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Good thing I started with De Mysteriis. - 10%

Beast of Burden, November 9th, 2017
Written based on this version: 1986, Cassette, Funny Farm (Limited edition)

These are the humble beginnings of a band that would morph into the magnificent black beast that is Mayhem, probably the most well known, notorious, infamous (depending on who you're talking to), and controversial black metal group to come out of Norway. Along with homestead bands like Darkthrone, Mayhem represents all that is cold, ugly, venomous, ravenous, and devilish within the black metal scene. Their debut LP De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas was, and still is to this day, regarded by many BM aficionados as the quintessential album that caused the second wave to begin, catapult Mayhem into the spotlight, and cause black metal as a whole to explode in popularity around the world.

So what we have here is Mayhem's very first piece of known recorded material. Penned Pure Fucking Armageddon, it's aptly named because the contents within this demo are pure fucking torture to the soul. But not necessarily in a good way.

Eight tracks of pure auditory vomit are what make up the material herein, a two-sided cassette tape with five tracks on one side ("Side Fuck") and four tracks on the other ("Side Off"). As was mentioned earlier, this is a demo, so don't expect high production values. No professional audio equipment, no upscale mixing techniques, no special tricks up the sleeve; no, this is pure rawness, done with no respect for the conventional, as was the intention. However, unlike other well-known early albums or demos from various black metal bands like Bathory, Venom, Darkthrone, or Behemoth, whose material is raw as hell, but still manages to be listenable, that is not the case with Pure Fucking Armageddon here. This is some of the most badly produced, disgustingly horrendous, piss poor quality recording you'll ever hear in your entire life when it comes to a demo. Perhaps I should be thankful this this is only 27 minutes long. Any longer and it would've led to mass ear penetration with very sharp objects.

I want to start off with the vocals. Are there even lyrics? You know, the quality is so abysmal, I could hardly tell. Apparently, there are lyrics present, but good luck trying to make them out at all. They may as well not even be there. I don't know if this was because Necrobutcher was just that atrocious of a vocalist, or the microphone they were using was that cheap, or if it was mixed for absolute shit. I believe it was all three. The vocalist doesn't even sound like he's there. In all honesty, those muffled gurgles that are buried behind the equally as upended guitars don't even sound like the vocalist. I truly thought it was the bass rumblings or some kind of weird computerized effect. Everything sounds like total garbage. From the vocals, to the guitar sound (by the way, if you can look past the unbearable sound, Euronymous actually pulls out some pretty solid riffs here and there), to the bass that is virtually nonexistent, to the sloppy as hell pounding of the drums, it's not pleasant to listen to for very long if you like your black metal with a little bit of clarity, even if it's something really raw like Bathory or Black Metal or Under a Funeral Moon or Endless Damnation or even the later EP Deathcrush.

What can I say about the songs? Not much. They all sound identical if you're not paying attention. To be 100% fair to this demo, the best song on this thing is "Ghoul" from Side Fuck. The song has a great frantic grooving pace with a set of riffs that are the most memorable you'll ever get from this thing, and pounding drums and double bass that shows the energy and strength Manheim brought to the band the time he was with them. Their cover of Venom's classic song "Black Metal" is awful, just plain awful (subtitled the "Total Death version" here and is essentially a sped up instrumental version of it). The drums are so ear piercingly loud that they wind up drowning out everything else. Don't bother trying to listen to it. "Voice of a Tortured Skull" is also admittedly pretty good, too. It could've been something if the production didn't kill whatever listenable qualities this thing had since apparently it was recorded on a budget of one dollar and in someone's dusty, unused utility closet. I can't say anything about the other tracks on Side Fuck or anything on Side Off. They're all forgettable, unremarkable, and just plain torment to the ears.

It's a good thing that when I was convinced to try Mayhem out for myself, I started with De Mysteriis. If I started with this, I would just as quickly wrote them off and, retroactively, all demos off. Thankfully, I didn't. This demo is of the recording quality of any album by a band like Ildjarn. However, unlike Ildjarn, there's actually variation with the riffs and Mayhem actually managed to progress and improve their sound for the better while still managing to maintain the rawness and ferocity they were, and still are, known for to this day. Unless you've got a huge boner for history and are curious to discover an important piece of black metal history, avoid this thing.

