This might be considered a bit of a lazy cop-out but Mayhem’s first official LP is always in high rotation this time of year but I’ve already written my full thoughts on it. After many sleepless nights and laborious consideration I came to the conclusion that I should simply copy and paste my previous post while also adding a link to the original piece. It was a tough decision but I think I did the right thing. Or is it the “write thing?”
Mayhem: De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas (1994)
The death of Dead (not something you get to put in writing every day) was a crucial event that lead to Mayhem’s tortured masterpiece: De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas.
Those with sick, interested minds can research the entire story but here I’ve decided to view this album on it’s merits rather than discuss the parties involved.
If it weren’t for the sickly disturbing history of this band, Attilla may not have joined Mayhem as their singer and without his tortured vocals this album just wouldn’t be the same. Yes, I’ve heard the Dead demos. They aren’t as twisted, demented and tortured as Atilla’s takes.
There is something dangerously disgusting about these vocal deliveries. They are ingenious and avoid every vocal convention ever heard. One moment he is snarling directly into the microphone; the next he is barking and seemingly choking himself into a harmonious chorus that never comes to fruition.
It is unique, brilliant and incomparable to any other vocal performances.
Oh, but that’s not all!
The other instruments are just as captivating.
Have you ever attended the resurrection of the anti christ surrounded by the ashen embers of a recently incinerated church?
Well, now you can experience that same satanic feeling from the comfort of your own couch through the magic of Mayhem!
“Euronymous” plays his guitar with such furious rage and atmospheric emotion that it is impossible not to give him credit.
I say that because he was a gigantic heap of garbage of a human being and it is a constant struggle to remind myself to separate the man from the music when admiring this album.
Every single song on this record is authentically cold and moody.
The riffs might be simple but they are sophisticated and brilliant.
It isn’t rare that a band loses something with the absence of a guitar player but, in Mayhem’s case there was no replacing this man.
Speaking of walking piles of trash; Varg Vikernes performs bass on this monstrosity and, well it might be my second favourite element of this album.
The bass follows the drums exceptionally well and the fuzzy production allows it to register extremely well in the mix.
When Varg isn’t linked together with Jan (the drummer) he is adding intense rhythms of his own with precise, groovy riffs and unworldly atmospheric swells.
The low-end production is an anomaly; The bass sounds congested and muted when you aren’t paying close attention but once it is noticed it seems to be all you can hear.
That might not make much sense but just have a listen for yourself.
Pagan Fears and Freezing Moon are prime examples of Varg’s eerily unique playing on this record.
Last but not least we have “Hellhammer’s” colossal drumming.
As mentioned with Atilla’s vocals, this entire record is a sum of all of its respective parts and without the frantic blasting of the percussion it would have been a much different experience.
Yes, that might be something one could say about any album but I liken it to eliminating a core member of any of the most heralded musical groups.
The guitar riffs and song structures might be simple in technicality but the varying degrees of speed and conceptualism are well orchestrated and performed.
It takes a very synched drummer to follow along with the tempo changes.
It takes someone even better to contribute to them and make them their own.
The bottom line is that this is a must-have album for any fan of heavy, emotionally driven music.
It is the quintessential “black metal” album in a world obsessed with genres and descriptive terms.
No, the members aren’t people to admire and no, you shouldn’t burn down churches OR try and summon the dark lord to do your bidding.
If you can put your feelings about these idiots aside and enjoy their music on its own merits; this is a must-have record for your collection.
It is emotional, original and vicious and proves that you don’t need to record your music under a mossy boulder with a 4-track beneath a pile of soot to sound effectively dark.
You might have to commit homicide and defile a few corpses for inspiration though.