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Where De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas might represent that gang of greasy, intimidating 'cool' kids that hang out smoking cigarettes behind the ruins of your old town library, and Grand Declaration of War the crowd of nerdy, preachy PoliSci hopefuls at your community college, Chimera is the clean-cut heartthrob that you will most likely deem fit to bring home to Mom. That is, if your Mom is the fucking Devil, and plans on seducing and devouring such a wanton sacrifice. Mayhem have honed in on their production values this time out, and presented what must be their glossiest, most straightforward effort to date. The surgical precision of the riffing from the prior album are retained, and yet there's a backslide into extremity here that recalls the Wolf's Lair Abyss EP. The guitar tones are far thicker, and the vocals more ghastly and copious, abandoning the spoken word bits, and for many alienated souls, this might damn well have been the return to crushing form that they so desired.
That said, this album is not nearly so callous or grim as the band's early recordings. Mayhem are still taking some chances here, just not a lot of them. In truth, I'd say that Chimera serves as a solid 'point of entry' for fans of more technical, brutal death metal, or perhaps the more potent black/death hybrids. They'll appreciate its musicianship and dynamic range more than either the strangeness of Grand Declaration or the cold breath of De Mysteriis. The Norwegians make an appreciable showing themselves as individuals who have their fingers on the current, and can blast and burst along with the brightest, brashest younger demons in the field. I never really got the impression that they were going solely for that same, out of control momentum that they displayed on Wolf's Lair, but it's difficult to deny the pure bruising hostility of opener "Whore", or the bludgeoning speed and fire of "Slaughter of Dreams".
Still, the moments here that I found most interesting were those where the band continued to explore their dynamic potential. Like "Dark Night of the Soul" with its dire, grooving inaugural riffs that reminded me of something Carpathian Forest might pull. Or the chants that break out in the middle of "My Death", perhaps the atmospheric pinnacle of the entire album. Or that majestic blend of deep percussive bombast and melodic bending that inhabits the warlike rush of "You Must Fall". For sheer punishment, it's hard to ignore the wealth of riffing present in "Rape Humanity With Pride", or the blitz of distorted bass grooves that set up the hammering entropy of "Impious Devious Leper Lord", which also features some clinical, creepy melodies at the half way point. I'd also be remiss not to mention the closer, the titular "Chimera" and its alternation between lurching rock grooves and spasms of tremolo and double bass.
It's not the best of Mayhem's albums, and admittedly, I like it the least of the four full-lengths to date. Half the songs don't really jump out at me, even when they've got 1-2 interesting riffs or sequences within. But as far as the general metal audience is concerned, who could give a shit about the raw aesthetics being heralded by most genre advocates, the production here will go a great length to compensate. This is the Mayhem album that will probably sound the best as it booms out of car speakers, pissing off parents, parishioners and high school principals. Dethklok fans will sport instant wood. It's not a record that one wishes to experience for its atmosphere, but the concrete rhythmic currents and slavish, churning Maniac vocals that drive it. It never sticks its neck out quite far enough that it's head could be chopped off, and to this extent, it's a success, although not an incredibly compelling one outside the lyrical sphere, in which it often feels the most deeply personal.
I had waited to complete (at the time, OAC hadn't been made yet) my mayhem collection, because I had heard bad things about Chimera. Sure, I had heard bad things about GDoW, but that was more due to the fact that Mayhem experimented a lot on that, and that usually draws flak from a closeminded fanbase. So for a while I stocked up on bootlegs and other knicknacks until I finally got around to downloading a sample from Chimera off of Mayhem's website. It didn't sound too bad, and I wondered where all the cries of "sellout" came from. I reasoned that Mayhem might have done what a lot of bands do when they make a shitty record, and that is put the best song on your site so people will think all the songs on that record are that good. I decided to get it anyways.
What I initially thought about it was a fear that they had spent more time packaging it nicely than they did actually writing and recording. Indeed, the digipack was a 4-fold with pictures of all 4 bandmates mugging the camera. As well, the composite booklet made it hard to read the lyrics on some of the songs and looked kinda pretentious. Nevertheless, I plunked it in. Let me tell you, this is the first proper black metal effort they've done since DMDS.
Speaking of DMDS, I want to address something first. For the "fans" of Mayhem who want them to make another DMDS ad infinitum, I have a simple task: Go to your local record store that sells black metal (over in the SF bay area we have rasputin and Amoeba) and pick up a copy of this seminal black metal record called "De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas" by the black metal heavyweight Mayhem. There, now you have another DMDS. That's about as close as you're ever going to get to hearing another Mayhem DMDS. Dead's dead, and so is euronymous, and they were the principle songwriters of DMDS (though Attila wrote some lyrics). Do you honestly expect them to make another DMDS? I will henceforth address Chimera as an album unto its own, and avoid comparison to past albums. Apples and oranges, fellows.