Yeah, skip this one - 0%

BlackMetal213, December 19th, 2016

When it comes to Mayhem, I consider their essential releases to be the "Deathcrush" EP, "Live in Leipzig, "De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas", and the "Out from the Dark" demo. These four recordings show the band's raw early sound, one of their most controversial shows with Dead, their first full-length, and the final studio recordings with Dead, respectively. "Pure Fucking Armageddon" was the band's first demo from 1986. Here, we see some songs that would eventually be redone in a live setting or demoed studio tracks. Unfortunately, this demo does NOT do Mayhem any justice whatsoever in establishing them as one of the driving forces behind the Norwegian black metal movement. This sucks, bad.

I am well aware that production in black metal at the time (well, mainly in the early 1990s) was essentially supposed to be raw and lo-fi. Even bands such as Hellhammer and Bathory that were already releasing black metal records around this time had far better production in terms of the music actually being listenable. It's raw but sounds good for the actual music. Such is not the case here. The guitars sound completely messy and seem to lack rhythm or any type of musical coherence because of this. I know Euronymous was a great guitarist, regardless of him being a decent human being or not. I feel that even he was cheated on this demo due to the production. The two songs from this demo that were not reworked in some fashion are "Ghoul" and "Voice of a Tortured Skull", the latter being a somewhat interesting instrumental intro that still manages to sound like complete butt. It could have sounded far better than it does here. Speaking on behalf of "Ghoul", I know this song is actually very good. Carpathian Forest did a cover of this song for their "Morbid Fascination of Death" album and managed to make it sound absolutely amazing. It's very sad when another band can make your song sound better than you.

While I have listened to this entire demo, it was not something I could do in one setting. It is so horrendous, I had to split up my listening into intervals and go from there. There are apparently vocals here that are (rumored to be) handled by both Euronymous and Necrobutcher, Euronymous alone, OR Necrobutcher alone. Sources tend to vary on this topic. Either way, the vocals here, which are 100% distorted and buried, are horrible as well. They are completely incoherent and detract greatly from anything else that is going on here. There are no redeeming qualities in terms of vocals, or as we've noticed, any of the other instruments.

Such was the case with the classic "Deathcrush" EP, Manheim handled drum duties here. Hellhammer was not yet in the picture. I would say Manheim is a fairly competent drummer, at least on that EP. Here, his timing seems to be very off and the drums are played very sloppily. It's kind of hard to really tell most times, though, because the music lacks coherence most of the time as it is. The bass seems to be a bit prominent here which usually, I'd enjoy quite a bit. Necrobutcher is a very competent bassist and he's made himself known throughout Mayhem's career. Unfortunately, while you can hear the bass a bit and it takes over occasionally, it is very distorted and messy. Much like every other instrument here.

Really, after listening to this demo, and hardly being able to even do so, I can say there really is no value whatsoever here. Sure, it may be the first overall release ("Deathcrush" being the first proper) by any band in the Norwegian black metal scene, but it is not essential whatsoever and fails to bring any musical value to the table. I thought maybe when the instrumental rehearsal version of "Ghoul" came on during the demo's latter half, thing would look up. Unfortunately, these instrumental rehearsals are still far too messy and incoherent. They remain to be the better side of the demo but still suck ass and hold little to no listening value. Seriously, just avoid this. I am aware it was Mayhem's first release and maybe holds historical value of some sort, but that doesn't matter to me if the music sucks.

Pure Fucking Eh. - 50%

MRmehman, January 7th, 2016

People generally fall into one of two rival nations with this demo. One camp thinks PFA is "kvlt as svit" and love it, lo-fi quality and all. The other camp hates the thing. Personally, I think the album is more outdated than straight up bad and still has enough merit for any Mayhem fan who hasn't heard it to go and track a bootleg down - or the real thing if you have the money to waste.

To address the first thing everyone notices when they throw the thing in, this album sounds like you've stuffed your speakers with cotton wool. This both helps and hinders the demo in varying ways. The better sections are haunting. The intro for example is really helped out by the production and other tracks have weaved it into their atmosphere. At other times, it just sounds like no one knew what they were doing, which was probably the case in most places. That turns a lot of people off, but as a lover of bad production, I find myself strangely drawn to it. Even at it's worst, the demo never gets as bad as the Burzum demos do and that's always a plus.

The "Fuck" side is what you'd expect, E. coli raw black metal. If you've dropped "Deathcrush" into your toilet before, you know how this side sounds. The real standout is the title track "Pure Fucking Armageddon". It's messy, loud start is only overshadowed by Euronymous great riff work. It's a track that's stayed relevant in Mayhem's discography for over 30 years. In fact, most of the songs on this demo are really well written, they may lack the sorrow and cold harshness the band would pick up with later releases but tracks like "Carnage" have a fittingly violent B-movie feel to them that fits the satanic thrash metal approach of the demo. Oddly enough, the excellence of the song writing creates a little bit of a problem I'll talk about later.

