Right so just about everyone knows about the band Mayhem right? It’s hard not to have, first vocalist blew his brains out, and their session bassist stabbed their guitarist to death. Rock on boys.
Well offstage antics aside, Mayhem is actually a band worth some time looking into. Since Deathcrush and De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas created the blueprints for turning thrash metal into black metal the band has been like a damned musical merry-go-round – going from traditional black metal to progressive and avant-garde metal – but with very questionable success.
How do I put this… Well it’s not as bad as it could have been. It’s not another Grand Declaration Of War. But it’s not even close to the lofty standards their peers have now reached.
First track is your typical cliché filler intro. I didn’t even bother listening to the damn thing. I hate stand-alone intros. So it goes right into Wall of Water. First thing I notice is something’s not right with the sound. There’s treble and bass, but no mids. What’s going on?
Then I realize it’s the album’s absolutely craptastic production. There are NO midtones in this thing. NONE. I have never heard any album in my entire life that has sounded this unbalanced and amateurish. With all the money these guys have, and with DIY punk bands that don’t even need pro studio techs sounding hundreds of times better, there is no excuse.
The good news about the music is Hellhammer. He’s rarely failed to play anything short of excellent drums. This album is no exception fortunately and is perhaps the only reason I haven’t wiped it from my drive and memory. Well, and there are a few good riffs in there courtesy of Rune “Blasphemer” Erickson.
But then we get to the vocals and the pain returns. Guess who they decided to bring back to the band? The infamous “straining my bowls for satan!” Attila Csihar. That’s right, the same guy who almost single-handedly managed to make De Mysteriis unlistenable. But now instead of sounding like he’s trying to let loose a hell-sized shit he sounds like a 10-year old trying to be all “spooky” while sitting around a campfire. Granted this isn’t as bad as Maniac’s spoken-word bullshit on GDoW, but dammit, I think he was trying.
All of this may have been much more tolerable thanks to Hellhammer and Blasphemer if only it kept a quick pace so Attila wouldn’t have had as much time to mumble and groan. But no such luck, there’s a lot of slower passages that magnify the glaring flaws.Parting shots:
Awesome drums and some good riffs can’t save anyone from inexplicably awful production and vocals.5/10Ordo Ad Chao