Anywho, this album bitchsmacks you from the very beginning with meat n' potatoes black metal. That one, I suspect, was a middle finger to those who thought Mayhem had gone soft. Now that they got the blastbeats out of the way, it was time for another approach. It's in the next song, Dark Night of the Soul, where Blasphemer's genius starts to show. And to further the apples and oranges statement, I must illustrate Euronymous and Blasphemer's different styles. Note that I said DIFFERENT, not better or worse. Euronymous is a riff based writer. Each song is good because the individual riffs are good. Blasphemer is more of a holistic writer. He is a texture based writer, with countless seemingly amorphous riffs coming together to form a haunting picture. Each way achieves atmosphere, they're just different approaches. Dark Night of the Soul is one of the songs on Chimera that best shows that distinctive style. The cool thing is about it that it doesn't have to blast 100% of the time to sound evil. In fact, the relative doom-like slowness of the first half of that song only makes the fast part seem faster.
Maniac's voice, as well, peaks here. While he's still recognizably Maniac, his performance is a lot more forceful and venomous, taking on a noticable Dead influence, especially on My Death, Slaughter of Dreams, and the title track. His versatile performance greatly helps this album, as while it's not as outrageous as its antecessor in terms of tempo changes, Chimera doesn't settle into a rut, and it manages to be repetitive in the atmospheric parts and jarring in the transitional parts. While there are songs that are all slow (My Death, Chimera) and songs that are all fast (Slaughter of Dreams, You Must Fall), all songs are satisfactorily varied, in some degree.
Hellhammer's performance here is IMO his best. While it's not his fastest, it's the most consistent and professional. One complaint I had about OAC was the sloppiness of the drumming. Here, it's flawlessly played, yet still distinctively Hellhammer. If you've heard Hellhammer play, you know what I mean. Rounding out the lineup is Necrobutcher, who, for the first (and probably last) time, he's actually a significant part of the album. His tone is meaty as hell, and his performance here is greasy and filthy in all its low-pitched glory. As well, he's a driving force in songs like Impious Devious Leper Lord and the aforementioned Dark Night of the Soul.
So, really, once you drop the closed mind and try to accept this for what it is, it's really quite marvellous. It has a distinct atmosphere and it is a haunting one at that.
In my mind, a lot of the hate thrown in the Blasphemer-era Mayhem’s direction is unwarranted. A lot of said hate is thrown at Maniac and his infamous “raped-cat” vocal style, but I have a feeling most of it is just the Euronymous and Dead fan boys unwilling to accept the new Mayhem and who continue to ever fellate the Dead-era Mayhem simply because the principal members of the band are dead (pun not intended). Of course, they may simply not like the music, but I digress… “Chimera” is often compared to 1997’s “Wolf’s Lair Abyss”, and I can see that. I however view the album as more of a synthesis between “Wolf’s Lair Abyss” and “Grand Declaration of War”. Don’t let that off put you if you hated that album for its eccentricities, “Chimera” is very much a step back from that album. Essentially, this is “Wolf’s Lair Abyss” without the claustrophobic atmosphere and chilling production. In a way, it’s almost a mechanical album, yet retains a sense of human aggression not seen since “Mediolanum Capta Est”, or if we want to keep in the studio, “Deathcrush”.
Maniac’s vocal performances during his stint with the “new” Mayhem are often much maligned. Detractors who were previous turned off by Maniac’s strangled vocals will be hearing a pleasant surprise on “Chimera” as the man rasps, chokes and screams his way brilliantly through the album. Never letting down, his one mellow moment being a very haunting chant during “My Death”. Yes, the clean vocals from “Grand Declaration of War” are gone. I personally enjoyed Maniac’s performance on that album, however anybody who thinks such a clean vocal style could work on “Chimera” is fooling themselves.
The sound on Chimera is brilliant. Cold and mechanical is what Chimera is all about. The bass is audible (and sounding great) and Blasphemer’s guitars are brilliantly produced to bring out the magnificently written riffs. If you’re not getting your face torn off on “Whore” or “You Must Fall”, then prepare for twisted riffs that are sometimes, to be frank, fucking scary. Blasphemer’s effort on this album is commendable, the utterly repulsive (in a good way) title track being particularly notable. The bass work on Chimera is also very nice, with the start of “Impious Devious Leper Lord” displaying a very disturbing sounding bass line for much of the song.