I'd say I like the "Off" side a little more. The tracks have more energy to them, there's no vocals and, weirdly enough, the production and mixing is better. There isn't a whole lot to say on it, it's just Mayhem getting ready and sounding great. If you just want to hear what a pre-Dead Mayhem sound like and want to headbang a little to some killer riffs, I'd skip the fuck and go straight to off.

Another highlight is the individual performances. When he isn't trying to swallow the microphone, Euronymous is at his peak with one of the best guitar tones he's ever had. When you can hear him, Necrobutcher is also on the ball. He didn't blow me away like he did on say, "Live in Leipzig", but he works off Euronymous really well and certainly gives his two cent to the wall of noise. Manheim is a drummer I've never thought was all that good. I could rant about the guy all day but here he's actually pretty good. Unlike on other releases, he can keep a basic rhythm and his kick is nice and meaty. The vocals are a different story however. To put it in the bluntest way possible, they suck. They're just an incomprehensible afterthought that drag everything down a notch.

Mixed in with these classics, PFA has a big stinker. "Black Metal (Total Death Version)" is garbage, almost unlistenable crap that goes nowhere and doesn't resemble Venom's classic at all, it's exclusion is another reason why I recommend the "Off" side. "Ghoul" is another track I don't care for at all, the drums and laughably bad vocals completely kill what should have been killer. I presume that Manheim found a killer tape of some African drums and decided to throw (forcefully inject) them in there for whatever reason. If all I can think about while listening to your Norwegian black metal song about a flesh-eating creature of the night is the sunny plains of Kenya, you failed as a musician.

The achilles heel of "Pure Fucking Armageddon" though isn't a bad track or it's muffled recording quality, it's that these songs were so great the band have recorded WAY better versions of them on other albums. "Carnage" is a dime a dozen as far as alternate versions go, as is "Pure Fucking Armageddon". Even "Ghoul" has a handful of re-recordings, all of which are tighter than the one featured here. That's this album's biggest problem, the band outgrew this demo and no matter how much I like most of these tracks, there are way better versions out there of them.

To finish, this demo is alright. If you already like Mayhem and want to see where they came from, you'll enjoy it as a work of it's time. If you're just getting into black metal, I'd recommend staying away till you've heard the rest of Mayhem's "Euro-days".

Pure Fucking Nonsense. - 0%

Napalm_Satan, September 23rd, 2015
Written based on this version: 1986, Cassette, Funny Farm (Limited edition)

I love Mayhem, I really do. As far as second wave black metal goes, they are possibly the only band that has done no wrong. De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas was my first black metal album, forever ensnaring me into the darkened musical caverns from which it came. However, this is just crap. This is a release which is absolutely pointless today, and would have served little purpose back in 1986. It may have heralded the beginning of metal's most infamous of all regional scenes, and ushered in a new wave of black metal, but even then this was supplanted completely within a year.

I think this is supposed to be some form of black metal, or indeed music? I really can't tell, because the production is fucking abysmal, even by the standards of a late 80's second wave demo. Everything is smothered in distortion, resulting in a ludicrously loud crackling every time some sort of noise is made. In addition, the mix is completely off, to the point where only the drums are kind of audible, while the guitars and vocals are drowned out completely. Even worse is that the whole thing is very quiet, meaning hearing anything is a challenge unless the sound is turned up very high. If I have to turn up my sound to that extent to hear some music... then the production is an utter failure.

I can't really discern too much from the auditory fits of nonsense that plague this, performance wise. There is this loud, highly repetitious thudding that is most likely some drums being hit. Behind it is some quiet rumbling that sound a bit like guitars, and behind those is some faint crackling that could probably be some sort of black metal rasp. From what I can tell, the drumming is extremely basic in nature, though it doesn't sound like blasting in the vein of 'Funeral Fog' or 'I Am Thy Labyrinth', to be honest. Even if it was, the blasting can't be heard, so they may as well have never happened. The guitar riffs are just as repetitive, and while this is fine on Deathcrush or even this band's debut, the tone here is so bad that the riffs become outright annoying to listen to. I can't even comment on the vocals, as I can't here enough of them to make a judgement. They are there, so hats off, I guess.

Songwriting is never too much of an issue with black metal, and the songwriting here is actually quite good, in this sense. It features the same primitive, repetitive style that is heard on this band's '87 demo and debut, as well as the likes of Transilvanian Hunger. It is the sort that allows the songs to develop atmospherically rather than instrumentally. Unfortunately, it is all for naught, because the music presented here sounds terrible.

