Wednesday, April 27, 2016

[Throwback Reviews] MAYHEM - Esoteric Warfare

Note from the editor: this review was first published at my main blog and since I moved here I've decided to edit and repost those archived reviews once in a while just to get the database complete and give a second life to those earlier writings.

Mayhem - Esoteric Warfare (2014, Season of Mist)

Legendary Norwegian Black Metal band Mayhem is back with another game changing record for its fans. While spacing releases, their latest albums previous to Esoteric Warfare was Ordo Ad Chaos released in 2007. So, seven years have passed since they released one of the most avant-garde Black Metal records to date.

Back on Esoteric Warfare is Hellhammer (drums), the longest lasting member and except Necrobutcher (bass), who is the last founding member in the current lineup, Hellhammer has been on all their released since the suicide of Dead (vocals) in 1991, the murder of Euronymous (guitar) by Varg Vikernes (bass) and the later’s imprisonment. Since 2004, Attila Csihar has been the vocalist and front man of Mayhem giving a unique sound to their cavernous and mysterious music. He was also on the rosters after Dead left his duties and he had to fillup the vocals on the ultimate second wave of Black Metal masterpiece De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas. Music writer, Ian Christe wrote that Csihar's persence was operatic and I always compared his grasps and screams to whispers in an ice storm. On the side of guitars, the latest addition is Teloch who replaces Blasphemer with great mastery. In fact, as talented and underrated has Blasphemer was, Teloch manages to be a perfect fit in the band.

In Esoteric Warfare we have a continuation of the journey that Mayhem began with Ordo Ad Chaos. A path of highly aggressive music, with faster songs while keeping a very Mayhemian approach to Metal and progressive music. There’s a sense of anti-Symphonic and anti-melodic anthems. Creating something out of noise while staying true to their roots. It is as if they wanted to make the bridge between the albums Grand Declaration War with its electronic and dubstep and meet with the avant-garde vision of Ordo Ad Chaos. But it is also the album that makes them sound a lot more like Thorns

This is not an easy record to the acquainted with and as Grymm wrote on Angry Metal Guy, this is somewhat of a grower. Certainly, Mayhem is not a band that is repeating itself and I always get what I am asking for: surprise and being destabilized by a new album.

Since the end of the second wave, most Black Metal bands of the late 1980’s and early 1990’s have disappeared or bastardized in repetition of patterns so tired and washed up that every album and band sounds the same, Mayhem have chosen to give time and space between every release while creating a succession of harder to get into albums that demonstrate their mastery at leading the genre. For those who are into the genre I would easily state that Mayhem’s Esoteric Warfare is a near-masterpiece and time will tell if it will achieve to reach to the point to give up the near. Editing this two years after its release, I still think it is a near-masterpiece and it is a capable continuation as the band's fifth release. 


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