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DMDS- good, important or both?

DMDS- good, important or both?
August 14, 2010, 02:57:47 PM
Some food for thought:

Is DMDS good?
Is DMDS important?

If both, then:

Is DMDS good BECAUSE it's important...?
Is DMDS important BECAUSE it is good...?

This was a question posed to me earlier in the week. I'm prepared to sign up for "DMDS is important because it is good," unless there's a separate option replacing good with "one of the genre heights" or "standard-setting that was never met or raised." Understandably, Burzum reached the highest point of Black Metal, though it is important to take into account that his approach was non-standard, and quite different from Mayhem's song-writing style (Mayhem didn't use standard song structures either, but they were more standard than Burzum's later work); also, he was on this recording... pretty much doing a much better job making a name for the capabilities of bass playing than anyone else in black metal. Marduk had an interesting bass sound because it was clean and apparent, and Necromantia used only basses but neither of these outfits had bass performances as unforgettable as DMDS... and I'll go as far as to say that about every performance on that album.

I'd like to hear some more input on these matters.

Re: DMDS- good, important or both?
August 15, 2010, 10:15:51 AM
From the funereal-exegetical aesthetics to the dissonant riffs and ambient drumming it's easy to be convinced that it's important for the sound, style and composition of practically all Nordic black metal since. Even though "A Blaze in the Northern Sky" and others beat it by release date, much of the raw song material had been heard, as showcased in the more chaotic "Live in Leipzig" and the general terror campaign that was Mayhem's live performance in the Dead era. But looking at those recordings and "Deathcrush" likewise, "De Mysteriis..." wouldn't have needed to be good. Oystein wouldn't have needed to have performed tighter than ever, nor would Hellhammer have needed to record that blasting to symphonic proportions in the Grieg concert hall, nor would have Varg needed to recompose the sublime bass parts nor would Snorre's input in recycled weird-as-fuck Thorns riffs or lyrical art have been obligatory. Yet, there were all these touches, last but not least Attila's ridiculously malignant voices which have nothing to do with the fact that Mayhem was already important and wouldn't have needed to outdo themselves on this album.

So, I'd say both good and important, with no necessary causal relationship one way or the other.

Re: DMDS- good, important or both?
August 15, 2010, 02:56:14 PM
De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas is one of my favorite albums of all time. To me it sounds like Celtic Frost meets Immortal. DMDS has droning, ritualistic passages(Celtic Frost) interspersed with fast war-like anthems(Immortal). Mayhem definitely composes melodies better than Immortal. Immortal's songs have a sound concept, and I can see what they were going for, but I think their melodies failed to truly conjure the emotions they were meant to. Mainly DMDS differs from Pure Holocaust in that there are no "beautiful" passages and there is no cheesiness. This is a serious album while Immortal seems to have never taken themselves too seriously. This is why I view that album as unique: the album has only one goal, sticks to it, and remains interesting. I also think that a good portion of the album can be classified as ambient. Attempts at ambient black metal have mostly been failures whereas this album succeeds. Mostly the album is just very well-executed. There are no unnecessary elements. Everything was thought through and every element has a purpose and masterfully executed. There's something weird in the drumming in the album too, but I don't know what it is. Whatever it is, I love it. The only complaint I've heard of the album is the singing. I used to hate it and thought it was effects on a crappy singers voice. Then I found out that Attila was throat-singing and "understood" the singing. When you view it as throat-singing, the vocals don't sound crappy at all, just a different style. You have to understand that it's not a crappy attempt at black metal vocals; it's something completely different that happens to resemble black metal vocals. My personal criticism is that the songs could've had more well-developed songs. On the album, long passages would go by repeating the same riff and they'll just change the drumming pattern to make it sound like the song is developing, but it's still just the same riff. I guess it demonstrates that the emotion of a melody depends on the context. Since this is one of the defining albums of black metal, if they had composed more complicated melodies, perhaps later black metal acts would have sought to out do them rather than playing the same simplistic riffs like nearly all black metal bands use. I think I'll stop here. It's definitely a good album and important, though I think the impact of this album wasn't as great as that of the other classics.

Re: DMDS- good, important or both?
August 15, 2010, 04:39:53 PM
Put me down for it being important because it's good.  This is a great album.  While it doesn't strive for the artistic heights of other bands (e.g. Burzum), for what it is, it is perfectly executed (as others have mentioned).  I can't think of any serious aesthetic or structural flaw with this album.  Some of the best black metal guitar work, and certainly the best black metal guitar sound.  Absolutely definitive.

Re: DMDS- good, important or both?
August 17, 2010, 12:35:58 PM
It's not that I disagree with making a thread out of this (De Mysteriis is obviously an aesthetically and compositionally unique album worthy of discussion) but this is a bit like asking a group of German nationalists, "Arminius: Was he important?".

Re: DMDS- good, important or both?
August 17, 2010, 04:28:44 PM
It's not that I disagree with making a thread out of this (De Mysteriis is obviously an aesthetically and compositionally unique album worthy of discussion) but this is a bit like asking a group of German nationalists, "Arminius: Was he important?".

There was a divide amongst the black metal fanbase that was pretty visible (back when I was in the loop anyway) concerning this album. The amount of positive responses here actually surprises me; it wasn't always like that even on the ANUS forums. The main issues were really Attila's performance (comparison to Dead), Hellhammer and Euronymous' lack of credibility (doesn't make sense, shouldn't make a difference, but it did then for whatever reasons), and Varg's basslines lowered, rendering this what people called a "nearly bassless" album.