This doesn't even have the virtue of any tracks exclusive to this demo. Every track here, barring 'Ghoul' and the intro 'Voice of a Tortured Skull' has been re-recorded at some point with significantly better production and much tighter performances. The intro sounds like crap, and doesn't do a whole lot to conjure up any atmosphere, and 'Ghoul' sounds like anything else here - over-distorted, incomprehensible, incoherent rubbish. This release had a little bit of point back in '86, but now is completely useless, save for one iota of historical value.

I know that this sort of raw and 'kvlt' production, so to speak, is considered the norm in black metal. And that is fine, I get the appeal. Hell, it is what makes black metal seem so hostile and desolate in atmosphere, but there is a limit to this effect. When the production obfuscates the songs to the point where they could be passed off as a recent Sloth demo, as in, pure noise, then it doesn't give that atmosphere. It just sounds rubbish, and regardless of what the band were playing, that is irrelevant. The sound produced in the end is what is important (for instance, who cares if the drummer blasts when you can't fucking here it!), and that is where this demo flops. This thing also proves that once again, production goes a long way, even on a demo tape of this nature. Don't bother with this; the historical significance alone is not enough to pick up such an abysmal and pointless demo by a great band. Go and get Deathcrush, which is this formula done right, to hear Mayhem at their rawest.

Pure Fucking Ear-Rape - 1%

Thrashterpiece86, January 7th, 2014

Hey, kids! Ever wondered what "Deathcrush" would sound like if you threw a cassette of it into a clogged toilet, let it sit for a few days, took it out, dried it next to an open fire, took a piss on it, then played it back at half speed while wiggling your finger on the play button? Now I'm not sure how that would sound either, but my guess is......A LOT BETTER THAN THIS FUCKING SHIT!!!!!!

Now before I tear this album a new hole, I'd like to address all of the butthurt fans crying out in sorrow, "but Thrashterpiece! It's a demo! It's not supposed to sound good, it's supposed to sound br00tal and kvlt!" Bull-fucking-SHIT! Almost every other demo I've heard in my entire tenure as a metal fan sounds 9,000+ times better than this. Sure, they usually sound like they were recorded in a fucking garage, but at least you could still hear what was going on. Not even Hellhammer's early 80s demos sounded this bad. Fucking hell, even full-lengths from bands like Bathory, Napalm Death, S.O.B., Cryptic Slaughter, Wehrmacht, or any number of 90s black metal bands are albums that are SUPPOSED to sound like ugly, mindless noise and all have infinitely better production quality than this hunk of horse shit.

But you see, those bands can get away with it because they use this so-called "mindless noise" to their advantage; they use the sub-par production value to give their albums a certain atmosphere, whether it be dark and foreboding or brutal and in-your-face. But there's none of that to be found here. Not a single ounce of atmosphere or charm to be found anywhere on this demo. Nope. None. Nada. Zip. Zilch. A big, fat, fucking goose egg.

Now, this would usually be the part where I talk about the band members' performances, but what's the point when the whole demo just sounds like me letting out a nasty, wet fart after eating too much Thai food? Bottom line, every member of the band sounds drunk and/or high on paint thinner; the guitar sounds like ass, the drums sound like shit, the bass sounds like piss, the vocals.....WHAT FUCKING VOCALS? That's pretty much all you need to know.

In terms of songs, however, I will give this demo ONE iota of credit (yes, this is where the 1% comes from) - while the whole thing pretty much meshes together into 30 minutes of eardrum violation, if you close your eyes and concentrate very, very, VERY carefully, you might be able to kinda-sorta-not-really recognize a few actual SONGS buried beneath the muck. Yes, they are most definitely "songs"............I think.

It honestly wouldn't surprise me if this demo just turned out to be an epic troll, like if Euronymous or some other member of the band recorded their cat walking across a guitar and then tried passing it off as the most "kvlt as fvck" demo ever recorded. If anyone wants to hear Mayhem at their rawest and most brutal without crossing over into shit-tier territory, stick with "Deathcrush." Sure, that album is still fast, sloppy, and poorly produced, but it wins by default simply because the songs sound like actual SONGS rather than someone throwing their guitar on the floor and recording the feedback with a handheld tape recorder.

C'mon, guys, you KNOW this is crap - 5%

The_Ghoul, July 2nd, 2012

I am a Mayhem fan. At one glorious point in my life, I had in my possession every studio album Mayhem made, every live album, and several bootlegs as well. I know my fukken Mayhem.

