Monday 20 February 2012

Mayhem - Mysteries Dom Sathanas (1994)

One of the most controversial albums of all time. An album long in the making and where the bassist murdered the guitarist and cemented Norway's place in the history books as the birthplace of black metal.

Removing all the controversies and the front page headlines, what we got here is an album of songs.

Most of these songs was several years old before they got recorded for this album. To a large extent, this album is more a compilation album than a fresh studio album. The music is also pretty primitive and rooted in old Venom, Bathory and Celtic Frost. A sound that Mayhem claimed themselves. This was also Mayhem's second studio album. Deathcrush, their debut album, had become a cult classic and still is. On the shoulders of that album, Mysteries Dom Sathanas was created.

The musicianship is excellent here. The bass is anonymous. But Eystein's guitars is really superb. But the drummer Hellhammer is the star on this album. His reputation as perhaps the best drummer in Norway very much justified by this album. The monk chanting vocals is strange to say at least. But they fits this music.

The opening song Funeral Fog is very primitive and a bit of an album filler. The second track Freezing Moon is rightly regarded as a black metal classic. It is a brilliant song in it's own right. From there on, the music becomes surprisingly lush and deviates a lot from the Venom/Bathory formula. It is still full frontal attack black  metal, but there is also a lot of double layered guitar harmonies on the songs. The best song on the album is the title track. Check out the guitar harmonies in the middle part and Hellhammer's drum patterns. Excellent stuff.

When the dust has settled, this is a surprisingly excellent album. Bands like Emperor and other more modern black  metal bands has probably released better albums than this. But for me; this album is the ultimate black metal album and the only black metal album I find interesting enough to stay in my living room.

5 stars

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