Unfortunately Hellhammer’s drums are still triggered which while not too annoying, does detract from the album. When he’s playing slower, it does become a problem, because the same snare sound hits you powerfully, which IS annoying. When he’s doing his good old blasting, it’s not so bad, as with all high speed drumming it can become a slight blur which is actually a good thing as it gives more room for Blasphemer and Maniac to work their (black) magic. While we’re on the topic of Hellhammer, does he take steroids? His ability to play fast for long periods of time with flawless accuracy is amazing and simply adds to the before mentioned “mechanical” feel of the album.
Lyrically the album is great. Maniac’s well written anti-Christian lyrics manage to avoid the slum of more simplistic bands while avoiding the pretentiousness of bands like Deathspell Omega… At least for the most part. At times it does stray either way, particularly in “Whore” (that’s towards the “SATAN, I’M HOME!” side of the spectrum).
Unlike “Grand Declaration of War” or the more recent “Ordo Ad Chao” (which has a lot of “Chimera” sounding riffs on it, something that seems to have escaped many people), “Chimera” is not so much an album that needs to be listened end-to-end to appreciate. Indeed, it’s quite easy to pick out a few highlight tracks from an album which is a consistently great album. “You Must Fall” is an awesome song, beginning with the album’s fastest section outside of “Whore” and progressing into a very “imperial” sounding song. Don’t take “imperial” as an Emperor reference though, because I mean “royal”, if you get what I mean! It’s hard to describe really, but that song in particular is absolutely perfect and one of the first songs I heard from Mayhem. Obviously it made a good impression! “My Death” is also worth a mention and is most memorable song of the album. A mid-paced song filled with chilling chants and evil riffs, “My Death” is the song that best represents “Chimera’s” sound as a whole. Finally, the title track is an amazing way to finish the album, slowly plodding its way to the albums finish.
“Chimera” is an album that kicks some serious butt, there’s no doubt about it in my mind. Ignore the naysayers of this album and listen to it yourself. This is an album that is brutal, yet twisted and is exactly what Mayhem needed after “Grand Declaration of War”. The songs vary in tempo, flit between atmospheric and outright aggressive and yet maintain a sense of cohesion sadly missing from many recent albums. Blasphemer may say he’s disappointed with this album, but he shouldn’t be as “Chimera” proudly earns its spot in the Mayhem discography and even eclipses many of the band’s other releases. "Chimera" ranks as one of my favourite releases in Mayhem's discography, right behind Deathcrush and earns that position for every moment during the album. It isn't perfect, but then, nothing really is (well, very little). This style would be continued in a more un-orthodox manner on “Ordo Ad Chao”, but do not mistake this as a simple embryonic form of that album as this is a full-fledged beast, ready to destroy you and spit you back out into the void.
In the aftermath of their most avant-garde release, Mayhem decided to return to their black metal roots with "Chimera". For a large part of the fanbase, this was the right and obvious choice after the strange experimentation of "Grand Declaration of War". However, this album manages to have its own fair share of otherness, leaving mixed feelings after its listening. This one is a quite brutal, intense and technical black metal album, and this is not the "brutality" of norsecore we're talking about.
First of all, the performance the band gives here is nothing short of amazing and rivals that of many death metal bands. Blasphemer's guitar skills really shine here, delivering complex and at the same time dark riffs at great speed. The bass is actually audible and manages to get the attention of the listener in songs like "Dark Night of the Soul" and "Impious Devious Leper Lord". Maniac is well, Maniac. His voice has worn out, but this actually seems to benefit the band, as his strangled-anally-raped-cat vocals are less prominent here, having been replaced by a standard rasp. Hellhammer is as always jackhammering his kit with non-stop blast beats, which get the job done but after a while become boring. Continuing with the tradition of his other albums after the band's reunion, his drums are awfully triggered (no trash-can St. Anger snare, but nonetheless very annoying drum sound).
Which brings us to the production values of "Chimera". Excellent performance needs excellent capturing too, and the band has done a very good job. The production here is one of the most clear in black metal and delivers us each instrument's sound perfectly. This, however, is what actually mortally wounds "Chimera". It fails to give the listener the passion and the atmosphere this album was meant to have. Gone is the rawness of "Deathcrush", the darkness of "De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas", the claustrophobia of "Wolf's Lair Abyss". Overproduced albums don't go hand to hand with one of the defining elements of black metal: atmosphere. This was one of the previous album's faults too, but Mayhem seem to have learned their lesson with "Ordo Ad Chao".
The songwriting here, just like the performance, is top-notch for black metal. Although Blasphemer decided to follow a circular approach in his songs, they have some quite complex parts that give the album a progressive touch that nicely manages to save it from drowning in monotony (see Darkthrone). At first glance, this is not easily perceivable, but the band (or should I say, Blasphemer alone) has done a great effort in layering many sounds one upon another. Lyrics seem to have been written by Maniac, and they are his usual misanthropic ones, but this time they seem to have matured and moved away from the "destroy Christianity" point of view to deeper and darker thoughts.