But I can't see how anybody could feasibly rate this any higher than 25 or 30 percent. I don't know how anybody could logically think of this as an interesting side note. It makes me ashamed to say that I'm a Mayhem fan when it's clear some fans will eat up whatever shit the band made when they were young and didn't know shit about making a demo or playing the instruments right. I mean, where to begin? For starters, there is really not a whole lot of material here. There's a pointless intro (sounds like shit, does nothing for the demo), a half-assed cover of Black Metal, and 3 original songs, all three of which are played sloppily and it is apparent that every damn corner was cut in the production of this. Frankly, since Pure Fucking Armageddon (the song) appears in damn near every live album Mayhem made, as well as the Deathcrush MCD, there's literally NOTHING you would gain by listening to the version here. The production completely distorts the guitars and bass beyond recognition, and the drums sound like pots and pans, whilst all this is recorded from a tape deck. Carnage, as well, appears on many Mayhem live albums where it is performed much more competently and convincingly, and there is little reason to hear this version of Carnage -- you can't discern anything here, vocals included -- so the only remaining reason to even listen to this AT ALL, is Ghoul. And even still, it's not much to listen to.

Mayhem would end up becoming legends, but this is some real crap right here. Honestly, it's almost to the point where I'd rate a blank tape with a fart at the end higher than this. It's not kvlt, it's just a crap demo recorded in someone's garage with a tape deck by a band who needed quite a few more rehearsals.


prometeus, February 19th, 2012

Mayhem's debut record is a result of the underground scene creating many death/thrash metal bands. In 1986, while thrash metal was reaching Top 40 on Billboard, death metal, grindcore, hardcore bands appeared like mushrooms after the rain. The First Wave of Black Metal began to decline, bands such as Venom, Bathory and Celtic Frost haven't really been able to define this new genre. But, while image wise, Mayhem could incorporate elements from these bands, music-wise, Slayer and Kreator were the more sinister bands out there.

Indeed, Kreator and Slayer were the main influences of this new outfit, but, sadly, no originality came from these guys. Or, at least, nothing original and memorable... Pure Fucking Armageddon, Carnage and Ghoul are all repetitive riff-wise and have flashy, wining solos with crappy gore lyrics and crappier English and fast and sloppy drumming. The cover song is a joke, I can barely hear something and it's too fast played.

The instrumentals are quite the same as the tracks with vocals, except for the track called "Mayhem", which is just a recording with the band waisting time. I think this is something like "Listen to Nicko McBrain" from Iron Maiden, just without any sense of humour (if you don't know Norwegian).

Voice of a Tortured Skull is disturbing and the band tries something dark/ambient/drone music, but I'm not sure; hell, I don't think they are too. To bad they haven't exploited this style of composing, because they would have made some discoveries!

Aside from the terrible production, copycat riffs, shitty instrumentals and crappy vocals, I can not say this is essential. But this release does deserve some points for enthusiasm and the energy displayed...


Loloj, August 31st, 2011

Mayhem. Any self-respecting black metal fan knows the story of Mayhem. The whole deal with Dead's suicide and Euronymous's murder, but I know a lot of Mayhem fans who haven't heard this demo. This is Mayhem humble beginnings.

I'm going to tell it like it is. If you don't feel the crappy quality vibe that a lot of black metal bands use, this demo will absolutely suck to you. It's probably the worst quality I've ever heard, except maybe for some Ulver stuff. This quality absolutely sucks. And I can see why it would turn some people off. On the other hand, I have no problem with horrible quality, so I appreciate this demo. It truly is pure fucking armageddon. You can make out the riffs and the pounding of the snare in the background. On this demo, the songs sound a lot alike because of the sound quality and have the same basic formula. The riffs are actually pretty decent, although crazy primitive. Unfortunately, the drums are basically just pounding the snare and the bass drum the whole time. As for Euronymous's vocals.. they aren't great, but you can't hear them unless you try, so it's nothing to worry about. The bass is also very prominent and good.

This demo has some awesome riffs and songs that will be remembered. The sound quality is terrible, and they sound like a bunch of pissed off teenagers, but it's a solid demo with some good guitar and bass work. If you can get ahold of it, I would recommend it, but don't go searching for hours.

Mayhem - Pure Fucking Armageddon - 55%

mentalselfmutilation, April 3rd, 2008

Here we are 22 years following this release. Black metal has defined itself as an established genre of the extreme metal movement. 22 years later this band is hailed as one of the biggest influences ever to come from that genre. 22 years ago this was one of the harshest rawest most brutal sounding demo tapes ever, but now we consider this recording to be very poorly done and looked at with indifference or with disgust because of its nature. This is mayhem in its purest form. This is what happens when some kids in high school (or fresh out of high school) get together and start playing the most extreme stuff they can.

