The name Mayhem does not need any kind of introduction when it comes to black metal and extreme music. Rivers of ink and blood have run describing the true or false events which happened in or around the band since its inception more than 30 years ago. Controversy is its middle name and the band loves that, they need it and they feed upon it.
So when you, as a fan, hear that a new Mayhem album is ready to come out, you’ll ask yourself countless times how the new stuff will sound like or if they will at least try to go back to the glory of the early 90’s. Take Ordo Ad Chao, for example, after they released the appetizer track Anti. It was the first album with Attila since 1993 and people went berserk, hoping for De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas II. Just that it was not the case, the direction was still very far from those times. Later, when Esoteric Warfare came out, the same thing happened, even if at the time the band was Blasphemer-less.
For me Mayhem after 1994 until 2014 is not Mayhem, but another band with the same name which has decided to break free from a difficult legacy and has moved on to different territories. Now I can understand it and I cannot blame them for that, but back then I felt betrayed.
Let’s make it clear that this new album is in no way De Mysteriis part II, but in my personal opinion I consider Daemon the worthy successor of that album.
25 years after releasing what may be the definitive black metal album, Daemon came out on the 8th of November via Century Media. But now, when people expected it the least, just like in Peter and the Wolf, Mayhem did turn around towards their once glorious past. Forget the avant-garde / progressive path Blasphemer took the band on for 4 albums, welcome back the sinister and cold atmosphere, reminder of the band’s finest hour. The 10 songs on this album – 12 if you consider the 2 bonus tracks on the limited digibook version – are just flawless, one of the best modern reminder of what the old and true Mayhem really was.
But enough with that. What makes Daemon so special? Well, it has that already mentioned sinister aura which really envelops the songs and the lyrics, it is brilliantly played and it is EVIL.
Teloch and Ghul have adapted very quickly in a band such as Mayhem, where it is hard to fill in some famous shoes, in the first place. They both deliver amazing riffs and two guitars finally make this band to sound different (and full). Then, Hellhammer‘s drumming is stellar, the main engine of the album. His double bass pedals are messing with your ears while the furious blast beats are absolutely savage.
With the passing years, Attila‘s voice has aged as good as a French red wine does, so now this crazy Hungarian can play with various levels of vocal ranges as he wishes. From the well known grunts to the otherworldly whispers, all through some operatic sections (The Dying False King, Malum) and some clean parts, this man delivers it all.
But the main surprise (for me, at least) comes from Necrobutcher, whose bass guitar is so audible in the mix (The Dying False King, Malum) that you have the impression it was done on purpose to replicate Varg‘s lines on Life Eternal. Add to all these a top notch production with an amazing sound and you have the perfect follow up to an already classic album.
Another interesting fact is that all the members took part in the writing process of the lyrics. If the 2 guitar players composed the music on all the songs, the other 3 band members contributed with their lyrics part as well. For example, Hellhammer wrote the Latin verses for Malum, Necrobutcher spilled his hate and disgust in Bad Blood, while Attila Invoke(d) The Oath. This team work really gives Daemon a sense of cohesion and shows that Mayhem is indeed a strong group now.
This album could not have been complete though without a suitable cover and artwork. Daniele Valeriani has created an astonishing piece of art with his drawings and the best way to see them is the booklet which accompanies this release. From the alternate cover (on the slipcase of the digibook) to the booklet’s morbid drawings that tell the visual story of the songs, this graphic album really adds that diabolic touch a band like Mayhem has to have on its records.
The most important thing I enjoyed while spinning this album is that the rhythm/tempo is diverse, taking you through a varied range of feelings. While the songs are somehow inspired by the dark past of the band, the final result is somehow modern and original, but without the experimental part. The band has walked on that avant-garde path for a very long time now, I think it was about time for them to remember what the name The True Mayhem really means.
Mayhem – Daemon Ltd Ed Digibook Tracklist:
1. The Dying False King
2. Agenda Ignis
3. Bad Blood
5. Falsified and Hated
6. Aeon Daemonium
7. Worthless Abominations Destroyed
8. Daemon Spawn
9. Of Worms and Ruins
10. Invoke the Oath
11. Everlasting Dying Flame
12. Black Glass Communion