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Great work of ages - 70%

_Life_Eternal_, March 4th, 2019

Mayhem takes an esoteric, atmospheric turn without explicitly sacrificing much of the black metal. It's strangely progressive, but this isn't a forward type of progress, rather a complete side-grade.

Ordo Ad Chao is an interesting display of misanthropy that is supplemented with an incredibly unexpected murky, if not fuzzy sound. Not raw, fuzzy. The drums pack a complete wallop at times and will unexpectedly present themselves in the corners of the mix while the guitars hiss and buzz at various speeds to create a very desolate, apathetic environment. Despite this, it can quickly turn into a chaotic spiral of aggression and violence, almost like a nervous breakdown.

This mix is a novel execution of low fidelity (for lack of better words) without actually creating a poor sound. The sound really harnesses emotion for once. From the sullen, militaristic intro ("A Wise Birthgiver") to the suicidal, womb-crawling "Illuminate Eliminate", Ordo Ad Chao is intensely psychological.

To top this all off, Attila's shrieks, shrills, groans and moans go hand in hand with this atmosphere. It's the perfect complement to Ordo Ad Chao's isolationism and misanthropy. Also a complete mirror to the cold and calculated behavior that Maniac brought with him, but it manages to build off of the modern philosophical and reflective edge that is characteristic of Maniac and new-age Mayhem as a whole. And looking at what came of Wolf's Lair Abyss and Grand Declaration of War, this is a step in the right direction.

But it's not all success. The stand-out problem of Ordo Ad Chao is the repetition. For an album which is so progressive, this is awful. If you get bored listening to this, you'll probably never know when a track has actually ended. In fact, even when you're enjoying it, you might fall victim to it. Every track of Ordo Ad Chao regularly employs the same tactics and techniques which just grows tiring after awhile.

There's a certain hot-cold feeling that courses through this entire album. It just doesn't know whether to be fast or to be slow. It comes off as misguided, blackened drone, or even background music at times. It certainly incorporates both elements, but never makes up its mind on any particular direction, musically. It just shifts gears too much.

And the lyrics, the lyrics vary between apocalypse and misanthropy. Hatred of people, hatred of religion. That's all, really. They're weak and amateurish. They're wholly nonsensical, or dull and blunt. But by far, the worst offender is repetition, yet again.

The lyrics never deviate from the same topic. The human psyche is poked and prodded continuously, but Attila just riddles like a jester which makes it so difficult to actually break down what he's trying to say, or the points he's trying to make. I was left with questions that were never given answers because these lyrics feel incomplete or unrefined.

But all in all; it's certainly not what I would call bad. Reflecting on it in 2019, it easily has some of the most spirit in any new-age Mayhem release, and it brims with ingenuity and passion that was seemingly lost on their 2014 album, Esoteric Warfare. So, Ordo Ad Chao lives up to its title. It's a chaotic spiral of sound that is almost like an ancient storybook that speaks of evils and woes.