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Change?! Run for your lives! - 80%

stickyshooZ, October 31st, 2004

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.