Mayhem is a Norwegian black metal band formed in 1984 in Oslo, regarded as one of the pioneers of the Norwegian black metal scene. Mayhem’s career has been highly controversial, primarily due to their violent stage performances, the 1991 suicide of vocalist Per Yngve Ohlin (“Dead”) and the 1993 murder of guitarist Øystein Aarseth (“Euronymous”) by former member Varg Vikernes(“Count Grishnackh”), of Burzum.
The group released a demo and an EP that were highly influential, and amassed a loyal following through sporadic and notorious live performances, attracting further attention through their ties to the string of Norwegian church burnings and the prominent incidents of violence surrounding them. They disbanded after Aarseth’s murder, shortly before the release of their debut album, De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas, regarded as a classic of the black metal genre. Surviving former members Jan Axel Blomberg (“Hellhammer”), Jørn Stubberud (“Necrobutcher”) and Sven Erik Kristiansen (“Maniac”) reformed two years later with Rune Eriksen (“Blasphemer”) replacing Aarseth. Attila Csihar and (Morten Iversen) Teloch have since replaced Kristiansen and Eriksen, respectively.
The band’s music strongly influenced the black metal genre and was instrumental in moving the global black metal scene away from the prevailing trend for speed metal. Their post-Aarseth material is characterised by increased experimentation. The 2007 album, Ordo Ad Chao, received the Spellemannprisen award for best metal Album.
De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas is the first full-length studio album by the Norwegian black metal band Mayhem. Songwriting began in 1987, but due to the suicide of vocalist Per “Dead” Ohlin and the murder of guitarist Øystein “Euronymous” Aarseth, the album’s release was delayed until May 1994. De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas is widely considered one of the most influential black metal albums of all time.
Funeral Fog—-Right out of the gate, let me assure you…if you are looking for shiny Black Metal with great production quality…this is NOT the release for you. This track…kicking off this landmark release…is a barrage of noise…darkness and deep muted sounds that come at you from all directions. This started the whole Norwegian scene and it still stands the test of time. There are some breaks in the music…the vocal is an evil cacophony of grunts, growls and incantations. This is incredible.Every note produced is evil!
Freezing Moon—-Sounding a bit less muted at the onset, there is a distinct melody line produced by Varg’s guitar. The song has a flow that differs a bit from the previous track…with a body of sound that is brighter and less noisy. There are downshifts in the bass delivery that keeps everything dark, and the drums are very present. When the guitar really hits high gear, the drums match the speed and you almost groove with the song. The vocal is eerily dark and full of venom…adding to the mystery of the band…almost making you think maybe you should not be listening to this….stellar! The song has actual musical movements….not just a wall of constant noise….this takes talent.The vocal at mid point clears up a bit….almost becoming clean and understandable….a journey in 6 minutes!
Cursed In Eternity—-Seeming to meld from the previous track, the first thing I notice about this track are the incredible drums….they seem to lead the entire pace of the song. The vocal is so much better to me on this song….sounding a bit clearer and even more evil. The heavy bass line keeps the evil elements very intact…and you somehow realize…with all of the controversy surrounding this band….that they too all of this shit very seriously. The intermittent high hats on the drums along with the cymbals are an incredible touch…the vocal just pure puke of fear and darkness. Fuckin’ brilliant.
Pagan Fears—-With a really nice rhythm line kicking off this track, you again find a certain groove to this track. The drums as usual lead the pace of the song….and I keep asking myself how the bass guitar can produce this much dark sound. The speed and delivery of this song is interrupted by a blistering lead ‘brighter’ guitar for a moment before you step back into hell. The vocal…..moved to the back of the mix and with a slight echo sounds mystic and scary. This is a chore sometimes to listen to….but it is worth every redundant note.
Life Eternal—-Much noisier and darker than the previous song, let’s talk about a wall of sound!!!! The Varg guitar plays and brightens things up a bit and gives the song an undeniable tempo that has not been in the last few compositions. The voice is a bit to muted for me…but that only adds to the evil flair of the whole damn thing. This remains one of my favorite tracks on this release…it has moods and movements and a less dark feel. And some actual singing…..lol
From The Dark Past—-Again, offering up a rhythmic groove to the song that moves more from noise into musicianship. The drums break and crash….break and crash….but the heavy foot pedal all the while smashing your forehead. This is static noise….dark and enigmatic…but with slight bright edges to the whole affair. The vocal enters and welcomes you to hell and fear…but the rhythm of the song never leaves….this is stellar!!! The musical ‘break’ at the 3 minute mark….takes you on a complete journey.
Buried By Time And Dust—-The shortest song on this release…at just 3 minutes is as you would expect….a frenzy of drums…guitars and hurried vocals that makes me think of early Venom. This is actually a pretty damn good song…the intensity never stops for a minute….and the drums…damn….they seem in-human. This will leave you on the floor in a heap of exhaustion!
De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas—-With a much crisper and brighter tone to the music, the vocal begins right at the onset of the song. The cymbals crash and gives the song a lighter tone…but the heavy never ceasing bass line keeps everything in check and slightly evil. The voice is incredible….some odd incantation singing adds to the scariness of the track….and the fog almost comes right out of the headphones to envelope you. This is a journey all of its own…..leaving an incredible taste in your mouth….at the time I was like…..what the fuck is this…..I still wonder sometimes.
****1/2 out of 5