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Review for 'Mayhem - De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas'
One of the first albums that one learns about upon introducing themselves to Black Metal is, in most cases, Mayhem's De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas. This album is legendary for two reasons. One of the reasons for it's legendary status, and unfortunately probably the first reason that comes to mind for those who are only just beginning to familiarize themselves with Norwegian Black Metal's history, is due to De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas being directly related to those responsible for all the notorious incidents that revolved around the early Norwegian Black Metal movement, as the members of Mayhem themselves were almost invariably the instigators of whichever controversy was at the center of the media's attention at any given moment, and they happened to be working on De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas during this period. Have you guessed the second reason yet? Let's find out!
When you remove the hype and exposure that these infamous events have attributed to De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas, there remains only one other reason why this album is legendary, and that reason is due to the sheer fucking brilliance of the music contained within. A rather obvious conclusion from an objective point of view, but it's hard to maintain an objective and purely musical point of view when it comes to Mayhem and the ill-famed past of the early Norwegian Black Metal scene. I wonder, did you correctly guess the second reason, or did Mayhem's controversial past cloud your memory?
Moving on to the music itself, the opening track "Funeral Fog" begins with a deceivingly standard Black Metal riff, before the song suddenly reveals itself and guitarist Euronymous, drummer Hellhammer, bassist Varg Vikernes and singer Attila Csihar each contribute to the magic with every instrument fitting right into place. One may be taken by surprise by Attila Csihar's trademark unearthly vocals, themselves unique within the genre, however it all makes perfect sense well before this initial song is over.
The second song is "Freezing Moon", featuring a similar style to "Funeral Fog" except for one major characteristic that makes it stand out from the rest of the songs on De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas, and from the rest of the genre for that matter. One of the defining characteristics of Black Metal, due to the way the instruments are played, the way the songs are structured, and the way the atmosphere of the music is intentionally conveyed, conventional guitar solos are practically inexistent in Black Metal with the exception of only the most traditional of Black / Thrash and Old School Black Metal bands. On "Funeral Fog" however, Euronymous proves that it can work within the more extreme variations of Black Metal, and the subsequent guitar solo that he performs fits the song like a glove.
From this point onwards, each song on De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas is just flawless, instantly memorable and distinguishable from the rest. On each track, Euronymous never fails to surprise with stunning riff after stunning riff, and Hellhammer proves why he has always been one of the best and most versatile Black Metal drummers in the world. Together with with Attila's vocals that really immerse the listener into a cold world of shadows, De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas makes for a unique listening experience. Some songs are of the more traditional and aggressive variety such as "Pagan Fears" and "Buried By Time And Dust", while others like "Cursed In Eternity" and "From The Dark Past" give off an underlying sensation of voyage and wonder, appearing to belong to another era or even another dimension. Either way, they all compliment the overall atmosphere perfectly.
Finally, De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas comes to a monumental end with the album's closer and title track "De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas", which is nothing short of mind-blowing, sending the listener on a journey through space and time which somehow appears to condense whole galaxies and aeons passed into a single 6 minute track.
Essentially, De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas is one of a kind, it's beyond comparison, and it's one of the genre's most fundamental albums and stands as a monument to Norwegian Black Metal. Upon listening to this album, it becomes apparent that it was somewhat ahead of it's time. No band will ever be able to repeat what has been achieved on this album, no matter how hard they try, not even Mayhem themselves, and for this reason De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas will forever stand as one of Black Metal's most legendary and enjoyable albums.
What other albums sound similar to this?
Searching for an album sounding similar to De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas is like trying to find a similar building to the Sydney Opera House. Everything about this album, from the individual performances to the overall sound, is unique and will surely never be repeated or successfully imitated. You can try your luck at finding similarities in Mayhem's other albums, specifically the Wolf's Lair Abyss EP for the similar razor sharp guitars, Chimera for some vague resemblance as far as some of the song structures are concerned (but some excellent music nonetheless), or their latest release Ordo Ad Chao if it's Attila Csihar's ghostly vocals and the murky atmosphere you are after.
In a nutshell...
In an era saturated with hype, Mayhem's De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas lives up to it's name and beyond, proving it has and will forever stand the test of time, leaving no room for doubt that this is one of the most important Black Metal albums ever recorded, still sounding as grim and obscure as it did upon it's initial release in 1994.
De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas is a testament to the fact that each of the musicians involved truly excelled at their own speciality, from the instantly memorable guitar riffs composed by Black Metal legend Euronymous and the sublime drumming by Hellhammer, right down to Varg Vikernes' bass lines and the lyrics provided by Snorre "Blackthorn" Ruch and Per Yngve "Dead" Ohlin himself, and last but not least the unholy vocals by Attila Csihar that wrap the whole album in an undead aura.
Site Admin - BestBlackMetalAlbums.com
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