Musically, I have to admit, that the title is extremely accurate. This record truly is Pure Fucking Armageddon by its own definition. The entire recording both in terms of production and music talent is chaotic to the most extreme points. You can tell this recording was probably more of a band rehearsal of 3 kids who loved bands such as Venom, Hellhammer, and Celtic Frost during the mid 80s, and you can hear a lot of the influence in the moments you can decipher the guitars and bass in this low end recording. Euronymous' vocals get a lot of negative feedback, and I must agree that they're far from the greatest vocals I've ever heard. He's definitely not as great as messiah and maniac would eventually be, but his vocals definitely fit the atmosphere in the sound.

The first side "Fuck" is in short a demo that was less widely released and acknowledged by the band. The recording is raw and brutal before these terms became acknowledged by mainstream metal and became another ambiguous label to define the scene itself. Everything on the Fuck side is pretty well done and really what makes the recording worth listening to. The songs eventually would become songs that still define Mayhem to this day 4 albums, 2 EPs, and plenty of live/rehearsal/rereleased material uncovered over the years that we've come across in later years. Even in their infancy they were quite tight despite the poor low end rumbling production that makes it indecipherable during some points.

The second side "Off" is a rehearsal track. It's quite obvious right when you reach the Mayhem track, it's nothing more than your average high schoolers putting together a rehearsal afterschool. Some will praise this like everything else because it's mayhem, though years later something like this would be considered downright laughable, irritating, and probably be a primary reason the band would never be acknowledged, but then again it's debatable whether or not Mayhem would be as well known, notorious and popular today had it not been for Dead's Suicide, Euronymous' murder, Helvete, and the live shows the band put on in their prime days a few years following this recording. The rehearsals sound quality is a bit easier to decipher and without the overdriven vocals over head you can make out a lot more which sounds pretty well done and very listenable.

There are many flaws with this recording of course, but it's a demo. It's worth checking out though many won't appreciate it. IF you listen to plenty of old tapes before and after though you begin to appreciate it more. This release is definitely a good indication of the underground back during the mid 80s. Could it have been better in both recording and execution? Of course, but given what they had at the time as a band, it's still definitely a well put together demo. It clearly defines what it means to be raw, harsh, and every other term and in a way is a masterpiece in itself in that aspect and is defines and paves a path that would forge for extreme metal in the next few years to come. If only we can go back 22 years ago in order to once again appreciate this often underrated landmark demo recording for what it was instead of focusing on what it is in comparison to now decades later.

Mayhem's start. FUCK YEAH! - 87%

Bezerko, August 10th, 2007

Yes, the production (or lack of) is horrific. Yes, the playing probably isn’t all that great. Yes, Euronymous was an absolutely horrible vocalist. Does any of this matter? To some, yes it will matter, but the trick to this demo is to look past the production (and Euro’s vocals), and at the music itself. Which, for it’s tim,e is amazingly aggressive and showcases some of the best Mayhem riffs in their history. Not only that, but two out of the three full songs on here (excluding the intro and Mayhem) still appear in Mayhem’s live set. What Euronymous, Necrobutcher and Messiah made here is an absolute classic, and one of the first releases from the just starting Norwegian black metal scene. It actually contains two separate recordings, the Voice of a Tortured Skull demo (tracks 1-5) and a rehearsal afterwards (tracks 6-9). It’s kind of ironic that the rehearsal sounds clearer (and better) than the actual proper recordings.

The sound: Well, this is one of the worst part of the demo. Considering I can get clearer sound out of the microphone on my mp3 player, it’s pretty damn bad. It’s very muffled and very bass heavy. Depending on your point of view, you’ll either discard the entire demo for this or you’ll accept it as it is and get on listening. Once you’ve gotten used to it, it really isn’t that bad, I just wouldn’t compare it to Grand Declaration of War anytime soon. To help, listen to the final four tracks off of Dawn of the Black Hearts. Then you’ll think the recording quality on this is fantastic.

The Vocals: Now these are just horrible. Luckily they are only on the first five tracks. It’s Euronymous on vocals, and let me just say, I’m glad Maniac and Messiah did Deathcrush, because Euronymous can’t sing for shit. They are mainly deep grunts akin to something found in brutal death metal rather than black metal and they are made even worse by the fact that they are extremely muffled. In the end, they just sound like a big hunk of bass. The lyrics are horrible as well, don’t expect anything in that department.

