Year of release: 2019
Released by: Century Media Records
Rating: 8,3 / 10
Like it or not, MAYHEM remains perhaps the most interesting of the bands of Norwegian Black Metal first wave. They can be loved or hated, ridiculed or praised - they deserve all this with their ambiguity and constant changeability. If with new albums from DARKTHRONE, SATYRICON or BURZUM everything is always more or less clear from the beginning, then MAYHEM still can surprise you as they did with “Daemon”. My attitude to MAYHEM and their discography is also very mixed. I'm not one of those who think that the group should have been closed after Euronymouses death - it's all exalted crap. At least because they made the brilliant “Ordo Ad Chao” - an absolutely negative album, in terms of uniqueness and success in implementing the idea, not inferior to the great “De Mysteriis dom Sathanas”. The EP “Wolf’s Lair Abyss” was good, and the “Grand Declaration of War” can sometimes be listened with pleasure. However, there were failures, such as the dull “Chimera” with one single good song on the whole disc, or completely dead “Esoteric Warfare”. However, MAYHEM, over and over again changing guitar composers and the musical paradigm, manage not to lose their musical identity. Therefore, you always want to listen to their new album.
“Daemon” became the band's attempt for the first time in many years to touch its key creation - “De Mysteriis dom Sathanas”. Probably, the Norwegians realized that the fan base (and even more so Century Media, which requires the most commercial material from its signatories) will not withstand another experimental record and the subsequent long-term lull. And I must admit that MAYHEM is as close to the roots now as possible. Of course, they didn't return to Black Metal. . Although the lyrics to the album are inspired by occultism, demonology, and all kinds of satanic things, only a complete idiot will believe that a gang of men in their 50s, countless times spitting and shitting on their own legacy, suddenly again believed in the postulates of radical satanic ideology. This is an image for them, nothing more. Let's rock like in old times. In addition, the mastering of the album was done by some guy named Tomas Johansson, regularly noted as a guitarist on several records of christian Power Metal bands. So, no way this band still has anything to do with any ideological matters.
But the musical part of the album does continue the DMDS affair. “Daemon” shows a convincing sound, partly made who would have thought - at Necromorbus studio. The circle is closed: the legendary studio, whose corporate sound has always tried to repeat the grandeur of DMDS, is now working on the sequel to the MAYHEM's greatest. I think Tore Stjerna worked with genuine enthusiasm on the echo effect for Hellhammer’s drums. Especially considering that the music on “Daemon” is beautiful. For obvious reasons, the obsessed rampage of DMDS is no longer peculiar to it, however, MAYHEM take their professionalism and just unstoppable stream of ideas. Guitarist Teloch and bassist Ghul wrote material for the album; after listening, it seems that both from the day they joined the band were waiting for the moment when they would be allowed to compose traditional MAYHEM’s riffs without experimental shit. Most likely, I'm not even wrong about that. The album has enormous quantity of high quality riffs, and this determines its main structural difference from DMDS. The riffs at the last were masterpieces, each song used only a few of them. Therefore, DMDS is so memorable. However, “Daemon” plucks out riffs in packs, and chewing it in one go is hardly possible. But the album is not oversaturated - it is complex, multifaceted, musical in good sense. This is one of the rare records that you can listen to only for the reason that you want to understand how the songs are arranged, make out the instrumental parts, and draw a complete scheme of the album in your head.
Attila's vocals should be noted. Many actively highlight it, stating that the Hungarian pulls half an album on his shoulders, or even whole album. This, of course, is not true - the reason is in the same complexity of the musical part. The vocals are easier to understand, especially since Attila showed off gloriously, having done everything that was expected of him. Obsessed howls, ominous whispers, screeching, roaring - the crazy Hungarian again accepted the role of Satanic priest, as during his visit to Norway in 1993. His most classical performance (by the way, this also applies to the musical part) was for some reason shoved into the bonus track “Everlasting Dying Flame”, sounding like it was something unreleased for 30 years. The second bonus track, “Black Glass Communion”, is also an explicit curtsey towards “Pagan Fears”, and this is not the only reference to the DMDS on the album. I hope that the Russian licensors who will soon release "Daemon" have bothered to buy the rights to the bonuses from Century Media. Both tracks are integral parts of the album, which can not be simply ignored. It is equally impossible to ignore the album itself. Sellout clowns or not, MAYHEM is still an excellent musicians to reckon with.