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Not the best black metal album ever - 85%

PseudoGoatKill, November 29th, 2004

“De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas” is damn fine album, but it isn't exactly the best black metal album ever. The album contains Mayhem's fourth lineup change. This time replacing the now six feet under Dead with Attila. I do have to give Dead some credit though; he was the one that wrote the lyrics for this release. So how does this album fair? It fairs pretty good. Which mind you are a few steps below, "This is the greatest black metal album ever!”

Many of the Mayhem classics that you've come to love and obsess over are here. Freezing Moon, Funeral Fog, and From the Dark Past just to name a few. The production is far better than the Promo 1987 demo. Some of you may have remember my review for it. Turns out it was a bootleg containing the only two studio tracks by Dead. Enough about the bootleg though. The lineup on this album may well in fact be Mayhem's best lineup. I almost hate to say this but in some aspects Attila was a lot better than Dead: more on that later.

The guitar riffs on this album done by Euronymous are pretty decent, however despite popular misconception Euronymous was not the great black metal guitar player that a lot of people made him out to be. The riffs he played were fairly simple, and in rare cases he would make use of the scales. It also appears that Euro was big fan of power chords. Normally this method of guitar playing would not garner anyone the award of the Guitar God. Euronymous does manage to play these simple riffs extremely fast, and switch from riff to riff on the fly which does require talent. His best guitar works happen to be on Freezing Moon, Funeral Fog, De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas, and From the Dark Past. The riffs on these songs are very catchy and hard to get out of my head, a definite plus. Unfortunately the guitar riffs for the other songs don't fair as well. Euronymous - 75/100

The bass lines and bass riffs for the album provided by Varg "I'm Killing Euronymous" Vikernese are also catchy, and in a rare case some of the bass lines are actually memorable. When that happens with most metal albums it's considered surprising; when it happens with a black metal band it's almost enough to faint over.. Unlike, Euronymous though, Varg's bass playing never succeeds in actually making it front in center ahead of Euronymous's guitar playing. Part of the reason for this is because the bass was turned down for personal reasons. This is a shame, since in more than few cases the guitar riffs are not exactly that great and the drums become boring after a while. Varg - 85/100

Next up is the drumming brought to you in part by Hell-"I'm the normal one of the band" hammer. The thunderous, artillery style drumming I've come to love from the Promo 1987 bootleg is back. This time mixed with some clearer production drum lines. Hellhammer manages to keep the pace and rhythm of the whole album which is very fast and loud. At times it seems that Hellhammer has to steal the spotlight from Euronymous. Which is a lot of times, it simply gets tiring after awhile. Hellhammer - 80/100

At last the vocals provided by Attila are the best thing on this album. Earlier in the review I had mentioned that Attila's vocals are better than Dead's vocals. Here is why; Attila manages to change his vocals around in a theatrical sort of way. This brings out the full atmosphere of the album and almost makes it into an event. His singing, grunts, shrieks, screams, chants, yells and growls are all very damn good on this record; especially on "Freezing Moon" "Funeral Fog" and the title track. Dead's vocals on the other hand tended to remain within the same range. He sounded like a man shrieking while being tortured by demons in the depths of Hell. It gets boring after a while. Attila - 100/100

“De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas” may be well in fact Mayhem's best studio album to date. The true Mayhem fans will already own this album, but for the new fans that are just now dipping their feet into the Mayhem pool they should skip over the newest releases with Maniac on vocals and pick this one up instead. Don't expect perfection though. Overall 85/100