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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.