|Classic Review: Mayhem - De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas|
|De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas|
Label: Century Media
Year released: 1994
Genre: Black Metal
Review online: October 22, 2004
Reviewed by: Sargon the Terrible
for:De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas
What? No review of this album on the site? We can't have that now can we? If you are not a fan of Black Metal, then you probably don't care about this album, but for fans of the genre, it is a tremendously important release. No BM collection is complete without it, just as no site can be complete without a review of it. This was Mayhem's first full-length album, and already the drama that will forever plague this band was tearing it apart. Vocalist Dead was, er, dead. And it would not be long before bassist Varg would be stabbing Euronymous 85 times in the back in 'self-defense'. So this is the only 'real' Mayhem studio album, as by the time they squeezed out "Grand Declaration Of War" 6 years later they were an almost completely different band.
So to many, this is Mayhem's great work, their one shining black star of evil. (Unless you count "Live In Leipzig") and as fits the blackest of Black Metal bands, it is almost every inch a classic. Raw, evil, fast and malevolent. The secret ingredient here was Euronymous and his unique guitar wizardry – the man was just a singular and ingenious riff-writer who packed every tune here with cool and evil licks – not to mention leads. The production is juuuust right, with enough clarity to hear all the instruments (underground BM bands take note of how it's done) and still a muscular, rude guitar tone that very few bands have ever come close to getting right. There are just some great songs here, from the opening blare of "Funeral Fog" to the slower crawl of "Freezing Moon" and the great melodies of "Pagan Fears" and "From The Dark Past". All the songs create an atmosphere of cold, evil hatred that no other album does in quite the same way.
And then we have the vocals – ah yes, Attila. This is the real sticking point for some, as rather than the expected screeches session vocalist Attila Csihar conjures up a palette of evil muttering, barks, yowls, and reptilian grunts. I have to say no other vocalist sounds like him, that's for sure. When you first hear it you are likely to snort 'what the fuck is this?' But repeated listens confirm that Euronymous made the right choice in picking this guy to stand in for the absent Dead. Attila's painful howls fit the music perfectly and render the album instantly unique, as no other BM band has ever sounded like it. The one place I have to dock the album, however, is for the vocals on the title track – no one ever should have let this guy try to sing. On this song, and in a few other places, Csihar slips over the line between 'unique' and 'stupid-sounding'. It's just here and there, but even after many, many times listening to this album those spots still stick out as bad.
So I can't give this a perfect score, much as I would like to, and much as I love this album. Mayhem died with Euronymous before this album was even released, thus adding to the inevitable legend that has grown up to surround this band. Mayhem were not the gods fans have made them into, and who knows what they would have become even if they had not self-destructed, but this will always remain a special album to be, and to many others. Classic.
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