"Gayhem" and "Norgay" -nicknames
"bunch of fuckin' posers" - the worlds of a popular, kvlt, tr00 black metal band who shall go unnamed.
+ a dominating portion of the underground populace thinking that Mayhem always sucked, and only answering machine production was appropriate for real Black Metal.

I'm sure there's still people out there like that, but they haven't been extremely vocal about it lately since Black Metal was sold to Shoegaze artists. Needless to say, a good number of the formerly mentioned personalities converted to the later mentioned ones who still every now and then go out of their way to point out how "Mayhem was childish both ideologically and musically," and "Black Metal has evolved." If you ask me, you can't spitshine a personality of shit by becoming a Hipster.

If the topic has a value, it should be so as a reevaluation as well as a reflection on previously held views on the album.

Re: DMDS- good, important or both?
August 18, 2010, 07:21:06 AM
DMDS is a great album. The only downside for me is the sloppiness of how the instruments are played. But then the chaotic performance fits the music, perhaps if it was played more neatly it wouldn't have the same impact.

I'll also respectfully disagree with OP's statements about Burzum's later music being of significant higher quality. HLTO is his only masterpiece, the other albums contain a lot of filler material and as such I can only call some individual tracks great. Burzum's debut is excellent but it suffers from overly simple instrumentation, it lacks the musical depth of HLTO. Filosofem is decent but it's a pop album.

Not sure if DMDS is better than HLTO, both are great albums in their own ways. But even if HLTO is better then Burzum still released more subpar material compared to early Mayhem.

Norgay is a nickname me and friends still use to describe the Norwegian scene, currently Norway is Norgayer than ever imo (thanks to people like Gaahl and Satyricon and later Darkthrone)

People who complain about "childish artists such as Mayhem or Immortal" need to wipe the shit out of their eyes. I've met too many people who complained about Immortal not being serious and then those same people go listen to Xasthur/Darkspace/The Cure/etc. They are looking to buy a product, not to appreciate art. Then when I suggest they listen to Diabolical Fullmoon Mysticism they complain about the production or some music video that's been completely taken out of its original context. If you know your early BM then you know Dead could have come up with a similar video, then you know there are ridiculous photos of Varg, Euronymous and Darkthrone too. Who cares about a failed video or poorly applied corpsepaint or somebody wearing cowboy boots? The albums still stand rock solid and what they express is still miles above anything the later bands come up with even if they have professional make-up artists working for them. And what the early bands accomplished is certainly a hell of a lot more than the achievements of some bitter basement dweller who biggest contribution to the world is sitting on the sideline and complaining. Same thing about that divide Swamplord is talking about: angsty fanboys who can only look at life in terms of black and white.

Re: DMDS- good, important or both?
August 18, 2010, 11:48:08 AM
As the OP stated, there has been disagreement about this album, and you can go ahead and put me down as a devil's advocate (err, wait...).  It IS good, and it IS important; I just don't like it very much.  I feel very similarly about the first Immortal and Darkthrone's first BM record, though the next three from each were brilliant.  I was first introduced to Mayhem through their "terror campaign" (well put), and I thought the concept of a band's overall artistic content and value going far beyond the music itself, was inspiring.  The notable musical improvements on DMDS don't make up for the fact that the band lost much of it's soul in the process of its creation.  Still, this thread is making me want to go listen to it again, so perhaps this post has absolutely no relevance.

Re: DMDS- good, important or both?
August 18, 2010, 10:09:54 PM
From The Darkest Past is miles ahead of DMDS in that there are no vocals and there is a franticness in the playing that doesn't show up as well in DMDS. I highly recommend it.

Re: DMDS- good, important or both?
August 20, 2010, 06:38:08 AM
The other day I sat down and really listened to DMDS for the first time since I bought it and I agree that this album is important because it is good. Back in the day it was a genre-defining album, really the clarion call to the Nordic black metal fraternity. From when it was released, it seems that Scandinavia started producing black metal bands every day, each one attempting to create the same sound as DMDS. Isn't imitation the best form of flattery?

Re: DMDS- good, important or both?
August 20, 2010, 10:15:47 AM
It's a great album, very atmospheric

Re: DMDS- good, important or both?
April 13, 2012, 08:36:19 AM
Not bumping this for stupid reasons; I actually have a legitimate further inquiry.

After familiarizing myself with the Thorns discography, I'm questioning right now how much of the album Euronymous actually wrote himself. I've read in countless interviews that Snorre "gave" him some riffs even before he actually joined the outfit. There's a lot of scandal regarding the album that I think has been overlooked.

Of the five members, only two are credited. Judging by the guitar writing, it ALL sounds like Thorns, not just fragments of input. Why not even mention Snorre? Thorns was obviously important enough to include on the Nordic Metal tribute album regardless of his accomplice-to-murder status, so why not credit him?

Am I speaking an alien language or has anyone else noticed these things?

Re: DMDS- good, important or both?
April 13, 2012, 09:23:20 AM
Yes, I noticed Thorns influence, but I wonder to what degree Thorns was influenced by Aarseth's guitar playing.  We don't know when Aarseth developed the "eerie chord" (or whatever Fenriz calls it), but I'm willing to bet it was before Thorns, because Ruch doesn't claim to have written DMDS (which he would certainly do, if he did).