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Mayhem - Pure Fucking Armageddon - 55%

mentalselfmutilation, April 3rd, 2008

Here we are 22 years following this release. Black metal has defined itself as an established genre of the extreme metal movement. 22 years later this band is hailed as one of the biggest influences ever to come from that genre. 22 years ago this was one of the harshest rawest most brutal sounding demo tapes ever, but now we consider this recording to be very poorly done and looked at with indifference or with disgust because of its nature. This is mayhem in its purest form. This is what happens when some kids in high school (or fresh out of high school) get together and start playing the most extreme stuff they can.

Musically, I have to admit, that the title is extremely accurate. This record truly is Pure Fucking Armageddon by its own definition. The entire recording both in terms of production and music talent is chaotic to the most extreme points. You can tell this recording was probably more of a band rehearsal of 3 kids who loved bands such as Venom, Hellhammer, and Celtic Frost during the mid 80s, and you can hear a lot of the influence in the moments you can decipher the guitars and bass in this low end recording. Euronymous' vocals get a lot of negative feedback, and I must agree that they're far from the greatest vocals I've ever heard. He's definitely not as great as messiah and maniac would eventually be, but his vocals definitely fit the atmosphere in the sound.

The first side "Fuck" is in short a demo that was less widely released and acknowledged by the band. The recording is raw and brutal before these terms became acknowledged by mainstream metal and became another ambiguous label to define the scene itself. Everything on the Fuck side is pretty well done and really what makes the recording worth listening to. The songs eventually would become songs that still define Mayhem to this day 4 albums, 2 EPs, and plenty of live/rehearsal/rereleased material uncovered over the years that we've come across in later years. Even in their infancy they were quite tight despite the poor low end rumbling production that makes it indecipherable during some points.

The second side "Off" is a rehearsal track. It's quite obvious right when you reach the Mayhem track, it's nothing more than your average high schoolers putting together a rehearsal afterschool. Some will praise this like everything else because it's mayhem, though years later something like this would be considered downright laughable, irritating, and probably be a primary reason the band would never be acknowledged, but then again it's debatable whether or not Mayhem would be as well known, notorious and popular today had it not been for Dead's Suicide, Euronymous' murder, Helvete, and the live shows the band put on in their prime days a few years following this recording. The rehearsals sound quality is a bit easier to decipher and without the overdriven vocals over head you can make out a lot more which sounds pretty well done and very listenable.

There are many flaws with this recording of course, but it's a demo. It's worth checking out though many won't appreciate it. IF you listen to plenty of old tapes before and after though you begin to appreciate it more. This release is definitely a good indication of the underground back during the mid 80s. Could it have been better in both recording and execution? Of course, but given what they had at the time as a band, it's still definitely a well put together demo. It clearly defines what it means to be raw, harsh, and every other term and in a way is a masterpiece in itself in that aspect and is defines and paves a path that would forge for extreme metal in the next few years to come. If only we can go back 22 years ago in order to once again appreciate this often underrated landmark demo recording for what it was instead of focusing on what it is in comparison to now decades later.