Reviewed: February 2020
Released: 2019, Century Media Records
Reviewer: Demitri Levantis
Mayhem, the most notorious band in black metal and, allegedly, the most notorious band in all Scandinavia. A band with a history tarnished with murder, suicide and arson – all of which I will not go into detail with because that’s not why we’re here and you probably know it already. But, despite such a dark and controversial 36 years in existence, the Norwegian fathers of black metal have returned with their sixth studio album: Daemon.
To begin with, anyone familiar with Mayhem’s discography will know they are not the kind to shy away from experimentation – something which has intrigued some fans and alienated others. So, the first thing to notice about Daemon, is it isn’t as ‘out there’ as past albums. If Grand Declaration of War was too much for your attention span – fear not.
Daemon begins with a blasting tune: ‘The Dying False King’, which is somewhat reminiscent of their De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas days. It’s like a bullet through your brain – no Dead pun intended there – and you know you’re off on a deep and evil trek into the horrors that these Nords have been putting to music for the last three decades to secure their place at the black metal head table.
As it wears on into ‘Bad Blood’ and ‘Aeon Daemonium’ you can tell the guys decided to go back to their roots a bit on this record, but if you love Mayhem’s experimenting please do not be put off. Later tracks such as ‘Of Worms and Ruins’ and ‘Invoke the Oath’ close the album with elongated blasting and progressive guitars which says Mayhem didn’t make this record to please everyone who wants them to sound the same on every album.
Speaking as a drummer, I am particularly impressed by Hellhammer’s drumming, which makes use of all his techniques both basic and advanced. The shrieking vocals of Attila Csihar drive deep into the ear drum like a power tool, and Teloch and Ghul drive on the guitars which made Mayhem a beautiful sounding institution in many extreme metal circles.
I recommend this album if you felt the last few weren’t for you and you simply cannot stop listening to De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas every day. Mayhem still pack a very strong punch.