Guitar: Now this is really were this Pure Fucking Armageddon shines! The riffs on this album are fantastic. Besides that repetitive but undeniably awesome riff that forms the main part of Ghoul, we have the legendary Pure Fucking Armageddon riff as well as Mayhem’s earliest solos in Carnage. Sometimes the guitar get buried beneath everything else, which is a shame, but they are still audible barring a few select parts.

Bass: Another shining part of Pure Fucking Armageddon is Necrobuther’s bass. It has a really heavy and deep tone to it and carries the whole demo on its back. If the bass was not present, there may have been some more room for the guitars, but then the demo would have been lacking some serious grunt, particularly on Ghoul. At times it acts more like a rhythm guitar, playing the riffs while Euronymous solos during Carnage. At other times it just beefs up the sound of the guitar.

Drums: There really isn’t much to say about the Messiah’s drumming on this album. They are very basic, and no where up to the standards that Hellhammer would later set, but they still fit Pure Fucking Armageddon perfectly. They’re simple and rough, but that’s the way they were meant to be! Actually the drums are at a very good level in the mix and don’t drown out anything as they did on Deathcrush.

Side Fuck: The demo starts off with a short intro by the name of Voice of a Tortured Skull. This intro is probably one of my favourite intros of all time. It has a very evil atmosphere and at times invokes thoughts and images of torture. Following Voice of a Tortured Skull is the classic Carnage. While in its earliest form here, the song has remained virtually unchanged to this day. It features the first Mayhem solos, as well as some solid riffs and bass work. After Carnage comes Ghoul, one of my favourite Mayhem songs of all time. It’s so simple, yet it sounds absolutely brilliant. The riffs are awesome and it’s really a shame that the song is basically forgotten, being left out of the live set. If you have more craving for this song, as I did, I would recommend finding Carpathian Forest’s cover. Euronymous never stopped telling everyone who would listen how great Venom was, and here Venom’s Black Metal song is covered as a “Total Death version”. Basically its just a really fast version. It has no vocals (yay!), but sometimes it’s so fast the song becomes a big sludge, and you cannot tell when the next part of the song starts. Then the title track, Pure Fucking Armageddon. This song, along with Freezing Moon has come to define Euronymous era Mayhem. After the brief whirlwind of chaos, the listener is treated to “The Riff”. It’s the greatest riff of Mayhem’s career and one of the best riffs in metal history. Here Pure Fucking Armageddon is played at the right speed. On Deathcrush it was played too fast, and lost some of it’\s greatness. This was of course corrected on Live In Leipzig, restoring the song to it’s former power.

Side Off: Now we move on to the rehearsal side of Pure Fucking Armageddon. First up is a brief track called Mayhem, featuring the band mucking around a bit with some random drum bashing. It moves on to increasingly fast drumming with some screaming accompanying it. The final three songs are just different versions of Ghoul, Pure Fucking Armageddon and Carnage (in that order). The sound is a bit clearer, letting the guitar really raise its head and show the power of Euro’s riffs and Necro’s bass lines. Oh, and there’s no vocals, which is a huge bonus.

Pure Fucking Armageddon may not the best sounding demo in the world, but it’s one of the greatest and most influential. This demo was the start of Norwegian black metal, even if it’s closer to thrash and early death metal. Underneath the crap sound lies some awesome songs and some even better riffs. Get past that sound and I’ll guarantee you’ll love this demo. This is metal in it’s rawest form and it’s a shame that modern bands cannot create songs of this calibre anymore. Don’t pay for this though (unless it’s the limited vinyl version, they’re worth a bit of money), download it as you may not be able to handle the sound. Unfortunately Mayhem no longer offers it as a free download off of their website, so you’ll have to dig around for it. This is black metal history, and if you’re going to get any of the old demos from the big Norwegian black metal bands of the early 90’s, get this one.

So much potential, such sad quality - 60%

Zoanthropic_Paranoia, February 20th, 2007

Mayhem is the most prolific Black Metal band in the genre's history. They’ve survived several shakes up in their formation and released quite a few successful albums and evolved their sound beyond what anyone could really imagine, but it all comes back to the bands first demo tape, "Pure Fucking Armageddon". “Pure Fucking Armageddon” has the potential to be the definitive demo album for a black metal band but it falls short on so many levels that overall it's a huge disappointment.

The only positive thing at all about this demo is the fact that it somehow managed to land Mayhem a deal to record; otherwise "Pure Fucking Armageddon" is a flop. In fact it may very well be one of the worst demo tapes in metal history.