Moving to this album's failures and having already mentioned the lack of atmosphere, there is one thing that needs to be mentioned and that is a sort of "pretentiousness" that characterises this album. While the overproduced sound is contributing here, the fact is that the "new" Mayhem have tried to copy the "old" Mayhem to finally produce the longed "DMDS, Part II". The most blatant example is the song "My Death". While there is nothing wrong with this song and it's actually one of the best in this album, it is obvious that it's a failed copy of "Freezing Moon" a la "new" Mayhem. This pretentiousness flows through the album and ultimately destroys what could have been a very strong return for Mayhem.
To make a long story short, Mayhem did the right thing the wrong way. If you're looking for a "kvlt" Mayhem album, get "DMDS". If you want a "new" Mayhem album, grab "Ordo ad Chao". This doesn't make "Chimera" any less enjoyable, but it fails to come up to the standards of what the band wanted this time.
After the release of Grand Declaration of War, Mayhem's fans were divided into several camps: the old-schoolers who already despised the thought of a "new" Mayhem and continually bashed anything the band had done since reuniting; the ones who absolutely loved the album, and were curious as to how things would progress; and the ones who were left scratching their heads. We will never see another GDoW, and Mayhem vowed that their following album would not only be a return to their WLA style, but some new things would be brought into the mix that would make Chimera an even more intense and bleak listen. So, did it work?
You betcha. Though it definitely doesn't recapture the hazy, nauseating atmosphere of WLA, nor does it hearken back to the ritualistic pummelings of DMDS, Chimera certainly is one hell of an album. It's clear to see from the opening track that it IS a black metal album, with a few unexpected twists and turns. Mayhem continually push the degree of speed and technicality that they can acheive as a band without coming off as pretentious, and a great deal of unworldly, pitch-black atmosphere is maintained. Strange-sounding guitar arpeggios and runs constantly pop up when unexpected, but it is actually a good thing in the way of songwriting brilliance and atmosphere. This is especially prevalant in "My Death," a mid-paced, eerie journey through swooping riffs that flow in and out of the mix in disharmony and dissonance, accented by Hellhammer's rolling double bass and Maniac's layered whispers. A point comes in the song where everything morphs into a machine gun-like battery, followed by only a lone guitar line of evil-sounding chords and festering leads. Maniac ends the song in his signature clean chants, which is nothing short of paralyzing and fearful. Through the course of the song, Blasphemer continually weaves in guitar runs to add a jarring feel to the ritualistic feel of the song, and Hellhammer's drum work ebbs and flows through phases of merciless pounding and basic backbeats.
Though none of the other songs are as forgiving as "My Death," this is Chimera's best aspect. "You Must Fall" is a mind-raping descent into madness with barrages of lightning-speed blast beats, fierce vocals, and flurrying guitars, and many of the other songs follow suit. Some songs will astound with the sheer amount of insane speed while maintaining technicality in both the guitar and drum departments, but some room is left for the ominus nature of things, such as the zombie-like beginning riff of "Dark Night of the Soul," or the manic ending of "Slaughter of Dreams." As a unit, the band have stepped up their songwriting tremendously; the experimental nature has been almost totally ditched in favor of something that goes straight for the jugular. Some progressive touches still remain, as mentioned, but are never put in front of the nature of the music, which has taken a turn for the blackest road possible. The atmosphere given off certainly is darker than what the band have offered in the past, which is a huge plus.
Blasphemer does some of his most genius composing here. All of the structures are meticulously put together, and great attention is given to sonic detail and atmosphere. He deftly switches gears from mechanical, atonal tremolo riffs to flurrying power chords and various technical/experimental touches all with the utmost of skill and ease. There are startling time changes placed in the structures where least expected, and all the while, touch is not lost with the amorphous, eerie, broken chords that gave him his signature style, such as the title track. This may very well be his most impressive recording, as well as Necrobutcher's; not only can he be heard, but his filthy-sounding bass brings a bit of old-school flair to a totally contemporary sound.
The other members also bare their teeth: Hellhammer truly lives up to his name, frantically switching gears from technical fills to teeth-rattling blast beats and double bass. He doesn't really have a boring moment here, as more attention is paid to dynamics and flow than anything else. The blast beats that start "Rape Humanity With Pride" will floor you, and his stop-on-a-dime finesse goes unrivalled. Maniac also stepped his game up, offering up some slightly more ear-friendly, but more ferocious vocals. You won't find the throat-shredding shrieks like on WLA, but he sounds cleaner, fuller, and more concentrated than on previous releases. As mentioned, there are some chanted vocals and spoken word parts, but not to the extent of GDoW; these moments help to take the band into even darker territory, and only thicken the atmosphere. Lyrically, things have a bit more old-school, revolving around themes of death, misanthropy, and darkness. It's never done in a juvenile way, nor is it done in a pseudo-philosophical way.
