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Mayhem - Psywar

by Erika Kuenstler at 11 March 2014, 8:30 PM

Your attention please! We interrupt your general perusal of the internet to bring you a special news bulletin: Norway’s most notorious band has returned to unleash pandemonium on the human race with their infernal ruckus. They are considered to be armed and dangerous, and extreme caution is advised when approaching them. It is also recommended that you keep your goats on standby in case a ritualistic sacrifice is needed to appease these diabolical deities of Black Metal.

It has been three decades since these misanthropists emerged blinking from the world’s underbelly to desecrate humanity, and to celebrate this blight on mankind, MAYHEM will not only be reissuing “Grand Declaration of War”, one of the most influential Black Metal albums of all time, but they will also be releasing a single, as well another much-anticipated full-length album. A full seven years after “Ordo Ad Chao”, the release of their fifth album “Esoteric Warfare” is planned for May 23rd 2014. With their former songwriter and guitarist Blasphemer out of the picture, many fans were curious about what would happen next. But this is a band that has risen out of the ashes more times than any mythological phoenix, and with this single, we’re given a taste of what is to come. The single “Psywar” will be released on vinyl on April 25th through MAYHEM’s reunion with their customary record label, Season Of Mist. The artwork for this single appears to be a cynical satire of the Yugoslavian coat-of-arms circa 1950s, but with a militant twist which immediately makes me think of the word “mind-fuck”. This strikingly designed vinyl contains the single “Psywar” on the A-side, with “From Beyond the Event Horizon” on the B-side. This second track will, however, not feature on the upcoming “Esoteric Warfare”, but is instead taken from the illusive 2012 “Budapest Sessions” which never quite made it into the light of day. Although the vinyl edition comes in several colours and with different artworks, these are limited to just 500 copies each, which surely has the collectors salivating in anticipation.

But enough preamble on the technicalities, what about the music itself? “Psywar” starts out with a tempestuous, thunderous bombardment of annihilating speed before intertwining this frenzied brutality with darker and slower elements, conjuring up nihilistic images of destruction, and is just about as brutal and grim as you would expect MAYHEM to be. In having to replace Blasphemer, Teloch had some big shoes to fill, but the aggression and hostile riffage in this track show that he is certainly up to the job. Undoubtedly, the anti-post modernistic Black Metal community out there will have their usual vociferous reaction, with “Psywar” indubitably being in a similar vein as the “Ordo Ad Chao” album, although perhaps slightly less avant-garde, with rawer elements more reminiscent of “Wolfs Lair Abyss” being evidenced. But then again, there’s just no pleasing some people. Still, whilst this song is perhaps not outstanding, it is nevertheless a caustic and toxic track incorporating basic Death Metal as well as more modern Black Metal influences with the band’s own unique sound, and very much embodies MAYHEM’s fuck-you kind of style. Another fact worth noting is that the version of “Psywar” which will be released on “Esoteric Warfare” will be a differently mastered version to the one found on the single, so it will be interesting to see how the two versions differ.

“Beyond the Event Horizon”, on the other hand, is chaotic, raw, blood-thirsty, and tumultuous, yet still manages to incorporate moments of bleakness and desolation. Being darker and more sinister, this track fuses together a number of different elements in a relatively haphazard fashion before its rather abrupt ending. Whilst this does add to the over-all chaotic atmosphere, it can nevertheless give the song a disorderly structure. With MAYHEM having decided not to release the album on which this track originally featured, “Beyond the Event Horizon” is a rarity, and further increases the appeal of this single as a limited collector’s item.

All in all, this single is an absolute must-have for all collectors, and has definitely succeeded in whetting our appetite for the upcoming “Esoteric Warfare”. Hail MAYHEM, let the insanity begin.

4 Star Rating

1. Psywar
2. From Beyond the Event Horizon
Attila Csihar - Vocals
Teloch - Guitars
Necrobutcher - Bass
Hellhammer - Drums
Record Label: Season Of Mist


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