Review by Edoardo Goi
MAYHEM - "Daemon"
It doesn't have to be easy to be the MAYHEM (THE TRUE).
Twenty-six years have passed since the murder of Euronymous by Varg Vikernes, and even now the band can't make any moves without being overwhelmed by criticism, of whatever nature this move is;
If the band publishes a record with strong characteristics of discontinuity from what, even today, is identified as their final sound (that of the monumental De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas, published posthumously at the death of Euronymous in 1994), is accused of not having respect for the artistic legacy of Oystein Aarseth (real name of Euronymous);
if, on the contrary, the band launches a long tour to celebrate the twentieth anniversary of that iconic album or decides to print some recordings of live performances of the time when, in addition to Euronymous, was present in the line-up even the never forgotten singer Dead (real name Per Yngve Ohlin, who died suicide in 1991), then she is accused of wanting to make money on her legendary past, the same is true for every statement in the interview about the times of the birth of black metal, which saw them in the front row in defining musical coordinates, ideological and aesthetic, as well as those in which, in Norway, raged the famous as infamous Inner Circle.
It must be rather frustrating for bassist Necrobutcher (despite all the vicissitudes that have characterized the history of the band have given him in his hands a brand with golden eggs), at the end of the day the real founding member of the band along with the drummer of the time, Manheim (a band that, at the time, was the only one with a lot of fans), was called Musta), before Euronymous's entry into formation and the change of name to The True Mayhem directed its path towards legend and tragedy, never seeing its importance in the history of the group recognized, nor the legitimacy with which it still carries around its glorious name;
and it must also be rather frustrating, with every release of a new album, that its artistic content is often snubbed in favor of the now endless diatribes about the opportunity to continue releasing records using that moniker, and enter into the merits of the music contained in it only to reiterate how nothing can stand the comparison with the legendary past of the group (as if there was someone in the world capable of standing up to such a comparison, not only in purely musical terms).
Things have already been (and will continue to be) repeated with the release of this new DAEMON, the Norwegian band's sixth full-length, released on October 25 under the aegis of the giant Century Media and preceded by controversy over the granting of musical rights to the controversial film Lords Of Chaos, based on the events of the Inner Circle, as well as some questionable, though not new, statements by the aforementioned Necrobutcher about his alleged intention to kill the guitarist Euronymous himself, at the time.
The opportunity (and opportunism) to make such statements at the same time as the release of a new album could be discussed endlessly, but here we deal with music and only music counts, so let's leave the gossip aside and dive into the analysis of this succulent platter without delay.
Recorded in four different studios in Sweden, Holland and Norway, and with a line-up unchanged from the previous, excellent, Esoteric Warfare of 2014 (which sees, in addition to the already mentioned Necrobutcher on bass, the historic drummer Hellhammer behind the skins, the confirmed Teloch and Ghul on guitars and the famous Attila Chsiar on vocals), The album reveals since the opener THE DYING FALSE KING a very nice and clean sound, although quite dynamic, and an approach to songwriting definitely less stratified and dense than its predecessor, with more than one reference to the most classic sound of the band but enriched substantially by new inputs that can make the identity of the album very personal and devoid of any self-celebratory reflux.
We are in front of a quite classic opener, in its fast pace and great impact, characterized by a glacial riffing, a drumming as usual as much surgical as devastating and excellent vocal parts, which here Attila sets in a more classically black but without sacrificing its proverbial expressiveness, all enriched by bass counterpoints as linear as effective in giving the song that something more from the point of view of the atmospheric quid.
The short central atmospheric break is excellent, decidedly heavy and characterized by clean vocals declaimed by an Attila in a state of grace, while the finale is again characterized by impact and speed.
We continue with the equally intense AGENDA IGNIS, characterized by a more brutal and less icy approach than the previous composition which alternates large portions in mid-tempo extremely dynamic and atmospheric, with a bass and drums in evidence and beautiful guitar dissonances to seal atmospheres as heavy as wrapping.
The atmospheric peak is certainly reached in the second part of the track, built on mid-tempo even darker and heavier than the previous ones, with the excellent riffing of the guitars to seal a song as penetrating as dynamic, wonderful proof of how the band knows how to be at ease even in songs not entirely devoted to the dark violence.
The next BAD BLOOD, furious but also icy and aseptic, almost inanimate, reminiscent of Snorre W's Thorns, is even harder to beat. Ruch (who, as you surely remember, was part of the band in the period before the death of Euronymous and is an accomplice of Varg in his murder) of the homonymous album, made more dynamic by less intransigent openings from the point of view of speed and enriched by a central portion sincerely unhealthy and dark, branded by a fire guitar work again spectacular;
guitars that also find a way to carve out a solo space with decidedly technical connotations very appropriate in enhancing the mood of the song, which continues on very dynamic phrases and then ends in the name of the icy initial ferocity.
An initial triptych of great impact and quality.
It takes a bit of a breath, at least initially, with the next MALUM, with its slow and evocative opening, focused on lugubrious distorted arpeggios that refer a little 'to the famous Freezing Moon and vocals and sacral bass of great emotional impact, before the riff bearing, grafted on a very heavy up-tempo trend and with not so veiled references to the equally famous track by the band entitled Pagan Fears, explodes in all its power, a prelude to a further surge of violence on the wave of a devastating and intense blast beat.
What makes this track really spectacular, otherwise partially affected by references to the past production of the band a bit 'too obvious, is its central portion, slow and funereal, made unforgettable by the vocal interpretation of an Attila in dazzling form that emphasizes the connotations mortiferous and enveloping with stentorian vocals clean from the sacred traits of rare intensity, before a brutal acceleration comes to put the word "end" on the composition.
With the next FALSIFIED AND HATED we reach one of the absolute highlights of the entire album.