Chimera's production is suitably clean, and the album probably would have failed had it been otherwise. With the intricacy in the arrangements, it would have been hard to find a suitable "black metal" production. However, it's not as polished as GDoW, even with the triggered drums and scorching guitar layering.
Like it or not, this is the new Mayhem; a true exploration of darkness in all its manners.
Highlights: "Rape Humanity With Pride," "My Death," "You Must Fall."
After Grand Declaration Of War, and the negative response by many fans, the members of Mayhem chose to revert back to traditional black metal for there next release. Still under direction of Maniac, I had low expectations for this album. Upon listening through it, I found that it was an improvement (Although, it wouldn't have really taken much to improve from there last release) yet, still left me somewhat unsatisfied. This album seems to be very uninspired with no driving energy behind the music, and is just a bland listen.
The music here is certainly black metal, that can not be denied. One reviewer here claimed that this is mallcore, but I honestly can't see any traces of mallcore in this album at all. It's brutal and dark, with no experimentation in the least present on here. I would say this was a good effort, but as stated, lacks passion. It seems as though it may have even been rushed a bit. But regardless, the musicianship is of quality. Blasphemer once again surprises me here. Some of the riffs are quite catchy, especially those present on Whore and Dark Night Of The Soul. Some riffs though seem to be recycled, especially on some of the later tracks. Drums are also of quality, Hellhammer definately seems to be the backbone of this band still. Vocals are of course, performed by Maniac, and as I have stated in other reviews, I highly dislike his vocals most of the time. I will admit though, he seems to have improved a bit on this album, although is still nothing special, but doesn't sound too bad on some tracks. Definately one of the more tolerable performances by Maniac, at least in my opinion. Production is very good for a black metal album, which it is sometimes criticized for, but that doesn't really hurt or help the album either way in my eyes.
These lyrics are more interesting then there last two efforts. They are mainly about war, death, and misanthropy. They seem to try to be within the same vein of Dead's old lyrics. Although no where near as great, they are far more original then any of the other later Mayhem releases.
I would say that this album is a bit underrated by some, and is by no means, a sell out or mallcore album as some claim it to be. This is straight forward, brutal black metal, with a few surprises. Yet this is also not anything to be remembered really, I would say it's just another average album as a whole.
Brutal, relentless, uncompromising Mayhem! ‘Chimera’ lives up to the tradition.
‘Grand Declaration of War’, the band’s first full-length after its late-Nineties reformation, disappointed and even angered many fans of the ‘old’ Mayhem who hoped for something like ‘DMDS 2’. This would have been ridiculous without Euronymous and Dead. Instead Mayhem took the bold move, with newly-included Blasphemer and Maniac, into progressive territory with ‘GDOW’, a modern metal masterpiece. The negative press and poor sales generated by ‘GDOW’, however, saw Mayhem turn back to the brutal assault of the band’s first post-reformation disc, the ‘Wolf’s Lair Abyss’ EP, as inspiration for ‘Chimera’.
Now, it’s said, that band is disappointed with ‘Chimera’. The press and sales have been no better than the last album’s. So will ‘Ordo Ab Chao’ see a return to ‘GDOW’ experimentalism?
‘Chimera’ is far from rubbish, whatever you’ve heard. It’s probably the most homogenous, evenly balanced album the band has produced. The old bass-less, grating ‘Leipzig’ style is gone for ever, but the searing ferocity remains. On ‘Chimera’, you can even hear Necrobutcher’s bass! In fact, it sticks out like the proverbials on several tracks. Blasphemer and Hellhammer have conjoined to create the most surgically precise attack ever. Maniac has morphed the asphyxiated black metal vocal idiom into his own unique style. His last Mayhem album, this may be his best. No, he’s not Dead. Get over it! But neither was Dead anything like Maniac. Each brought his unique skill to the Mayhem mic and the music is the better for it.
To me, Mayhem is about texture. Poseur guitar solos, vocal clichés and the other mannerisms of commercial metal are completely absent. Mayhem is about creating a dense, visceral energy that invades your senses. It’s not about songs as such. To enjoy Mayhem, you just go with the flow. Viewed this way, ‘Chimera’ is a worthy continuation of the Mayhem tradition.
Where ‘Ordo Ab Chao’ will lead, we can only guess.
