Mayhem have a rich and tumultuous history that began back in 1984 by guitarist Øystein Aarseth, bassist Jørn Stubberud, and drummer Kjetil Manheim. The story behind the band is so infamous that it can’t be explained in a short paragraph, but surrounds the chaotic atmosphere surrounding black metal at the time.
After more than thirty years since their inception and five records prior, we’re now offered their sixth full-length opus, ‘Daemon’.
Spiraling with a raucous of black metal chords and riotous rhythms, ‘The Dying False King’ is a frenetic ball of energy with a range of wailing screams, vicious croaks from Attila Csihar who distributes his lyrics between brief utterances and dark monologues.
Tempering the stampede, ‘Malum’ recites in Latin, with the phrase “Mors certa, hora incerta”, which translates to “death is certain, its hour is uncertain”, and reflects the attitudes of Western culture that one day we all must face our inevitable end. Switching between fast phases of dark speed metal and dissonant chords with echoing repetitions of the lyrics, it is a dark sermon.
Ratcheting up to flurries of chaotic riffs and pounding drums from Hellhammer, who manages the rifling snare hits and kick pedals with extra stamina and consistency, ‘Of Worms And Ruin# is an energetic yet effectively exciting standout in what is mostly a constant repetition of themes and instrumentation.
Redacting to familiar territory, ‘Everlasting Dying Flame’ continues the relentless assault of dark riffs, croaking utterances, and crashing cymbals that’s a concurrent theme throughout that harks back to the early days when black metal was an underground phenomenon. The whole production echoes that sentiment with a dialed back and distant position from today’s in-your-face wall of sound, but it really feels like it needs a proper gut punch of ferocity to increase the intensity of the listening experience.
Ultimately, while Mayhem are indeed pioneers of black metal, it seems on ‘Daemon’ like they don’t want to be brought into the modern world where even their line of extreme metal can come off as tame and dismissive.