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Maybe this will shut you up. - 91%

duncang, May 16th, 2007

Ordo Ad Chao is Mayhem's 4th studio album, which for 24 years of existence isn't very impressive, but remember they've been very busy with EPs/labels/live albums/dying. Of those 4, only one is universally respected, 1994's seminal black metal album De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas. After that was A Grand Declaration Of War, an incredibly experimental album with vocalist Maniac. I personally thought it was a great record, truly original in a genre which was becoming stale, however it was very badly recieved, and Mayhem lost a very large portion of their fanbase. Since then more bands have been emerging and changing round black metal even more, and I think Mayhem perhaps responded to that with 2004's Chimera, which was certainly more raw and to the point, but still Maniac was on the mic, and honestly he wasn't very good.

You'll be glad to hear, then, that for Ordo Ad Chao, Atilla Csihar, vocalist on De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas has returned after some time touring with Sunn O))). Other than that, the lineup is the same as on Chimera, Blasphemer, Hellhammer and Necrobutcher. Some thought this album was going to continue on the slope that Mayhem were supposedly on starting in 2000, but after the announcement that Atilla had returned, hopes were getting high, and were sustained when they uploaded a song from the new album to their myspace.

Now, to the actual album itself.

It's fucking evil.

After a 3 minute track of what is essentially intro sounds, military snares and evil mumblings, the first song kicks off. From here you will have a lo-fi attack on your ears. The album has only 8 tracks, but also includes Mayhem's longest song, Illuminate Eliminate, clocking in at 9 minutes and 40 seconds.

Obviously the first thing people will notice about the album is the production, it's incredibly lo-fi, it's very raw but you can tell it was honed to precision, as you can hear every instrument well, there is no white noise and all the interludes have a lingering eerieness which, given crystal clear production would sound pretentious and rubbish (something which I feel plagued A Grand Declaration Of War).

There are many times where you doubt that this is really a black metal album. There are incredibly slow paced doomy riffs (enhanced no end by the unbelievably sludgy guitar tone), and moments where (no pun intended) mayhem breaks loose. Somehow, it is all pulled together by Atilla's vocals. You will hear him use his voice in so many different ways it's hard to count. There are very low rasps, very high screeches, a few gutturals, spoken word, melancholy cleans, sinister whispers, hell, Illuminate Eliminate even has something resembling a pig squeal. you name it, he's got it. He doesn't do this in the same way as, say, Dani Filth does (and admit it, he's got some decent range), every style he uses compliments the atmosphere and mood perfectly. If you read the lyrics while listening, yet more evilness jumps out at you, There's the standard fare anti-Christian lyrics (which are actually pulled off very tastefully), songs which hint at mythology and battle, and also some songs which sound like they are about spirituality and soul-searching.

Instrumentally, this album is a mixture between all of their releases. As much as some of you would hate to admit, there are moments that could have come straight out of A Grand Declaration Of War, with the minimalism (Sunn O))) clearly rubbed off on Atilla) of some parts, and the pure demonic fury of others reminding me of Deathcrush and (to an extent) Wolf's Lair Abyss. I think some of this can be linked to Hellhammer's ever consistent drumming, he was always a great blastbeater, and his minimalistic drumming between actual song segments add just as much spookiness as the guitar.

In black metal, bass is never considered that important but Necrobutcher has held up his position well. With the very low-end production, the bass is clearly audible, but rarely noticeable as you are often paying more attention to Atilla or Blasphemer, but, despite his basslines rarely stepping away from root notes, his rhythm is perfect, if you can listen intently enough.

Blasphemer has done an excellent job over Necrobutcher, tritonous little overdubs add more flavour to what is otherwise standard fare tremelo picked riffs that Mayhem have always used. Of course, they pull that off well too, but some of the lengthy tracks on Ordo Ad Chao couldn't be held together unless you were given more ominous melodies to keep you anticipating the next explosion.

There are moments, unfortunately where that next explosion doesn't come, and it can make you zone out a little, and you don't pay attention to all the work the guys have done to make this sound, in the words of Hellhammer, "necro as fuck", but some of these songs are fucking brilliant, either as classic Mayhem tracks or epic experiments, with some blastbeats thrown in for good measure. Best songs are Great Work Of Ages, Anti and Deconsecrate.