Change may not always be welcomed from veteran fans of any band, but let’s face it – we should not live in the past. Generally, any good band will make an attempt to change their sound in order to not piss everyone off with repetitive aspects. The follow up to the very confusing and experimental Grand Declaration of War manages to improve upon what many fans considered to be a musical disaster for such a legendary band. Well, get ready for something a little different.
This album kicks ass in unimaginable ways with the precise drumming, thick and sluggish bass, crunchy guitars, and harsh growls with the occasional snarls. All of the songs are especially fast and pack quite a punch. In each power-swelling song you get to hear a great combination of fast and melodic chunk riffs as well as melodious and cohesive tremolo work. Eat your heart out, Euronymous.
There is a solid new approach for Mayhem in the production department...all of the sound is crystal clear. Part of me wishes that Mayhem would have incorporated a bit more of an unbridled feel of ‘De Mysteriis…’in the production, but this manages to bring something different to the table. The obvious upside to good production is that you can hear more of every instrument and it’s ensured that no instrument will dominate over the sound of another. Maniac has altered his designated vocal style again; instead of guttural and vomit inducing shrieks and screams, we get more of a higher pitched growl and snarl (a change for the better, I say). A lot of people despise Maniac, but I happen to like him for the fact that he has a very distinct vocal sound and doesn’t copy the style of the typical black metal singer.
For once the bass gets a little more attention - a good example would be the nice little meaty sounding bass solos performed by Necrobutcher in the song “Impious Devious Leper Lord”. That is one hypnotic headbanging riff, and anywhere this album goes, Necrobutcher takes the stand to ensure that the music smashes the weak with the power of a comet and gives it the extra meaty taste. As usual, Hellhammer takes his standard position on the kit and delivers nothing short of an amazing performance. Hellhammer should consider becoming a lumberjack…he could even replace the use of the chainsaw in the business. Either that or he should become a butcher – he would save the work force countless hours of slaughter.
Blasphemer, of course, is on track with the skin tearing melodies and luster filled rhythm. There are some pretty cool melodies conjured by Blasphemer (My Death, You Must Fall), but of course, his writing style may get old after awhile. Blasphemer is a great guitar player, but he doesn’t have that same spark in his playing that Euronymous had. Albeit, Euronymous wasn’t a great guitar player, he could write some mean and memorable riffs – and the hooks in the riffs are what really make you go back for more. Still, this is impressive compared to Grand Declaration of War.
I doubt that the veteran Mayhem fans would be able to stomach this, because it is far different from the Euronymous era Mayhem. But you know what? It’s still a good album, because it’s unique, possesses evidence of good musicianship and it’s made by four very talented musicians. It may not their best album (De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas takes the crown for that title), but it’s not a bad listen for any fan of black metal. Check it out sometime, you might find yourself impressed.
Mayhem is one of the most well known bands in Black Metal and with this album they have returned to a more hateful and aggressive style. Grand Dec was experimental, but they go back to the old style with this so to say. Is it good? Yes and no. It's good in the fact that the musicians themselves are incredible. Production is good, lyrics are alright, and the vocals are better than previous works with Maniac. It's not good in the fact that the songs can all sound the same after a while. They are mostly constant blasts with Hellhammer doing his "all over the kit" style as usual. There are a few songs that slow down, such as Impious Devious Leper Lord and Dark Night of the Soul, both of which have some good riffs. ...Leper Lord has a nice bass riff going during the verses and Dark Night... has a nice crunchy guitar riff.
Maniac's vocals have improved a lot in this album. Instead of that screechy indecipherable rasp, he utilizes more of a traditional rasp with a low end screech. Not what we're all used to with him, and he has greatly improved.
It's sad really what has happened to Mayhem. I won't call them "The True Mayhem" since they aren't, but what I will call them is very capable musicians and originators of Norwegian Black Metal. For a band that has been around since 1984, they can still put out decent material, but of course nothing will ever match the Euronymous era works.
As the title says, I think this album is a combination of Wolf's Lair Abyss and De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas. It has all the brutality and speed of WLA while maintaining the dark sound of DMDS. A lot of people hate Maniac's vocals, but I think he has always done a great job, especially on this particular album. He has a more distinct voice and his vocals give a darker feel to the music than the previous albums he did.
Blasphemer kicks ass also. Some parts of this album are just so goddamn technical that I don't know how these fuckers can remember all of this stuff! Like on "Dark night of the soul", it starts out kind of slow and haunting, but then it becomes extremely brutal and technical towards the end. Mayhem has become a band that has avoided being one-dimensional unlike many black metal bands today. IE: Darkthrone.
