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Classic Review: Mayhem - Wolf's Lair Abyss
Wolf's Lair Abyss

Label: Misanthropy Records
Year released: 1997
Duration: 24:40
Tracks: 5
Genre: Black Metal

Rating: 4/5

Review online: September 19, 2007
Reviewed by: Lars Christiansen
Readers Rating
Wolf's Lair Abyss

Rated 3.66/5 (73.16%) (38 Votes)

'Wolf's Lair Abyss' marked three major factors in the history of Mayhem. Not only was it the return of Maniac's wretched bile-soaked vomits into the microphone, but it was the debut recording of then new guitarist Blasphemer. However, most importantly it was the turning point for a lot of long-term fans, disgusted by the non-'trueness' of their newfound clinical precision. But I say, "fuck all that, let's get down to what makes this EP the best of the 2nd-time-around Maniac era Mayhem releases", and so let it be written, so let it be done.

Opening with a futuristic empiric synthesizer introduction which hinted of where their follow up album 'Grand Declaration of War' would further investigate, Mayhem quickly nestle steel toecap firmly between testes with 'I Am Thy Labyrinth', a whirlwind of a 'proper' opening track, featuring a sandblast of guitars upon a throne of tooth-loosening blastbeat drumming which carries through the majority of the CD. At times, Maniac effortlessly slips into his daring new oratory style of vocal work, which has an almost Tibetan monk-like sound at times, adding further dynamics to their sound as well as an unwholesome sinister vibe to the EP. The main thing about this CD however, is the quality and consistency of the tracks on offer. 'Grand Declaration of War' and 'Chimera' has their good parts, but there was too much filler on the latter and too much weird experimentation on the former. Whether this would be down to the band using some old Euronymous riffs can be questioned, but at the end of the day, who cares now that they've hit form again with 'Ordo Ad Chao'?. Anyhow, 'Wolf's Lair Abyss' ends with 'Symbols of Bloodswords', possibly one of my favorite Mayhem tracks, which guitar-wise at least, slows the pace at times, allowing the beautiful shimmering dissonance to shine through (especially in that nerve jangling riff that closes out the final minute or so of the song).

So, to those who thumb their noses at anything post-Euronymous (a lot of which who do so merely in principle to be 'kvlt'), get a fucking life or continue shivering in your candlelit hovel masturbating over your vinyl copy of 'De Mysteriis...'. Mayhem were eager to impress with their new line up here, and aurally, they came across as hungry and vitriolic as ever.

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