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Mayhem - De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas
Review: To create metal more extreme than the previous generation of simple and savage black metal, Mayhem at first built crude and incoherent songs but developed an aesthetic of primitive, ugly, mechanical riffs shaped from basic and masticatory musical antitheses. Their relentless, chaotic, and masterfully rhythmic collection of riffs support a cast of simple songs which use the tradition verse-chorus dichotomy of simple heavy metal - black metal as a polarized backdrop upon which oppositional rhythm and symmetric complements of phrase can counterplay.
Where Mayhem shine is in tendency of these riffs which reveals a hardcore derivation to much of this: disconclusive, anti-symmetric riffing which follows ambient simplicity to author multiple combinations in the same overall rhythmic support. Their songs tear into musical wounds as elemental as the pieces of a scale and leave them more ambiguous than before, creating in this darkened haze of composition an opening for the nihilistic mechanism and romantic melody of the highest level of artistic opposition.
The studied reduction of songs from collection of these riffs to expressive structures with individual centering principles, however, is where Mayhem create their masterpiece and underline their fundamental concept of violent beauty and power in death. Where their contributions can be acknowledge it is to Dead for conceptual and lyrical guidance, and to Euronymous for slowly shaping rough and chromatic riffing into heavy metal with a neoclassical sense of melody less shown off than quietly pervading compositions of an otherwise blues-based nature, suggesting a partial break from the past of Venom/Hellhammer and an aspiration toward a new style within the aesthetic of rippling tremelo fluidity and melodic resonance.
Although melodramatic and overextended by the hilariously violent and strikingly operatic vocals of Tormentor throatman Attilla, these songs are as savage as with the inhuman torrential scream of Dead, previous vocalist and celebrated suicide, and in this more controlled recording highlight the percussion of Hellhammer, simple rock-grindcore fusion blasting with the fastidious surgical precision of a serial murderer. Periodically Euronymous inserts by-now classic pentatonic and atonal lead guitar, wandering through tempos and tones like a lost spirit obssessed with the night; consistently the attraction of this band however is his deadset wrist rhythm guitar, which varies from fast rippling blast-riffs to grating, intimidating, recursive doom minimalism.
Lyrics from previous vocalist Dead accompany the morbid processional of seemingly random but strikingly integrated power chord riffs, emphasizing the beauty and distinction of the abstract state of the unliving mind. Emphasis on concept in deathlike appearance, relentless violent energy and the staging of poetic idea to each song in dynamic construction and presentation of nearly ambient "scenes" formed of repeated parts of each song. Without advancing beyond the first generation of black metal except in gestures of future musicality, Mayhem innovated a style which inspired many others and their primary contributions of rhythm guitar remain unmatched today for severity and concussive resolution.