De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas
was the first full-length studio album by Norwegian black metal band, Mayhem. The title is said to mean "Lord Satan's Secret Rites." It's now widely regarded as Mayhem's greatest effort and one of the finest albums in black metal history. Recorded after vocalist Dead's suicide and released after the murder of guitarist Euronymus by fellow bandmate bassist, Count Grishnack. Hellhammer had promised Euronymus' mother to erase the bass tracks of his murderer and re-record them himself, but they remained as is because of his, and everyone else's, lack of bass playing skill. Vocals were recorded by Attila Csihar, and were seen by fans of the band as inferior to those of Dead. Now that that's out of the way, we can get down to the music. It's fast, heavy, and lyrics are hardly ever understandable.
gets right to it with blast beats, distorted
guitar, and humming bass. Slight variations in riff and drums occur
for about the first minute and a half. Then a riff change and double
bass start up, and soon after, vocals join the front. They're raspy
and very difficult to understand. This continues for a bit until the
guitar takes center stage again, with a distorted and fuzzy riff. A
slight vocal return and then it's back to double bassing from
Hellhammer. This leads back into the blast-beat and high-pitched
riff from Euronymus. Vocals make another appearance, followed by the
double bass part and riffs. Now, this goes on as the band jams away
with blast beats and quick string strumming, until the end where the
last strum resonates out, ending the track.
Up next is Freezing Moon
, and is also one of my
favorites. It starts with cymbal crashes and distorted bass as a
high-pitched riff plays over top. Soon, Hellhammer's drums come into
play as things repeat. Then the riff gets a bit faster and the bass
and drum beat change accordingly. Once again the riff changes and
the drums go into blast beat mode. Vocals come in, and are raspy
again. A bit of jam time and then Attila comes back. "Freezing
moooooooooooooonah" leads into more jamming, and then some drum
rolls. Everything disappears leaving only distorted bass until some
more tom rolls and guitar pluckin' come in. This part is very slow,
compared to the first track, and is pretty good. Until the vocals
come back, that is. They're once again halfway growled and raspy.
Vocals leave, and that brings about a wonderful guitar solo. It's
high-pitched and shrieky, and soon brings about a change in drums.
This is one of the highlights of the song, or even the entire album.
After some double bass accents, the solo ends and Attila returns
with some shouting which then goes back to half growling. Another
riff change, but this time going back to one featured in the
beginning. After a bit of jamming, the guitars fade out and bring an
end to Freezing Moon, my favorite track of the album.
Cursed in Eternity
is up next. It starts with guitar,
and drum accents. This leads into a blast beat and heavily distorted
riff. After a bit this goes into a faster beat, riff, and vocals are
added. The vocals raspily growl away while the band chugs along in
the background. Then, vocals go away and the rest of the members
thrash away with speedy riffs and drums to match. Back to the
growling, now, as blast beats and riffs continue. Out of that, comes
a squealing mini-solo as the drums change from their blast-beating.
Vocals return along with double bass from Hellhammer. Another
change, and then back into double bass as Attila growls away. Blast
beats are back as string strumming continues. Then out of nowhere,
the song changes and in the process, gets a bit faster. Jam away,
the band does now, until the token fade out at the end.
goes right into metal mode, with distorted
riffs and a rock beat backing. This changes a bit as drums get less
bass oriented, but this doesn't last as long as it returns to the
opening bit. Double bass follows, and then it goes to lone guitar.
The others come back in with a blast beat backing. Attila's raspy
voice joins the mix, and later leaves while the rest thrash away.
He comes back, with just the same amount of rasp, but then gets more
evil than ever with a sort of shriek/shout. Double bass starts up as
the riffs change a bit and "Pagan fears/The past is alive" is
rasped. Now there's a part of clearly audible bass in the
background. A lone guitar leads back into the rest of instruments
going back into metal mode. More vocals and then jamming from the
band, which goes into the tried and true guitar ending.
Next on the list is Life Eternal
, which begins with a
gong-like sound and gets right into blast beats and distorted riffs.
A break with lone guitar occurs, and leads into a fairly melodic
bit. This is one of the more musical parts on the album, and is
pretty enjoyable. Vocals make an entrance and seem calmer than
before. Afterward, there's more of the great instrumental part, with
twiddling guitar and backing bass. More rasping, and then more
instrumental work. This leads into a little solo and another bit of
clearly audible bass. The riff changes a bit and is punctuated by
double bass bits. An abrubt stop brings more lone guitar which is
then joined by some hat and tom work. Now more audible bass and calm
drums. Ater a bit, there's a change in guitar which goes to a more
fuzzy riff. Then instruments join back in, but this time in metal
mode with a blast beat. "I am immortal, but am I a human" is shouted
by Attila, and then there's some more shouting. Guitar gets a bit
screechier as drums blast away. Then drums speed the hell up, and
the riffs follow. This goes into the quick guitar fade away.
From the Dark Past
starts with a screechy riff, a tom
roll, and then goes into the rock beat with some guitar. A slight
break for lone riffing, and then tom rolls and double bass, oh my.
After a bit of that, vocals appear. A slight break from the raspy
voice occurs with a subtle change in riff, but then it's back to the
former. The vocals go from rasping to then a scream, which brings
about a lone guitar with tom accents from Hellhammer. Bass comes
back, and soon after, Attila brings his voice back as the drums go
back to rock beats. This goes into a blast beat with distorted
guitar-ing. The vocals go to a soft whisper now, as drums thunder
away. Towards the end, drums and voice goes away and leaves the
guitars to do their resonating out into silence. This track isn't
really anything special.
Next is Buried by Time and Dust
. This is the shortest
song here, and one of the speediest. It starts with distorted guitar
and some cymbal twiddling. Then it kicks into full metal mode with
blast beating drums, quick riffs, and fast vocals. A momentary
break, but then back to blasting. After a few seconds, the drums
actually speed up. The rest of this song is pretty strait forward.
The drums keep up steady speed as guitars riff and vocals rasp. The
guitars do their thing at the end here, too.
Lastly, is the title track, De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas
It begins with some guitar, and then a demonic growl. This goes into
the blast beat and vocals. After a bit, Attila goes away, leaving
the band to hammer away. He soon returns though, and does his thing.
But then his voice goes higher pitched into a strange almost
singing, but more like wailing. They soon go away and leave you with
the band, but then they come back in their former glory. Right
after, it's back to wailing, and then being raspy. Lots of vocal
changes in this one, as you can see (or read). A break with lone
guitar leads to a rock beat, and then thundering double bass. Back
to the blast beat and vocals make a return. Another break with some
a tom roll and guitar, and then it's back to blasting. Attila starts
wailing again for a while, but then goes back to rasping. Then the
guitars fade away ending the track and album.
To fans of the genre, this should be up there on your 'to-buy'
list. To everyone else, however, it's nothing more than decent. It's
fairly repetitive and nothing really special. If you like black
metal, go ahead and give it a try. If you don't, approach with
(+)There's some good musical moments here and there
(+)It delivers what black metal is all about
(-)Not much diversity, as most songs kind of sound the same
(-)The vocals aren't that great, but then again, look at the genre
(-)There's nothing mind-blowing or really innovative here
(?)That's a nice house. I'd love to live there. Is it for sale?
1. Funeral Fog -5:47 (All songs written by Mayhem)
2. Freezing Moon -6:23
3. Cursed In Eternity -5:10
4. Pagan Fears -6:21
5. Life Eternal -6:57
6. From The Dark Past -5:27
7. Buried By Time And Dust -3:34
8. De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas -6:22