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Essential! - 92%

stickyshooZ, August 22nd, 2004

Albums appear and disappear over the years, very few of which can really be labeled as true classics; something that is of historical excellence and importance. You know those old albums you’re always hearing about and how when you listen to them they match up to all of the hype? This rare gem is one of those achievements on every scale for its influence on large amounts of black metal musicians. It gained even more popularity due to Euronymous' efforts to look brutal by using a picture of his self-slain band mate for the cover. The presence of coherent and audible instrumentation is almost surreal, given the fact that the production is piss-poor. Who the Hell would have expected such an amazing musical deliverance in a bootleg, much less a Mayhem bootleg?

The fuzzy production doesn’t offer a serene atmosphere, and before listening I imagined that the bass would be practically non-existent on something like this, since the bass usually ends up taking the fall in the occurrence of sub-par production, but everything is amazingly audible! Without a doubt, this is Mayhem’s finest line-up; the raspy growls of Dead, the sharp and cold axe work of Euronymous, the pummeling and distorted four-string crushfuck from Necrobutcher, and the violent speed and precision of Hellhammer’s drumming makes this one of the best BM line-ups in history. Lack of lucidity doesn’t stop the guitar from delivering a stunning performance of heavy and speedy necro tremolo riffs as well as some punishing and thrashy ones. It’s not too surprising that the thrash elements are there, considering Euronymous worshipped Venom. Just about every single Mayhem classic is on this bootleg – Deathcrush, Chainsaw Gutsfuck, and Freezing Moon being my favorite tracks on here; what more could you really ask for?

I didn’t even bother with tracks nine through twelve, because they are practically unbearable to listen to from atrocious production and equally shitty sound quality. Maniac doesn’t even sound like Maniac on those tracks; he sounds like a teen who just entered puberty. The bass on these tracks is nowhere to be found and the drums tend to dominate the overall sound. Seriously, just don’t bother with the last four tracks. Regardless of those tracks, this is close to possessing a title of ‘masterpiece.’

The new Mayhem may not be bad, but it’s evident that they need to take a lesson from their early days and try to emulate the old material, because it’s their best material. This is essential for black metal fans, hands down.