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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.