This album is not predictable at all and one can listen to it over and over. For the people who say that this isn't the true Mayhem, then what is? Even old Mayhem metamorphosized from being death metal to black metal: Deathcrush and De Mysteriis. Blasphemer is the guitarist Euronymous could never be, I must say. Rude, but true.
When Mayhem's newest album, Chimera's release date was announced, I had some suspicions about it... I thought that it would be a general failure, like many ”come-back” -albums. But, when I
got it in my hands, I instantly saw that I was wrong. Chimera is a great return to standard black metal, unlike GDW.
The first thing I took in note in this album was it perfectionist production quality – all the songs are mixed with great skill, which makes the song lose a bit of the underground-feeling. Some may like it, some may not. To me, it doesn't make any difference. ;) A friend of mine, before listening the album, said ”Bah, Mayhem sux, they can't play, even though they're COOL!” and after hearing the first song, his opinion was the opposite (they were still cool, however) Hellhammer's, Blasphemer's and Necrobutcher's work is at it's best in this album. Maniac's growling (or call it snarling) is something between enthraling and hypnotic.
The album starts with Whore, which is a great beginning song, aggressive yet not too fast. I tend to detest too fast, I mean fast, black metal songs. Don't know why, perhaps I'm not a real black metal fan... who knows. Hellhammer's work on this song is great as usual, especially in the beginning.
Then comes Dark Night of The Soul, which in my opinion is the best song in the whole album, it has a great riff and drumming. Then comes Rape Humanity with Pride, also a good song but not as notable as DNTS, great verses though. Then comes My Death, with aggressive drumming and nice riffs. You Must Fall and Slaughter of Dreams are also good songs, but in my opinion not special.
Instead, the ending tracks, Impious Devious Leper Lord and Chimera belong to the album highlights, both with intense guitar and drumming work.
I suggest that you either buy or steal this album, as it is most certainly worth listening to!
The New Mayhem – essential black metal, or prettiest-looking coaster to come along in a while? I suppose that all depends on your perspective. For my part, it is at least worthy of some attention.
The first thing you notice upon getting this disc is the slick packaging. Usually the packaging is a superfluous matter on a black metal CD, but this is obviously a special case, so I feel I should comment on it. In case mine is different from yours, let me sum it up for you – mine is a quadruple-gatefold digipak with pictures of the band members on the inside. Very slick and professional-looking. The liner notes are crap, however, as they are made of some sparkly paper composite that makes it extremely difficult to read the lyrics. An entire page is devoted to showing how cool Hellhammer’s drum setup is. *YAWN* How lame. Anyway, on to the music.
The production is amazingly clear – each instrument can be heard perfectly well, and they are all in fairly good balance with each other. However, the production is perhaps just a tad too perfect. There is no rawness to be found here – if this CD had hair, even its ass hair would be perfectly well groomed. This all lends a sort of facelessness, or at least a lackluster personality, to the music. Hellhammer’s drums don’t help, as they have an awful, triggered, clickety-click sound that only adds to the general lack of personality to be found here.
The skills of Blasphemer, Hellhammer, and Necrobutcher, however, are not in doubt. They are all amazing musicians, and they all deliver fantastic performances in their own right – but seemingly at the cost of artistic coherency. There are so many weird sounds and riffs here that the music seems as though it is trying to do a million things at once, and therefore comes off as somewhat pretentious and unfocused. Maniac’s vocals are not much to write home about, either – his dry, raspy snarl is pretty basic, but it gets the job done.
This all sounds pretty bad, true. So why a 70% rating? Because it actually sounds fairly unique. Allow me to explain. I see two basic camps in black metal right now – on one side, there are the melodic/symphonic black metal bands which are experiencing a wave of popularity right now, and there are the ultra-raw, minimalist, hypnotic black metal bands which remain violently opposed to commercialism and popularity. Against this background, Chimera seems to stake out a third camp, an avant-garde, intellectual approach to black metal. Given Hellhammer’s work with Arcturus, and Mayhem’s previous effort, this isn’t really all that surprising. The downside of this approach is that Chimera sounds fairly high-flown and pretentious, but the upside is that it actually sounds quite different than most currently-circulating black metal. This isn’t really revolutionary, and I doubt many bands are going to follow Mayhem into Chimera territory. But it’s something different, at any rate.
This album is a definite return back to the roots of old school black metal, that the guys pretty much started. The music is strong and agressive with nice producion, the double bass compliments of Hellhammer is insanely fast. The riffing also stands out as being very competent, I think it's obvious Blasphemer is one of the more talented axemen in black metal. The bass pounds pretty heavy at times which is a good thing in this genre. The vocals are typical BM, Maniac has a pretty good "snarl" but it sounds a bit too much like everybody else in the genre, and he sounds best when he's experimenting.
