Mayhem – Esoteric Warfare – Season of Mist

The warfare is just about to begin!

Since their album Grand Declaration of War which was recorded some 14 years ago and brought a totally new experimental sound to the fold, Mayhem has been experiencing opposite reactions from their public. Well, those were other times, when they dared to mess up with the whole Black Metal intelligentsia, and leave Black Metallers confused.

Then the detractors appeared, claiming that the Scandinavian Black Metal was dead from that day on. Of course they were totally wrong, as the sound of Mayhem predicted those days became the norm of Norwegian scene since then and to great acclaim.

Now things are not that weird anymore and internet revealed far more experimental and eerie bands than Mayhem, but they are still on the front and that is just because they have the know-how to do so.

Esoteric Warfare is another chapter of the grandiosity of the one of the greatest bands that metal ever created: Angular songwriting, the oddly voice of Atilla and their technique aligned with some of the most up to date sounds of this era and here they prove with songs like Watcher and Psywar that they are still strongly relevant to the whole extreme music scene, not just Black Metal and of course not just Scandinavian Black Metal.

When each track progresses, so this relevance is little by little brought to the fore with a brutal song like Trinity with the pure velocity and riffs that defined the whole cult which is Mayhem even with a scorched earth production, dry guitars, emotionless (yet extremely technical drum work of Hellhammer). The introduction with the famous Oppenheimer quote “I’m become death, the destroyer of the worlds” just adds some more philosophical destruction to the tune..  This album is heavy, mystical and although some 15-year-old internet kiddos insist they are not the same anymore, it’s more metal than your fave band, because Necrobutcher and his cohorts have their roots in the distant past when their detractors weren’t even born…

The progression of Esoteric Warfare is unlimited and the insanity of Pandaemon is incredibly off the wall and even though it makes perfect sense to the ears.

One more thing utterly interesting in this album is that it doesn’t matter if the song clocks in at 2:00 or 6:00 minutes, they always keep the pace and cohesive factor that otherwise their sound might infer… It’s everything seamless and still in the snail paced parts they keep the attention of the fan, as in the song Milab which is the quintessence of Mayhem’s sound nowadays.

The guitar work of Teloch (Nidingr, ex-Gorgoroth) are perfectly fitted into their unprogressive lunacy, (highly musical skill granted), with songs that resemble segues into a Wagnerian opera, and some of them work as interludes as in the track VI.SEC.: fast change of phrases may occur, so be aware.

The great intermittencies of Throne of Time are the pinnacle of what Esoteric Warfare is all about: stoppages out of the blue and the change in bizarre vocalizations of Atilla makes the whole opvs gain more and more traction.

Even the incongruities of Corpse of Care winds up making whole sense in a backdrop of broken tempos and unconventional mix.

Posthuman transcends the ordinary order of the music itself: with just their artistic ideals they manage to trespass the frontier of originality and draw a line for themselves and let me say that Hellhammer just excels himself, maybe it’s his only technique or the mix has something to do with it, but anyway, it’s a sound to sore ears…

Aion Suntelia, the virtually last song of the album and its off-beats and backbeats leaves no doubt and the corollary is that Esoteric Warfare is a step ahead of the run-of-the-mill Black Metal that is being made today: perhaps that’s the reason some so-called black sceners rebuff the larger than life influence of Mayhem in the worldwide musical scenario. It’s hard to love what one cannot understand.

Into The Lifeless (Budapest Sessions) is a digital bonus that in this case serves as a postlude.

This is another tour de force of the greatest entity that is Mayhem: sometimes underrated under their own umbrella of extreme creation, they don’t really care to destroy everything and build it up again from the ground. By the end of the day this is art: pure black metal art!

Esoteric Warfare is out June 6th on Season of Mist.


(Daniel Death)

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