To be honest it sounds like this demo was recorded in a moldy bathroom and then defecated upon by a rabid dog before being "mastered" and sent out to the world for listening consumption; the vocals are almost absent spare a few noticeable screeches and wails because of the volume difference in the audio channels; the guitars sound hellish (not in a good way either), and the drums seem to overtake everything at some points. If there was a bass on this demo I had no idea because I couldn't even hear it, I'll assume there was but I cannot find any real evidence to support it.

You may be thinking, "if this is such a bad demo why give it a 60?" The answer is quite simple: when there are some actual moments of clarity and you are able to hear what the hell is going on in terms of the music its great. You can hear the brutality and veracity of Mayhem in their earliest days. That's why I give this demo a 60.

As aforementioned, "Pure Fucking Armageddon" has so much potential to become the quintessential Black Metal demo album but it falls tragically short because of its horrible recording quality. The saddest lines a reviewer ever has to write are these: "what could've been". So if you have this demo and listen to it, weep and just think as to "what could've been".

The demo-tapes from hell part 1 - 15%

MetalReaper, November 19th, 2004

This early Mayhem-demo compilation is probably the worst demo-tape I have ever heard! This contains both Pure Fucking Armageddon-rehearsal tape and Voice of a tortured skull-demo tape compiled on the sides "Fuck" and "Off"... The general sound on both demos are terrible and makes Deathcrush sound like a technical masterpiece. Vocals are horrible, and they are closer to death/grind vocals than black metal vocals.

What about the line-up? The only member who plays in Mayhem today is the bassist Necrobutcher. We all know what happened to Euronymous, who is this time also handling vocals. There is this guy called Manheim on drums, so no Hellhammer yet.

The "intro" piece in the start of "Voice of tortured skull" is awful. I am not sure is it guitar or some malfunction on the tape. Whatever it is, it gives me a fuckin' headache! There are some screams and various other voices through the song. On "Carnage" there aren't so many creaks as on the first song, but the vocals are even worse. They sound like that they are recorded with rags in the mouth and then scratched the tape with the screwdriver. Only the lowest groans are on the track. "Ghoul" is a bit clearer but there are no improvements on the vocals. Mayhem knew what they were doing. True Black Metal. And what bands created it? Venom perhaps? That is why Mayhem makes "the tribute to the gods" by covering Venom. They chosen "Black Metal". Perfect song, Mayhem knew it. When I first heard this, I did not even recognized it as a Venom song. Mayhem boosts it's speed to the maximum, and there are no vocals on the track (Yeah!), but the pauses on the track sound like the band stops playing, but then suddenly starts again. The sound is a bit clearer on this track, but this pleasure is very short. The title track returns to the pure noise with suffocated vocals. It's the last song on the "Fuck"-side.

The "Off"-side, or actually "Pure Fucking Armageddon" is slightly better than the "Fuck"-side. Sounds are better and there are no vocals! At least I did not heard them. "Mayhem" is an odd individual to be an intro track. There are some strange noises including various voices created by drums and some kind of talking. It seems that these guys are having a good time. Maybe drunken sincerity? It ends suddenly and the compilation's better version of "Ghoul" starts. Now you can even have some kind of sense about it! "Ghoul" is not a bad song, it just sounded like one on the "Fuck"-side. "Pure fucking Armageddon" and "Carnage" are both here with the better versions. But it does not mean that they still sound well. They still sound shitty.

This demo is available for download at their official web site. No-one should not buy this! It's only a waste of money. If you can even find this...

What a mess! - 45%

MorbidAtheist666, August 7th, 2004

This demo has sloppy written all over it! It is a mess, yes indeed. Oh my goodness, this demo is just horrible, plain and simple. Well, Mayhem definitely improved by the time they released Deathcrush. This demo is mostly comprised of instrumentals.

The only great thing about this demo is the Venom cover, Black Metal. No vocals on here. It sounds pretty sloppy. But it's pretty cool though.

Oh man, this demo is bad. I'm not going to lie. I was expecting it to have some substance. It really doesn't. It's almost inaudible to listen to. I do like track #6, Mayhem. It's not really a song. I hear the band members fooling around and shit. Then the drummer just randomly beats on the drums. There's no guitar to be found on this track. This is a very funny track to listen to, I enjoy it.

Are there vocals on here? Or is it the guitar? I don't know, but if there are vocals. The vocals are inaudible as fuck! This demo is just a bunch of noise. It was poorly made.

I really think Mayhem should of put a lot more effort into this one. It's a horrible recording, yes. But Mayhem was a relatively new band at the time. I'll give them credit for making a demo. There's really nothing special on this demo.