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Out from the Dark - 96%

Noctir, November 20th, 2011

By early 1991, black metal had gone very deep underground. Bands such as Venom, Bathory and Hellhammer / Celtic Frost had all moved on to different types of music and, though there were a good number of obscure demo bands, only a small handful were able to record actual albums. Groups such as Sabbat, Master's Hammer, Samael, Blasphemy and Root were all doing their part to keep the black flame burning; however, in the bitter cold north the task fell to but one band: Mayhem. Euronymous and his cohorts had been toiling away in the shadows for many years, but one thing after another prevented them from making a proper debut album. They had been surviving on the momentum created by the Pure Fucking Armageddon demo, as well as the Deathcrush E.P. More than that, they maintained some level of visibility due to the interviews and live performances that displayed a true understanding of what black metal was supposed to be about. In the process of carrying on the old tradition, they managed to influence many others around them and soon helped to spawn an entire movement. All the while, they were continuing to work on the material that would go on to become the De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas album, constantly rehearsing or putting on memorable live shows. One such rehearsal caught the absolute darkness and evil of this band, released some years later as Out from the Dark.

This is one of the strongest recordings ever made by the classic line-up of Mayhem. It features the guitar-work of Euronymous, Necrobutcher on bass, the percussive skills of Hellhammer and the possessed vocals of Dead. This rehearsal includes seven songs, of which three are from the upcoming L.P. The old songs go as expected, showing minor alterations from the official versions, but retaining the raw black essence that gave birth to them in the first place. Dead vomits forth blasphemies and morbid incantations, bringing these tunes to a new level. Nonetheless, the real highlights are the new songs. "Funeral Fog", "Freezing Moon" and "Buried By Time and Dust" showcase the band's evolution into a much darker musical entity.

The sound is really good for a rehearsal, allowing the guitar melodies to be heard quite well, along with the impassioned vocal performance. Chances are that this is not exactly what Dead would have sounded like, had he survived long enough to make the album. Listening to his efforts on Morbid's December Moon demo, it is easy to see that he was very versatile and would likely have added a lot of subtle touches rather than going all-out as he often did in a live setting. The newer tracks abandon the overt violence and savagery of the old material, opting instead to focus on creating a dark and morbid atmosphere. Each riff has been written with a specific goal in mind, as countless others were tossed aside for not being evil enough. One listen to "Freezing Moon" is evidence enough that Euronymous was striving for nothing less than utter perfection. The cold and deathly aura seeps into your bones and brings physical and spiritual decay from within. Like the black plague, the haunting melodies infect you and bring about the death of what you once were, prior to hearing this. The true highlight of the release is "Buried By Time and Dust", much like the renditions found on "Live in Leipzig" or "Dawn of the Black Hearts". Not only does the absolute morbidity of Dead's voice reach epic levels, but the riffs are pure evil and in a form not found on the studio version. As the final words escape Dead's soon-to-be-rotting corpse, one cannot help but to succumb to the eerie and chilling feeling.

"No one knows my grave
Buried by time and dust"

Out from the Dark is an essential release for anyone that has the slightest interest in black metal. This is what Mayhem was all about, and recordings such as this one were instrumental in bringing about the Second Wave of Black Metal. Forget whatever trendy garbage that you have been force-fed and conditioned to accept. This is the pure essence of black metal. Seek this out at all costs.

Written for http://ritesoftheblackmoon.tripod.com

"I Remember It Was Here I Died" - 85%

Bezerko, June 30th, 2008

“Out from the Dark” has an important significance in the history of Mayhem. This release is actually a recording of vocalist Dead’s final rehearsal with Mayhem before he committed suicide. Now, this is a review of the music, not the history, so I’m not going to go into the history behind this, but Mayhem completists really should consider this essential purely because of its historical value. Probably not a bad thing, because the music is pretty good on it as well!

