Written by: RUB on 03/01/2020 13:18:18

Much notoriety has surrounded The True Mayhem from Norway, and apparently still their reputation sticks. 2019 was the year in which founding member and bassist Jørn ‘Necrobutcher’ Stubberud quite controversially stated that he himself was on his way to kill Øystein ‘Euronymous’ Aarseth, the infamous former guitarist and lead singer of the band in question, who was killed by 23(!) stab wounds by none other than bassist Varg Vikernes aka. Count Grishnackh back in 1993. Whether Necrobuther’s statement is true or not, we’ll probably never know for sure, but his bold words together with this, Mayhem’s sixth full-length and their first in five years, have garnered some revitalised attention towards one of the original true Norwegian black metal bands still alive and well. Still fronted by Attila Csihar, whom I witnessed first hand when I saw them perform the legendary “De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas” in its entirety back in 2017, Mayhem showed how they, as a band, still have the necessary intensity and mysteriousness to engulf and captivate the listener with their trademark black metal, so hopefully they have managed to do the same with “Daemon”.

Not messing around, the first track “Dying False King” gets straight to the point. The angry and deep snarls of Csihar, the drums of Hellhammer and the twin guitars of Teloch and Ghul sound like any black metal fan’s wet dream. The track develops nicely, first with a change in pace which leads the way for a build-up and since by managing to establish an overarching atmosphere for the album. The track is finished with the trademark Saruman-esque, deep, theatrical chants of Attila, and in general the sound of the album has a very seasoned feel about it; there’s no doubt that we’re dealing with a band with decades of experience. The song structures and production alone are enough to make your jaw drop, but it gets better. Where their previous release “Esoteric Warfare” was more about fast-paced blistering black metal, “Daemon” feels more like a return to the origin and roots of Mayhem. The atmosphere created with the slower sections make the build-ups that more potent and ominous and you never lose the menacing feeling, nor the mysterious sound that these slower sections surround the band with, and cater toward the atmosphere present throughout the entire album. As seen on “Agenda Ignis”, the slow sections that end around the 01:25 mark and again around 03:05, still sound horrific and malevolent even though blastbeats are completely absent, which underlines the feeling this album creates and keeps intact no matter what and thus manages to leave an even bigger imprint on your consciousness.

There’s no denying that Hellhammer is one of the best metal drummers in the world. His tight style, albeit perhaps not as flamboyant as that of others, ensures that the listener has to pay close attention to what’s actually going on. There are so many details that not only compliment the soundscape of the band as a whole, but also make you want to return to the album years from now, I’m certain. Whether it is a skipped beat or an extra stroke on the cymbals, it rewards the listener, as seen on album highlight “Worthless Abominations Destroyed”. It might be of little meaning to some, but for a genre as fast-paced and extreme as black metal, it’s nice to see bands still put work into making those little details matter. The guitars, too, are another thing to be impressed with that I simply have to highlight. On “Falsified and Hated” the main riff is, simply put, out of this world, and I would like people to show me another riff from 2019 as complete as this. It not only compliments the other instruments perfectly, but actually leads the track into black metal carnage. Again, we see the atmosphere play a crucial role with the changes in both intensity and pace, making it stand out as one of the absolute black metal highlights of 2019.

There’s no doubt in my mind why this outing has appeared on so many end of the year lists. For every fan of black metal this should be a no-brainer, but after spinning the record several times, I can only concur that this is not only one of the best black metal records released in 2019, but also one of the best metal records of 2019 in general. What Mayhem have done here is very nearly perfection. The atmosphere that reigns over “Daemon” not only recalls the past glory of the genre they themselves helped create, but also sounds fresh thanks to its clinical production and grandiose song structures. The eerie nature of the album as a whole is not created by a single instrument or detail — rather, everything about this album is mixed together perfectly and had it not been for a few somewhat forgettable moments, I could easily see “Daemon” having scored even higher in my book. For now though, let’s rejoice and appreciate that true Norwegian black metal is not only alive and well (as also seen with the release of Darkthrone’s latest album, although that release was not straight-up black metal), but manages to push the boundaries and reinvent itself so many years after its inception.

Download: Agenda Ignis, Falsified and Hated, Worthless Abominations Destroyed, The Dying False King
For the fans of: 1349, (old) Darkthrone, Gorgoroth, Satyricon
Listen: Facebook

Release date 25.10.2019
Century Media Records

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