimum. If independent labels and artists can look this good on DVD-Video, then I urge all such labels to get their bands' live performances onto the format post-haste. The shadow detail of this transfer is good, but nothing special since the main subjects of the shots are almost always brightly lit and such detail is not really called for. Low-level noise was not a problem in this transfer except for the occasional moment where a fade-to-black looked more like a fade-to-grey, but I doubt this was actually noise, as such.

    Where do you begin when you're talking about colour in a concert video for a Black Metal band? Well, the clothing worn by the band is predominantly black, with only Necrobutcher daring to go outside the square and wear a shirt with camoflague patterns on it. The colours were more or less perfectly saturated, except when the lights flared into the camera, at which points the colours became slightly oversaturated. There were no problems with composite artefacts, however.

    MPEG artefacts were not a problem for this transfer, although the variances in the bitrate had me shuddering in dreadful anticipation of macro-blocking. I was really surprised when this didn't occur, however. Lesser distributors really need to have a talk with Season Of Mist about the MPEG encoder that they are using, because this one really does produce outstanding quality at low bitrates. Film-to-video artefacts consisted of some very minor aliasing in such things as stands and strings, but you'd have to have the eyes of an eighteen-year-old sharpshooter to really notice. Film artefacts were not a noticeable problem, with maybe a handful of marks found on the picture throughout its running time.


    Although excellent transfers seem to no problem for Season Of Mist, they do need to take more care with their packaging. The packaging claims that the audio on this disc is in Stereo, which is incorrect.

    In reality, there is a singular soundtrack on this DVD: a Dolby Digital 5.0 rendering of the original music, with lyrics in English. The DVD also incorrectly reports this soundtrack to the player as being a French soundtrack, which might be explained by the difficulty in following Maniac's vocals, but is a rather amusing blunder on the part of the authors.

    The vocals, or vokills as Mayhem fans such as the "official" website's administrator refer to them, range from being clear and easy to understand to being totally incomprehensible. Some of the lyrics in later songs are simply spoken, and these are the easiest to understand. Other lyrics are growled in a low, dirge-like voice that matches the bass, and these are easily understood when you've mastered the art of listening to this vocal style. During such numbers as Freezing Moon, however, Maniac chooses to use a high-pitched, almost scream-like roar that is so difficult to understand that you may as well give up trying before you've even started. This is a real pity, because the vocals on the studio version of Freezing Moon were almost as menacing in their original form as the bass solo.

    The music on this DVD is entirely the work of various members of Mayhem, most significantly Euronymous, Dead, and Hellhammer. In style, it ranges from a speedy, drum-pounding assault on the senses to a slow, grinding sludge that drags the listener down into the sort of places that nightmares are made of. The influence of this music upon modern-day participants in the scene is unquestionable, making Mayhem into a sort of Black Sabbath of Black Metal. Each instrument is clearly separated in the mix, although the drums seem to lose a lot of their bass presence in the mix, probably due to post-production editing and mixing.

    The surround channels were used to give the cymbals and guitars space to move into when required, but not for much else. The mix, aggressive as it is, tends to be frontal in nature, although I suspect it would have sounded a lot worse had the extra channels not been provided. You won't find anything on this disc that will really demonstrate the capabilities of your system, but most viewers will probably fail to notice when they get an earful of the music.

    The subwoofer, although not specifically encoded into the soundtrack, was used quite aggressively to support the drums and bass, thanks to the miracle of redirection. During the brief bass solo in Freezing Moon, the subwoofer gently vibrated the floor in a pleasant, appropriate fashion. The integration of the subwoofer into the mix makes me wonder what one would have been in for had the LFE channel been specifically encoded into the soundtrack.


    A basic, but somewhat interesting, set of extras adorns this disc.


    The menu is static, and accompanied by Dolby Digital 5.0 audio. Like the feature, it is 16x9 Enhanced, and it features a rather grainy-looking introduction.

Photo Gallery

    A collection of unannotated stills, with the transitions between each still being animated with Dolby Digital 5.0 sound. Unlike most Photo Galleries, this one merely cycles back to the beginning when you reach the end, so don't expect the Next option to disappear at any point.

Interview with Maniac

    As the heading would imply, this is a five minute and thirteen second interview with vocalist Maniac, who still seems more concerned with posing than actually delivering a performance. The interviewer's voice is somewhat difficult to hear in comparison with Maniac's answers. The interview is presented in the aspect ratio of 1.78:1, and it is not 16x9 Enhanced. The soundtrack is a simple Dolby Digital 2.0 effort that is still being reported to the player as being in French, despite the fact that the participants are quite clearly speaking English.

Interview with Blasphemer

    This is a four minute and thirty-nine second interview with guitarist Blasphemer, presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 without 16x9 Enhancement. The soundtrack is in Dolby Digital 2.0, and is still being reported to the player as French. Considering that Blasphemer probably has the most daunting task in the whole band (following in the footsteps of Euronymous), the questions the interviewer does ask are somewhat disappointing. Blasphemer, however, shares some insights into the future of both the band and Black Metal in general.

Interview with Hellhammer

    A seven minute and twelve second interview with drummer Hellhammer, presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 without 16x9 Enhancement. The soundtrack is in Dolby Digital 2.0, and features a constant background buzz, possibly due to the improptu setup used to conduct the interview, which gets on the nerves after a while. Hellhammer shares the most interesting insights into the processes of touring and playing shows, and it is interesting to note that in spite of being the one who reformed the band, he is (reportedly) the one with the lowest level of interest in this style of music. It's just too bad that the interviewer is such a complete dullard.

Interview with Necrobutcher

   This is an eighty-two second interview with bassist Necrobutcher, presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 without 16x9 Enhancement. Again, the soundtrack is reported to the player as being in French, despite the fact that the participants are Norwegians speaking in English. Necrobutcher seems more interested in talking crap than actually giving a meaningful interview, limiting the value of this extra.

Featurette - Backstage Footage

    Disappointingly, this is nothing more than an eighty-four second snippet of footage taken from behind the stage, presented Full Frame with Dolby Digital 2.0 sound. There's nothing to see here, except for some burned-in subtitles that translate something Necrobutcher says in Norwegian into English.


    There are no specific censorship issues with this title.

R4 vs R1

    This disc is the same all over the world, right down to the NTSC formatting.


    Mayhem are one of the most influental Black Metal bands to ever exist, and European Legions: Live In Marseille 2000 gives a small taste of the reason why. The only flaw is that Maniac seems too concerned with posing to provide a good vocal performance, but this can be overlooked on the strength of the other performers. Contrary to what some of the old fans will have you believe, all they really need to do is get their vocalist's head out of his proverbial (or get a new one) and they'll be as close to the feel of the original Mayhem as one can get without the presence of the late, great Euronymous.

    The video transfer is very good.

    The audio transfer is very good.

    The extras are limited, but somewhat interesting.

Ratings (out of 5)

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 © Dean McIntosh (my bio sucks... read it anyway)
April 27, 2001 
Review Equipment
DVD Toshiba SD-2109, using S-video output
Display Samsung CS-823AMF (80 cm) in 16:9 and 4:3 modes, calibrated using the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.
Audio Decoder Built In (Amplifier)
Amplification Sony STR-DE835, calibrated using the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.
Speakers Yamaha NS-45 Front Speakers, Yamaha NS-90 Rear Speakers, Yamaha NS-C120 Centre Speaker, JBL Digital 10 Active Subwoofer