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Between the boundaries of good and woeful.
on 24 April 2007
Beneath a lamenting sky arrayed in her grey, mourning attire, Mayhem were formed in 1983, taking their name from Venom's song "Mayhem with Mercy"; the lineup consisted of the now infamous Euronymous, Necrobutcher, and Manheim. Nearly 24 years later, the band have released (surprisingly) only their fourth full-length album, "Ordo Ad Chao." If you're interested, this means 'order to chaos', a pun on the political expression "Ordo AB Chao" -'Order out of Chaos.'
Immediately upon listening you become aware of the famed fuzzy production which typifies a Black Metal release. However, with "A Wise Birthgiver", Mayhem's attempts to create an athmosphere suffused with malevolence and evil, fails somewhat; instead they've created what Satan's hairdryer probably sounds like - you can even hear when he turns the power up "Mmm, must dry my quiff properly." With a bass-heavy mix, the rawness and primitive feel is achieved: it just seems a little out of place in 2007. As for the 'vocals': Atila has always sounded like a troll, and here he sounds like a troll with a 60-a-day habit. As far as introductions go, it's poor. Progressing through the album is the only progression within its 36 minute life. Certainly Hellhammer's drumming is as furious and mind-pummelling as ever - but his intensity is sometimes lost within catacombs of pointless grunting and boring riffs.
"Great Work of Ages" features some good hyper-speed riffing and a little injection of the 'mournfulness contrasted with fury' which made Black Metal so compelling; the warped screams at the start of "Deconsecrate" confirm the presence of the nihility which has long been at the foundation of Mayhem, and Black Metal. An interesting attempt at clean vocals reminding me of an Incantation and the doom-drenched drumming at 2:00 lend the record some life, as does the crawling evil created at the start of "Illuminate Eliminate". As the guitars lend a dirge-like sound, the sense of approaching evil made by drum and bass makes this albums greatest moment.
The impression received by this album is of a door opening to some horriffic moment preserved from an age ago. As the album is as raw and bereft of melody as "Deathcrush", the listener is taken back to an earlier era. It's not fantastic and the production is perfect for all the "grim" loving elitists, but Mayhem show that while they don't understand the term "progression", they'll defend the dying body of Black Metal with all their grim, nihilistic might.