Mayhem – Esoteric Warfare


Black metal band reformed as nu-metal powerhouse Mayhem released their latest album Esoteric Warfare on June 6, 2014. Much like late-career albums from Triptykon and Massacra, the latest Mayhem shows that as a metal band ages the probability of it becoming Pantera or Southern Fried rock approaches one.

Although the album communicates little to no artistry or depth, it offers a strong example of how to successfully appeal to one’s commercial audience by being both digestible and using lots of hard and heavy sounds the audience recognizes as dangerous… if they came in any other form than a commercial product. Esoteric Warfare creates a blueprint for success by appropriating nu-metal’s populist simplification of the speed metal style of mono-dimensional lower-string muted riffing and sprinkling it with the pixie dust of commercial black metal aesthetics..

The band thus builds its appeal entirely from catchy central riffs which are so reduced in complexity that one is capable of comprehending them on first listen. The rest is garnish: the introductions, acoustic breaks, spoken word sections, black metal fireworks, seemingly random caesuras and even some death metal technique that randomly flares in the midst of the thudding rhythmic hook. This album belongs more to the exoteric, or easily and equally grasped at first contact, than the esoteric like older black metal, which deepened in revelation the more the listener devoted his or her consciousness to exploring it.

With the latest generation, the rock-metal hybrid that industry has always wanted rears its ugly head here. The new innovation is this tendency to break up the monotony with garnish, which allows the monotonic lower register riffs to drone on with strategic breaks to remind the listener that the entirety of an album does not necessarily need to sound indistinguishable however much the band may be seemingly trying to lead it in that direction. Complete sonic pointlessness does not dissolve, but rather mutates into a more friendly and funky exterior, thus allowing the listener an escape from a complete degradation of metal as an art form into a complete degradation of jazz as an art form. Whether that constitutes progress will be left to the view of the reader.


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Mayhem announces details of Esoteric Warfare


Former black metal, now modern metal band Mayhem have announced further details about their upcoming album via Season of Mist. Entitled Esoteric Warfare, the track list can be viewed below:

  1. Watcher
  2. Psywar
  3. Trinity
  4. Pandaemon
  5. Mylab
  6. Six Seconds
  7. Throne of Time
  8. Corpse of Care
  9. Posthuman
  10. Aion Suntalia

The album is set to be released on May 23, with a US release date on May 27. It will be available for pre-order next Wednesday, March 26.

Additionally, the band has planned a European tour to support the album’s release, with two festival dates currently scheduled later in the year:

  • 14 May 14 Hamburg (DE) Markthalle
  • 16 May 14 Bochum (DE) Matrix
  • 17 May 14 Köln (DE) Essigfabrik
  • 18 May 14 Eindhoven (NL) Effenaar
  • 20 May 14 Bruxelles (BE) AB
  • 21 May 14 London (GB) Electric Ballroom
  • 22 May 14 Paris (FR) Le Divan du Monde
  • 23 May 14 Winterthur (CH) Gaswerk
  • 24 May 14 Milan (IT) Factory
  • 26 May 14 Bratislava (SK) Randal
  • 27 May 14 München (DE) Backstage Club
  • 28 May 14 Berlin (DE) C-Club
  • 29 May 14 Warsaw (PL) Proxima
  • 30 May 14 Plzen (CZ) Metalfest Open Air Festival
  • 31 May 14 København (DK) Pumpehuset
  • 28 Jun 14 Lausanne (CH) Les Docks (Inferno Festival)
  • 08 Aug 14 Øya (NO) Tøyenparken (Øya Festival)

The album’s first single, entitled Psywar is scheduled for release on April 26. It contains of an alternate mastering of the titular track (our review can be found here), in addition to a track entitled “From Beyond the Event Horizon”, taken from the scrapped 2012 Budapest Sessions.


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Riff analysis: Gorguts- “Condemned to Obscurity”

Having recently dissected what comprises the riff structuring of the current incarnation of Gorguts in the Pleiades’ Dust review, I decided to revisit what I deem to be their most truly progressive material in The Erosion of Sanity to pinpoint what the band used to do successfully in comparison.  The most bewildering track on it, “Condemned to Obscurity,” perplexed me when I had first heard it about twenty years ago and still has an esoteric nature to its structure and aesthetic today.  But unlike current Gorguts which borrows from indie and noise rock techniques to create dissonance, Gorguts on this particular song managed to do so utilizing purely metal tropes in a way that was entirely unique for its time.  In the following I will attempt to break down what comprises the very first riff of the song and detail what it meant for the band at the time and how it served as a window into what they eventually evolved into, for better or worse.



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Mayhem Grand Declaration of War

A common theme you hear in critiquing music is the need to separate the art from the artist for the most objective analysis possible.  This all sounds good on paper, but we are all human, and the flaws that imbues in us make our understanding of all concepts skewed by perspective.  The metal path is one of social outcast and self-discovery through a grasp of the larger whole, and as such we are left with the purest essence of form and function, but still we allow our humanness to cloud our judgments inevitably.  We won’t give the time of day to a record made by some stretch-lobed lumbersexual even if he might have accidentally produced the next necessary evolution in metal, and we like it that way.  We have been proven right long enough by lousy records and “evolutions” of our favorite artists but although we may have erected a necessary safeguard for quality control, we need to analyze if it is constructed of statements and proofs of inherent positive musical traits or our own hubris instead.


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Graveland Announces 2018 Tour, Releases Video For Re-Recorded “Thurisaz”

Ethereal second-wave black metal band Graveland will be touring across Europe in 2018, continuing a series of selected dates in Germany, Poland, and Ukraine. At these shows, the band will be playing songs from its compilation of re-recorded Graveland songs with the classic feel but without the “old days” bad production, 1050 Years of Pagan Cult, which is available through Heritage Records.



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An Overview of Inquisition



Known around these parts as a blackened heavy rock n’ roll band, Inquisition’s brand of black metal is produced by a high-energy application of black metal riffing with a heavy rock rhythmic sense, but within the riff salad paradigm. The result are relatively varied and outstretched songs that tend to tire the ear even though their duration is not very long. The variety of these riffs is also more apparent than effective, since they are all heavily anchored around a sense of rhythmic hooks and black metal tremolo technique, never really straying away from it.

Despite these serious technical deficiencies, we hear a band marching against wind and tide towards their evil, propaganda. Producing a music that is, to those used to bask in the consumate musical glory of Immortal, somewhat of a quaint laughing matter. Despite all of this, if even these listeners lie back and allow the music to well-up, Inquisition manage to be one of the most strongly evocative black metal acts out there today, even if exclussively by dint of the effects of their croak n’ roll black riff train without heads or tails.



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Metal Vocals are Obstructive.  Remove them.

There are many well cultured intellectuals who, when presented with metal music, will immediately be tuned out by the vocals.  This results in much of the metal collective being comprised of hold-my-beer normies and most of the world’s high IQ population never grasping a music genre that has both the depth and the complexity they yearn for.  Moreover, vocals in metal have not progressed AT ALL since the 1990s and therefore vocalists have been rendered indistinguishable from one another.  Through this understanding comes the ultimate revelation:  metal vocals, more than any other factor, are hindering the next great wave of metal. 



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In The Age Of Ideology Dying, The “Political” Album Also Dies

Growing up, I always detested “political” albums because people were ranting to me about partisanship from an adult world that I knew had already failed. It really was shuffling deck chairs on the Titanic to demand one failed version of the current order over another. It also violated what I felt was sacred about art: its abstraction, metaphor, and connection to the naturalistic experience.



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