MAYHEM: DE MYSTERIIS DOM SATHANAS LP
(Gatefold sleeve, limited edition 180g purple vinyl)
Absolutely pivotal in the reignition of the black metal movement in the early 90s, the potential of both Euronymous and the early incarnations of Mayhem were of course cut short by the guitarist’s murder in 1993. We can be thankful, then, that the crowning achievement of the man and the band – and some would even say the entire genre – was completed shortly before his death and released the following year. It’s an opus largely driven by the man himself, yet the fact that it was vocalist Dead, who passed back in 1991, that came up with the album’s title highlights just how long it had been in gestation. De Mysteriis is then a testament to a new era of brilliance for the group, but also, in part, the culmination of the earlier Dead / Necrobutcher / Hellhammer line-up – a point underlined by the fact that half of the songs appear on Live In Liepzig, recorded back in 1990.
That earlier material includes the single-minded bombardment of ‘Pagan Fears’, ‘Buried By Time and Dust’ and ‘Funeral Fog, as well as ‘Freezing Moon’ which arguably remains the most iconic song in Mayhem’s back catalogue, its unique aura of despair still largely unparalleled within the scene. Elsewhere, Euronymous’ new composition techniques echoed the snaking discordance of Snorre Ruch’s writing style, as seen on ‘Cursed in Eternity’ and ‘From the Dark Past’, the latter going so far as to actually recycle a Thorns riff. There’s no doubt that Attila’s spirited performance is another defining factor of the record, the vocalist adopting a demented, theatrical approach, incorporating a drawling delivery and lurching creepily from screams and rasps to an almost operatic singing style shaped by his distinctive Hungarian accent.
The macabre back story and phenomenal impact would be enough to guarantee this record’s place in metal history, but even today this remains an unrivalled interpretation of the genre. Aggressive, cold, detailed, and quite unlike anything that came before or since, it is a gloomy, impenetrable and eccentric album that perfectly embodies the dark, angry and otherworldly spirit of the genre.
1. Funeral Fog
2. Freezing Moon
3. Cursed in Eternity
4. Pagan Fears
5. Life Eternal
6. From the Dark Past
7. Buried by Time and Dust
8. De Mysteriis Dom. Sathanas
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