What can I really say about Mayhem that was not already said about them? Pioneers of the second wave of black metal in Norway to some, overrated band with more scandals than good albums to others. Personally, I’m in between, I liked the Maniac era, and Wolfs Lair Abyss is one of the finest black metal EPs out there with Maniac’s insane screeching vocals and utterly intense misanthropic material. The later releases were quite hit-and-miss. Some of them were good like Chimaira and some more experimental like the Grand Declaration of War, were not that good. You had that feeling that every time Mayhem tries to shed skin from its past a shitty album comes as a result.
And here we have De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas, with two dead members and one ended up in jail for killing the other guy because money, girl, label whatever. We already heard the stories and so I’m not going to bother with that. I truly never dig the album to be honest. I did understand its importance in the black metal scene in the nineties but you can’t go over the album without hearing the controversies first. This had cast wrong light on the whole scene and the band mostly.
As Atilla said in many interviews, Mayhem had paid for it. So embracing its past, the band had performed in Norrköping, Sweden last year during the band’s headlining set at the Black Christmass Festival.
The band truly went full circle.
Most of you have possibly heard that Mayhem was not the best live band during the last years mainly because of new live guitarist and Attila’s tired vocals. So while I was listening to this live album I was amazed and confused. I don’t know if the band prolonged the contract with devil or Atilla gargled up Satan’s balls before the concert but they had definitely released their best work in years and possibly the best live album this year.
The sound is pristine, very similar to the sound of the 1994 release but far more polished but still retaining its dark gritty vibe. The performance is tight as hell and professional, especially the drums thanks to two-legged powerhouse named Hellhammer. That guy is taking no prisoners on this record. Yet, the best and the most awesome thing on the album are the vocals. Atilla had definitely gathered its second wind on this rejuvenated performance by hitting all the notes a hundred times better than on the album. While on the 1994 release the vocals were quite muddy and odd at times, they are beautifully dark and downright evil here. It is hard to pick highlights because the whole album works perfectly as a whole, but if I must I would definitely choose Freezing Moon, From the Dark Past and of course De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas. A very warm recommendation for the fans and for those like me who didn’t see the genious side of the album.
After 22 years we are at the elder ruins again, welcome back.