Mayhem - De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas Alive
Released by: Season Of Mist
Released on: December 15th, 2016.
Purchase From Mayhem
Currently made up of Attila on vocals, Necrobutcher on bass, Teloch and Ghul on guitar and the mighty Hellhammer on drums, Norway’s Mayhem are about as iconic as it gets when it comes to black metal. The band are celebrating the release of their 1994 debut album De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas not just with a tour that will see them playing across Europe and North America but also with De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas Alive. This is a self-released professionally recorded live album that documents the band headlining The Black Christmass Festival that took place in Norrköping, Sweden in 2015 where they played De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas in its entirety.
Funeral Fog opens the set and right away you’re in awe of Hellhammer’s abilities behind the drums – the man is an absolute monster, laying down some insane blasts without missing a beat while the guitar work from Teloch and Ghul adds an eerie melody. Attila’s vocals don’t even factor in here until we’re two minutes into the track, but once they do, the track goes from eerie to positively sinister. This man sings like a demon dragged out of the depths of Hell itself, and as such he’s perfect to front the band.
Freezing Moon, possibly the best track on the record, starts off with a slow dirge, again conjuring up a sinister atmosphere and a sense of impending doom. A minute in and we get a quick guitar solo, then the band starts to build, the track gets heavier and heavier and then eventually blasting into the speed metal sound you associate with the band. Attila starts doing this thing about two minutes in and again, his guttural style, which is unorthodox by black metal standards to a certain degree, really sends the track over the edge. This is followed by Cursed In Eternity, which puts aside the doomier sound of the second track in favor of the faster, more crushing sound complete with growling demonic vocals and some blistering guitar work that buries pretty much everything else. The drumming here is so fast that you almost don’t recognize it as drumming, rather it’s a massive wall of sound.
Pagan Fears is somehow a little more upbeat in its tempo without being upbeat at all. It’s a little more melodic and a little less sludgy with some surprising chord changes that you don’t expect to hear. Life Eternal, another stand out track on the album, has a bit more melody to it than anything else on the recording, but again, Attila’s vocals are positively vulgar in their delivery and the whole thing sounds completely Satanic in the best way possible. Moving on to From The Dark Past, gets back to a more traditional black metal sound played fast and with some pretty searing intensity. Again, the drumming on the album is insane, but you really appreciate the twin guitar attack sound that Teloch and Ghul deliver.
As the album comes to a close, Buried By Time And Dust, a shorter track than anything else on the album at just over three minutes in length, proves to be the fastest and angriest number included. And last but certainly not least, there’s the title track, De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas, which starts off with a growl from Attila that’ll send shivers down your spine before the band lay down a massive layer of precision and speed with a wildly repetitive guitar riff that serves as the track’s backbone. Here Attila shifts things around a bit, delivering the guttural howling vocals he’s known for but also, around two minutes in, taking things in a more operatic direction as the track turns from a fairly standard black metal track into an arcane hymn ending the band’s musical black mass on an effectively frightening note.
As to the ‘live’ aspect of the record, the sound quality here is excellent. You can clearly make out each instrument and you’ll have no trouble getting the vocals. The track is well balanced and free of any distortion, it’s clear that the guys behind the mixing board knew what they were doing. You’ll hear audience reaction between songs and occasionally during songs when the rare moments of quiet works its way into a track, but it’s not obnoxious or distracting. It’s also impressive to hear how tight the band sounds here – let’s face it, that isn’t always the case with black metal but here, Mayhem proves that they can play and those drums, holy shit, those drums….