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Mayhem - Daemon Award winner

by Chris Hawkins at 17 October 2019, 12:06 AM

There has never been a band that has been rifer with controversy than MAYHEM.  Undoubtedly, there were times in the long-spanning run of MAYHEM that its members were sure all was lost.  Certainly, that feeling comprised the loss of Euronymous, but supposedly, he was elated when original singer, Dead, decided his time to venture into the next realms of reality was long overdue.  There has never been an event to occur, however, to dissuade those left behind from picking up the pieces and soldiering on in their service of the dark lord.  One cannot overstate the importance of the band to Black Metal for it was their style:  those haunting riffs, corpse paint, and lots of blood that helped them carve out a new genre from the groundwork laid by predecessors such as VENOM, BATHORY, and HELLHAMMER.  There are many bands with thirty-plus-year careers in Extreme Metal, but few can claim that like MAYHEM, they are continuing to advance the science further with each album.  Without pointing fingers, it is resoundingly clear which bands are still evolving and which have decided to just cash in on past glories, many of which occurred two decades ago.  Somehow, though, MAYHEM has managed to retain relevancy and the band’s sound is just as dangerous, lethal, in fact, as ever.  The band’s new album is entitled “Daemon” and will release via Season of Mist on the twenty-fifth day of this month.

The selection of “The Dying False King” to lead the album off was a sound decision for it is a proper first song.  It grabs one with a sense of immediacy and before long, one is fully enveloped by its dark, mystical spell.  Of particular note, the bass performance is a true stand out for Necrobutcher formidably makes his presence known by stalking the arpeggios of the chords being strummed by Teloch and Ghul.  It is as if each note he uses is the most sinister one possible in the given key.  The bass line turns out to be a deadly dance that deliberately etches the boundary between this realm and the netherworld.  “Agenda Ignis” follows during which Necrobutcher continues to occupy one’s attention with the wicked bass lines he lays down.  His tone is gargantuan with ample mids and a fuzzy haze over the top, a very articulate sound that is perfect for demonstrating his forwards leaning ideas.  The third track, “Bad Blood,” contains another example of solid bass playing where a new idea is introduced with the low-end getting its own segue.  Bass playing such as this is the band’s new secret weapon.

Attila must also be given credit in his now elder tenured status.  He has refined his part, becoming a complex weave of dark forces.  His performance almost has a shamanic quality to it as it mesmerizes with a corporeal serendipitous performance.

Another highlight of the album is the fifth track, “Falsified and Hated,” an exemplary specimen of Black Metal.  The riffs are more frantic than ever conveying myriad feelings of dread and the desperation of desolation.  The sporadic use of keyboards to color the sound in the more galloping sections is refreshing the way it unobtrusively fills things up.  The following track, “Aeon Daemonium,” is a prime example of the strong architecture used in the assembling of these songs.  The guitar performance is so very tight, rhythmically precise yet not mechanical-sounding.  The layering of these strong riffs and wise use of transitions yet again are the key ingredients to this stellar track.  “Worthless Abominations Destroyed” follows and is also the first single for the album, an accurate snapshot of the macro forces at play.

The album is an overwhelming success on many levels.  First, it manages to demonstrate that the same eerily arcane magic the band once cast on “De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas” is still alive and well in the ether from which the band draw their ideas.  Also, it is in the way this magic is conveyed.  Never has MAYHEM sounded more like a band, a cohesive, engineered entity propelled by the individual talent of each member.  We have already seen how beneficial the bass lines have been in transitions particularly.  Finally, it forges ahead of the genre with a singular, dystopian theme running throughout various offerings of song.  The songs are elevated to something beyond collections of riffs and blast beats.  MAYHEM have always been unafraid to try new things and it seems this time, the band really convened around its obvious strengths:  next-level, guitar magic, a progressive approach to bass, thunderous percussion, and an otherworldly entity entirely in Attila.

MAYHEM, despite constant touring, have managed to create a robust, memorable record.  It contains its own unique vibe that can be felt throughout, one of unease and battle on some level.  In many ways, this is the best album heard yet this year.  My already heightened level of respect for the band has grown exponentially.  This is a must-have if 2019 ever had one.

Songwriting:  9
Originality:  9
Memorability:  9
Production: 9

4 Star Rating

1. The Dying False King
2. Agenda Ignis
3. Bad Blood
4. Malum
5. Falsified and Hated
6. Aeon Daemonium
7. Worthless Abominations Destroyed
8. Daemon Spawn
9. Of Worms and Ruin
10. Invoke the Oath
11. Everlasting Dying Flame (Bonus Track)
12. Black Glass Communion (Bonus Track)
Hellhammer – Drums
Teloch – Drums
Ghul – Guitars
Necrobutcher – Bass
Attila Csihar - Vocals
Record Label: Century Media Records


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Edited 03 December 2022

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