Introduced by a dark demonic rattle, the song deflagrates with an up-tempo assault driven by an imposing double bass drum (with reminiscences again close to the aforementioned Thorns) and reaches its peak of executive intensity in the furious sabotage in blast beat of a Hellhammer possessed and fierce as never before, before a raw and thundering bass comes to underline the wonderful breaks with which the band enriches the composition (a feature that I find a bit 'throughout the album), with very atmospheric connotations and made even more effective and penetrating by the use of icy synths with almost ambient tones that can give the song a dark aura and suspended absolutely great.
It's always the synths that emphasize in a decisive way the final part of the song, once again settled on the furious traits that had marked the beginning but made even more disturbing by the use of the same, with stylistic references that recall again the more "electronic" Thorns, the Odium of the beautiful The Sad Realm Of The Stars and the pioneers of industrial black metal Mysticum.
A truly extraordinary track.
It's a dark and distorted arpeggio that opens the next AEON DAEMONIUM, characterized by a drumming attack with darkly epic outlines, with an Attila again on the shields for interpretation, before a new double bass drum assault, less brutal than the previous one but still very involving, arrives to mark the time of a dark and enveloping composition, brutalized by an acceleration of death black mold of great impact and masterfully rendered atmospheric by beautiful openings from the connotations again epics driven by an excellent work of the two guitars and an Attila that confirms once again as one of the most expressive and versatile singers of the entire scene.
A very dynamic song that confirms the tendency of this incarnation of Mayhem to focus heavily on atmosphere and dynamics, in the composition phase, without giving up the extremism and nihilism that have always distinguished the work of the band.
Nihilism and extremism that we find dispensed with full hands on the next WORTHLESS ABOMINATION DESTROYED, a song characterized by a continuous assault and ruthless, as cold as oppressive and leaden, beautifully inse
Nihilism and extremism that we find dispensed with full hands on the next WORTHLESS ABOMINATION DESTROYED, a song characterized by a continuous and ruthless assault, as cold as oppressive and
leaden, beautifully inserted in the general atmosphere of an album extremely suffocating and claustrophobic, made even more disturbing by alienating and declamatory vocal lines and by splendid
guitar phrasings that, often in unison, sketch chilling and alien tears in the sound fabric of a piece that only in its central part sees the band slightly pull the brake of a song that would
otherwise be extremist and implacable like no other in the album with very heavy and oppressive mid tempo portions.
A track with a devastating impact, but also certainly composed.
The next DAEMON SPAWN is a completely different tenor, built instead on a slow, hypnotic and extremely evocative general trend, very experimental both in terms of music, dilated and dissonant as never before, and in terms of vocals, with an Attila even freer to give vent to all his madness between suffocated screams, nervous sensations and choral parts with strong epic inspiration.
The resulting atmosphere is as disturbing as it is majestic, with the dynamism of the piece guaranteed, on the other hand, by a progressive acceleration to the height of the central part of the piece (as well as the final part), made even more impressive by an apt detachment thrashy, before the song returns to its dominant atmospheric mood.
Really another pearl in the tracklist of an album that doesn't really know any setbacks.
Much more classic is the penultimate track in the lineup, entitled OF WORMS AND RUINS, characterized throughout its development by the alternation between incisive portions in double bass drum and others marked by a penetrating blast beat, although not paroxysmal in its progress.
As always, the band fills the track with appropriate mid-tempo portions that take nothing away from the impact of the same, which is confirmed as one of the fiercest portions of the entire album, although not one of the most distinctive.
The regular album ends with the extremely daring INVOKE THE OATH, with its icy initial gait of black-industrial tones (a genre that the band has repeatedly shown to like, in its artistic path post-De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas) and its broken up-time trend characterized by an abundant presence of synths and a marked dynamism, as well as an obvious freedom of composition, all made consistent and functional by an atmospheric continuity as penetrating and enveloping as well as enviable.
As you could have expected, a song with similar experimental connotations allows a singer who has made experimentation his flag of interpretation throughout his career to express himself to its full potential, creating a superlative test that seals in a decisive way a song as brave as successful and, with it, an album to say the least successful.
In the limited edition there are also two bonus tracks that, even if without adding anything substantial to the work, prove to be of excellent quality;
I know it's the tracks EVERLASTING DYING FLAME, very classical in its fast and fierce pace, with an Attila very close to the style that had characterized his controversial test on DMDS and a sound fabric innervated by beautiful guitar dissonances and effective bass interventions, and the most particular BLACK GLASS COMMUNION, with its strong black & roll characteristics decidedly heavy streaked with sudden total black acceleration, as much catchy and vibrant (made the right distinction) as effective and extremely enjoyable.
Thus ends an album that will undoubtedly, as always, discuss, but on the intrinsic quality of which no one can have anything to object, except for the honest intellectual of each one.
An album that presents, for me, only a couple of flaws, recognizable in a production that I personally would have liked a little more dirty, "carnal" and deep, and in a certain linearity of the tracks that will sound like a partial disappointment for those who, like me, had liked very much the extreme and disturbing stratification of the previous work.
But, as always, the band decided to follow its own unwritten rule that does not include the release of similar albums, and comes back to us with a new sound, although obviously full of the entire wealth of experience so far gained.
A really good job, without filler and decidedly inspired and cared for, which will make the happiness of all fans who have so far appreciated the work of the band, going beyond the diatribes
about the opportunity of its very existence (with this moniker) after the death of Dead and Euronymous, appreciating instead the courage and artistic integrity in never wanting to rest on the
laurels (and the sound) of the past to produce albums always fresh and with their own identity, the sons of a band that still knows how to write songs like few others in the world, in the face of
its detractors who, often, bask in the vain illusion of knowing how to do better.
Promoted without hesitation.