Tuesday 24 June 2014

Mayhem - Esoteric Warfare (Album Review)

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 6/6/2014
Label: Season of Mist

Mayhem - ‘Esoteric Warfare’ track listing:

1. Watchers 06:19
2. PsyWar 03:25
3. Trinity 03:57    
4. Pandaemon 02:53
5. MILAB 06:03
6. VI.Sec. 04:12
7. Throne of Time 04:06
8. Corpse of Care 04:06
9. Posthuman 06:55
10. Aion Suntelia 05:25

The Band:

Attila | vocals
Teloch | guitars
Necrobutcher | bass
Hellhammer | drums
Ghul | live guitar


Mayhem, back on my radar with their recent pre-emptive single, return with this full length of spite and hatred. The sun is shining outside, it's the weekend... time to crank some frost bitten black metal.

Watchers opens with some reliably spiky guitar work. Hellhammer ratchets up the pace with double kick skills very much intact and Attila brings some suitably necro vocals.  Psywar (the “single”) is mostly lightning fast and brutality displayed aurally. Trinity is quick and sinister at the same time and the album is shaping up to be a lesson in black metal horror.  Pandaemon takes things down a blasting road of stop start riffs and drums that really does not let up. No vibe here, per se, just out and out filth.

Milab slows thing down by several gears and is as unpleasant as it is disparate from what has gone before. The black metal vibe is very much still there on this unusual track of fragmented guitar and chugging riffs. There are some quick bits too, of course...

VI Second starts slow again with some horrible vocals, the pace does increase momentarily and then blasts. Hellhammer's performance... what can I say?! Incredible drummer, incredible technique and skill around the kit.

Throne of Time has a creepy intro that then blasts into the stratosphere- utilising the stop/start dynamic again to good effect. This is pure black metal of the hate filled variety. No saving the planet, just pure hatred. If that sounds like your thing, well, Corpse of Care is up next ready to keep you in the depths of despair with its downbeat refrain and funereal tempo giving way to machine gun like rhythms and some intelligible spoken lyrics.

Posthuman  also has vocals that you can make out, with nice bass work from Necrobutcher and Hellhammer playing it straight, for a couple of minutes at least before the madness sets in and the band bring the noise. The opening refrain is returned to, and it highlights Mayhem's songwriting- not a term used a lot in BM circles, but they write good stuff- memorable as well as horrific. The longest track on the album sounds better and better after repeated listens and is a great piece of music.

Aion Suntalia finishes with changing tempos, horrible vocals and lots of BM vibe and riffing. There may be new members in Mayem, but they acquit themselves very well over the course of the album and deliver with riffs, guitar lines and atmosphere.

Overall, this is a very strong black metal album- or should that be Mayhem album, as they are perhaps bigger than the genre itself. If you ever liked the band, you owe it to them to check this out. You also owe it to yourself, as this is metal of the highest and most visceral quality.

Words by: Richard Maw

You can get it here