Album Review: Mayhem - Daemon
Genre: Black Metal
Review by Steve Jenkins
Whenever Mayhem release a new album it's always a special time, especially for me personally being such a big fan of their music. Don't get me wrong, I don't love everything that the band have made, but for the most part I find their catalogue to be worthy of praise. Mayhem's 1994 black metal classic 'De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas' will go down as one of my favourite albums of all time, and here we are 25 years later, as I am getting those feelings that I had when I first heard their iconic debut full-length.
What you hear when playing 'Daemon' is something that Mayhem are so damn good at, and that's their ability to create a sound of malice and animosity mixed with grandiose. They've always had a theatrical element to their production, and here is no different, it's a story, and from the very first song right through to the closing track you are captured and engrossed. This album is a significant step up in terms of overall sound and musicianship compared to their previous effort, 2014's 'Esoteric Warfare' which by no means was a bad album, it was very good in fact showed a tonne of promise. I think 'Daemon' is the record that we've all been waiting for Mayhem to release for the past couple of decades, as we now have each member bringing their A-game. It’s raw, chaotic, evil, horrifying, artistic, heavy and aggressive, which is everything I want in a Mayhem album.
The album opens with "The Dying False King", which is just a really well executed black metal track, with that trademark Norwegian guitar tone and powerful drumming from Hellhammer. The vocals from Attila are the best they've sounded in years, with his sick and twisted style being the perfect match for the chaos of Mayhem's music. "Agenda Ignis" is a standout track, it's intense and bludgeoning, and it also features some incredible bass guitar work from Necrobutcher. "Falsified and Hated" is an interesting one, it's definitely a Mayhem track, but it also features an eerie sample of Burzum's classic "Dunkelheit" which I haven't really heard anyone bring up yet, but I found that to be very interesting. Perhaps it's a thank you from Necrobutcher to Varg Vikernes for killing Euronymous before he got to him first? "Worthless Abominations" is another monster track, just pummeling you in the face with riffs and mayhem (pun intended) showing sheer ferocity and speed.
What Mayhem have created here is just so successful on many levels, with no shortage of ideas or captivating ways to grab your attention. Like some sort of evil wizardry, the band are excellent at creating imagery through their hellish sound, allowing your imagination to run wild. You can never process a Mayhem album in one listen, it takes quite a few and you keep on finding new and intriguing moments with each rotation. Without their impeccable musicianship, songwriting ability, and morbid vocals, Mayhem would probably be just another black metal band. But they're hone their craft so well and take it to another level, especially on this release, and it's truly something to behold.
This year has certainly been a very good year for black metal, especially underground black metal. But when one of the innovators and godfathers of the genre are still able to create a masterpiece such as 'Daemon' at this stage of their career, that's true talent. It doesn't get much more evil than this, and it's very deserving of a perfect score as everything is crafted so well. Is this their best album to date? Maybe. Is it their best album this century? Most definitely. A must have for any black metal fan.
10 out of 10.
'Daemon' is out everywhere Friday, October 25th via Century Media Records.