Now to the songs, the album starts off with "Whore" which I think was just the band letting everyone know they were back with a vegeance. While the song succeeds in being fast and aggresive it lacks anything memorable.
"Dark Night Of The Soul" is up next, and is probably the best song on here. That intro riff is killer, and Maniacs vocals seem to work best here. The drums are fast without really over doing it. Great song.
"Rape Humanity With Pride" is another extremely fast tune, but like Whore it lacks in the song-writing department, but regardless of that it's still not a bad song.
For the next song, "My Death" Maniac switches up the vocals a bit. I kinda wish he would have used a similar voice throughout the album, the voice he uses here is alot lower and more unique and includes some eerie spoken parts. The song itself is pretty damn good, it opens up with an insanely fast riff then slows down to a nice groove. There's some cool harmonic riffs to be found about half way into the song. The tempo changes are aplenty and flow along pretty good.
"You Must Fall" is very aggressive, it almost sounds like something off of De Mysteriis. The over dubbed guitars especially remind me of what Euronymous used to do. A pretty good song, Maniac uses some lower vocals here that work pretty good.
"Slaughter Of Dreams" has some nice guitar work and ridiculously fast drumming but it is lacking alot. A couple of tempo changes would have really helped, it's the same thing throughout, no diversity.
The first thing you notice about the next song, "Impious Devious Leper Lord" is the pounding fuzzy bass which sounds pretty damn cool. There is tons of stuff going on to keep your interest. The guitars sound great, and this is probably Maniacs best vocal performance on the album. Great song.
"Chimera" is a good closer. The songs starts with spoken word, and even very quick acccoustic passages. The overall sound is pretty experimental and it works well. Some intense riffing at about the halfway mark, and of course super fast double bassing. Another good song.
All in all this album is suprisingly good, I have to admit I wasn't expecting much from it. None of the songs are really bad, except maybe "Whore" which is just filler. But in closing this is a great come back album for the guys.
HIGHTLIGHT SONGS: Dark Night of the Soul, My Death, Impious Divious Leper Lord, and Chimera
OK, first things first…AIIIEEEE! That drum sound! Somebody slap Mr. Von Blomberg with a sledgehammer for allowing that awful triggered sound to dominate this album and for the album to be released like that! It’s even worse than Krisiun, for Pete’s sake! Other than that, I cannot fault this album for its perfect production—the guitar sound is full and crunchy, and the bass has an evil fuzz tone which is showcased on intros to both “Dark Night of the Soul” and “Slaughter of Dreams”, and on that latter tune the bass dominates the verses as well. The title track ends the album with a lurching doom feel alternating with brief bursts of thrash, erupting into a frenzied blast beat middle part, and is one of the better tunes on display here.
Song-wise, this album is better than “A Grand Declaration of War” because it is much more accessible than that album was, easier to follow and swallow. The songs are much more straightforward than the stop/start jerky feel that “Grand Declaration…” suffered from, and the album flows much better for it. Terrifying blast beats run rampant and the double kick work is the fastest I’ve heard since Pete Sandoval on “Opening of the Gates” on Morbid Angel’s “Gateways to Annihilation”, which ought to tell you something. That being the fact that Hellhammer still has it going on in the drum realm, no question there.
Maniac, well, he still sounds like Black Metal 101 most of the time—high, raspy, and screechy—but he does get in some sinister spoken parts and lower snarling as well. Still, he doesn't have the same level of character and personality as the likes of Isahn or Abbath Doom Culta, or even Dani Filth.
Blasphemer really comes into his own on this album as a guitarist, too, as he cranks out an impressive array of riffing ranging from power chords to the usual tremolo picking to the dissonant little Voi Vod-sounding parts that littered “Grand Declaration…”, to chunky palm muting, it’s the Prego approach to riffing.
This is a good album, but overall, something is lacking, a little something indefinable...hard to explain. Parts of this album feel as though Mayhem are trying a little too hard to impress with how fast and extreme they can play, and it's too much of a good thing. It's excessive, and this is not always good. It's lacking more in the way of dynamics and feeling--it's TOO cold and calculated, not enough humanity. You can blather on about how "black metal is about hatred and coldness, yattayatta", but really, this album would sound more convincing if some real, unadulterated rage were present to go with the furious blasting and mad riffing. This is nowhere near as prominent as many other of the great black metal bands, and I think Mayhem need to either rethink their approach or call it quits, sad to say. As they stand right now, they seem particularly impotent, and this is not acceptable for an "elder statesman" band like them.
Standout tracks: “Dark Night of the Soul”, "Rape Humanity With Pride", “Slaughter of Dreams”, "Chimera"