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Brave New Mayhem - 93%

bimu, May 1st, 2007

This review is wriiten by a person who:

- thinks that "Deathcrush" is catchy, but ultimately forgettable.
- considers "De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas" a mediocre album.
- very much enjoys "Wolf's Lair Abyss".
- thinks that "Great Declaration of War" is a good, listenable album, nothing close to the atrocity it was proclaimed as.
- was quite pleased with "Chimera".
- enjoys Maniac's vocals.
- doesn't like Attila's performance on "De Mysteriis...".
- doesn't mind Hellhammer's triggered blasting.
- prefers Maniac and Blasphemer over Dead and Euronymous.

This said, the new Mayhem album is in a league of its own. Maniac is gone, Atilla is back, and behold!...his vocals are excellent. Blasphemer's riffs are as good as ever, but this time they're more twisted, more doom/drone/noise-influenced, and more interesting than before. Hellhammer cuts down on blast beats and triggering and shows a totally new side to his drumming; looser and sometimes even devoid of an immediately recognizable rhythm and are, overall, aimed at evoking a dark, suffocating atmosphere.

When I heard the final track, "Anti", for the first time (and was thoroughly impressed with it), I just hoped that it was not a pre-production version and that the album will actually sound as raw and filthy as the said track did. How relieved was I to hear the album with its cavernous lo-fi production! Surely it was recorded on professional equipment, but it does sound genuinely raw and unpolished. The guitars are full of the low end and are rather muffled, the bass is buried, and the drums are mixed in an odd way with the ride cymbal being the loudest element. This fits the music perfectly and shows that Mayhem can once again sound raw without falling into the "St. Anger" trap of blatant lack of authenticity.

Strangely enough (or not), the two most important musicians on this album are the non-original members, Atilla and Blasphemer. They are the ones responsible for the music and lyrics and their performances are the most notable. The former shrieks, wails, cries, grumbles, and produces a wide variety of odd noises in a far more effective way than back on "DMDS". The latter, on the other hand, proves himself capable of creating disturbing, dissonant, and quite original riffs that are able to remain interesting despite being inherently rather inaccessible.

In conclusion, this is the beginning of a NEW Mayhem, a band able to stand on its own without a need for comparisons to past efforts. Not an easy listening, but a highly rewarding one.