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MAYHEM Daemon

By Peter Atkinson, Contributor
Wednesday, November 13, 2019 @ 8:37 AM


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MAYHEM
Daemon

Century Media Records, 2019




It has taken quite some time for MAYHEM to regain the sonic footing it found with 2004’s propulsive Chimera, where the band’s progressive leanings were tempered by comparatively tight songwriting and more resonant production values, making for a particularly potent album. Lineup changes and creative departures – or a combination thereof – have marked the black metal firebrand’s subsequent work, for better or worse.

The 2007 follow-up Ordo Ad Chao was the very antithesis of Chimera, with its militantly low-fi “necro” sound and unorthodox compositions topped by the nightmarish vocal gymnastics of Attila Csihar, who returned to the band a decade after singing on its fraught debut De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas, the most infamous/legendary black metal album of all time for reasons that are well documented and need no repeating here. The 2014 outing Esoteric Warfare was certainly true to the “esoteric” aspect of its title as it saw 2011 guitar recruit Teloch (aka Morten Bergeton Iversen, also of NIDINGR taking over songwriting responsibilities from the departed Blasphemer (Rune Eriksen). The results were an odd mishmash, contrasting black metal fury with avant digressions that recalled 2000’s divisive Grand Declaration of War only weirder - given Csihar’s operatic proclivities - and were an acquired taste, to be charitable.

Daemon, MAYHEM’s sixth studio full-length, harks back to what gave Chimera so much impact and immediacy. More streamlined, direct songs; a vehement, vibrant performance; and the sort of natural, but resounding production that really brings home the music’s raw power make Daemon connect right off the bat. There’s not much to really figure out here – especially when compared with the often-curious Esoteric Warfare. Daemon is essentially a contemporary take on traditional black metal played with the guile of a band that’s been there since the beginning. Indeed, in many ways, the album sounds more like a logical follow-up to the feral De Mysteriis than anything, which no doubt has something to do with MAYHEM having played that album in its entirety on tour in recent years. The bracing trem guitars punctuated by malevolent grooves from Teloch and Ghul aka Charlie Hedger, ex of (CRADLE OF FILTH) , the careening tempos powered as always by drummer Hellhammer and Csihar’s theatrical vocals all work in near perfect harmony here, giving Daemon the consistency and purpose that Esoteric and Ordo seemed lacking. It is not the sound of a band vainly experimenting or grasping for direction, instead it’s the sound of MAYHEM playing to its strengths, taking primal inspiration and giving it a fresh boot up the ass.

The album opens with the entire band launching full-bore into the jarring “The Dying False King” and its off to the races from there. Daemon is a predominantly up-tempo affair, with slower, atmospheric parts scattered about and the initially martial “Aeon Daemonium” and the eerie “Daemon Spawn” offering more extended mood pieces. That’s not to say there’s no nuance or dynamics here, they are just more of a side dish than the main course.

Tracks like “Bad Blood” and “Malum” are especially punchy, and even downright catchy, despite “Malum’s” all-Latin lyrics, while “Agenda Ignis”, “Worthless Abominations Destroyed” and “Of Worms And Ruins” are absolutely furious, riding Hellhammers blast beats and double-bass gallop. The more expansive “Falsified And Hated” and the mantra-tinged closer “Invoke The Oath” fall somewhere in the middle, but never lose their steely focus.

The digital version Daemon, which was issued two weeks before the physical copies, offers a couple bonus tracks that make it the media of choice. “Everlasting Dying Flame” sounds like a holdover from the De Mysteriis days, especially with Csihars chilling vocals – and he is fiendishly effective throughout - while “Black Glass Communion” echoes some of Estorics eccentricities, but in a more pleasing manner. Regardless, both stand up to any of the other tunes here and make an already formidable album all the more sensational.

4.5 Out Of 5.0


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