“Out from the Dark” is surprisingly well recorded compared to other similar recordings of the band during this era, so if you’re turned off by bad sound, you shouldn’t be worried too much about this one. The sound is raw but clear, and all the instruments are easily audible. The playing is quite good considering the many stuff-ups on live albums/bootlegs such as “Live in Leipzig” or “Dawn of the Black Hearts” and the guitars in particular have a really raw, tone to them. What’s perhaps most surprising, and certainly evident during “Pure Fucking Armageddon” is that this is all the songs are very well structured. Even the normally wild and random guitar solo of the aforementioned song sounds natural and structured beyond what the band normally did live with the songs from the “Deathcrush” and “Pure Fucking Armageddon” releases. Just to throw a spanner in the works, the solos have this strangely thrash like sound to them in regards to the guitar tone. Albums such as “Live in Leipzig” masked this perhaps important element to the sound of the older songs on show here in favour of a more chaotic and “loose” approach. The songs from “De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas” are all played pretty much to the book, and really offer no variation in playing to what was being played by the band all throughout the late eighties and early nineties. This goes right down to the pounding drums opening “Funeral Fog” played by Hellhammer. Speaking of Hellhammer, his drum work throughout this release is solid, displaying a slightly more free and chaotic style than what he plays during present times, using heavy emphasis on his cymbal work. As for good old Necrobutcher, he just sits there and plucks away at that bass of his, not really doing all that much. Quite a letdown, because the best Mayhem releases feature the bass quite prominently, providing a solid and crushing backdrop to Euronymous’ razor sharp guitar tone. The only time you’re going to take notice of Necro is when “Freezing Moon” gives way to the bass break around the halfway mark.

Of course, there’s really only one reason why anybody would go out of their way to hear this (unless you’re like me and go searching to hear and every version of a Mayhem song ever recorded) and that reason is vocalist Dead. To be honest, this is one of his more average performances. While he certainly screams his way through this album far better than his uninspired performance on “Live in Leipzig,” ultimately he just doesn’t live up to the expectations I have of the man after hearing his other performances on other live albums and rehearsals. Perhaps part of the problem is the “mixing” of this, he sounds quiet on song songs, but far too loud on others. Whether this stems from Dead having trouble controlling his voice volume when doing his thing, or whether it’s just due to the recording equipment used, I have no idea, but it is quite distracting.

As for the songs themselves, I won’t delve too much into them here to be honest. All the respective albums will have a review coming from me where I shall explain my thoughts on them, but I honestly believe they’re all good. As mentioned, the “De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas” songs are all played to the book and the songs form “Deathcrush” and “Pure Fucking Armageddon” are just about as well, bar a slightly less chaotic style and a more intricate drum performance than Manheim’s work on the originals. The track list essentially represents a Mayhem set list at the time, with three songs from “De Mysteriis,” three from “Deathcrush” and one that has appeared on both “Deathcrush” and “Pure Fucking Armageddon” (if you’re too lazy to browse Metal Archives, that would be “Pure Fucking Armageddon”). All the songs are performed well, but nothing stands out as brilliant.

“Out from the Dark” is an interesting rehearsal, there’s no doubt about it. It’s well performed and intense all the way through. If dubbed some crowd noises over this, you’d have an easy time getting a newcomer to the band believing this is a live album. I like this release, but I don’t listen to it often, there’s just better Mayhem releases out there from this era (and others for that matter) that are better than “Out from the Dark.” If someone wanted a release to guide them into listening to Mayhem’s Euronymous era, “Out from the Dark” would be a pretty good place to start. It’s clean but raw, intense and features a good selection of songs. You’re not going to find this to buy any more as it long ago sold out, however give it a download and a listen anyway if you’re looking into the band, or are simply searching around for more Mayhem songs with Dead singing on them. Interesting historically, and a fine performance, but certainly not essential Mayhem.

Oh yeah, sorry for the cheesy title.

Every fan's must have release - 90%

themastertherion, October 1st, 2006

This might serve as a collector's item more than a recording to listen to for many people, since we have the ass kicking versions of those songs in Deathcrush and De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas. On the other hand, I have always liked how Dead handled the vocals, and despite Attila's milestone performance in Dom Sathanas, Dead has always been the best vocalist that these fellow norsemen had. Out From The Dark satisfies my hunger on hearing more and more stuff with Dead on vocals, and this one, as it is absolutely better sounding than Live In Leipzig and Dawn Of The Black Hearts, is a showcase how this man's totally grim and eeire voice put the things in the blackest masquerade. There is also the nostalgia stuff, you know...

I cannot say that Out From The Dark was produced well (not like the Pure Fuckin Armageddon demo of course), with too high vocals pushing the rest of the music back, but since you know the songs, it doesn't make too much difference because you can easily hear what the hell is happening there. And this is just a rehearsal anyway. The tracklist is the one that probably Euronymous-era Mayhem used on all their gigs, combining the Deathcrush songs that emphasize on mayhem with De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas material that is still the best performance in all Black Metal history.

There is no point in trying to define the music. This band is known largely enough. Mayhem was not a band that changed their songs throughout time, so there is still nothing different in those songs than any other version you may across (I don't know if the post-Euronymous era mushrooms have done anything with them, I am not interested in their revolting material so I am not following their pathetic attempts to produce something for themselves by just using the name). They probably just went into the studio and played it head on as composed in the first place.

If you are into Mayhem, try to lay your hands on this one, and you will not be disappointed.