Mayhem
Grand Declaration of War


4.5
superb

Review

by lostforwords USER (36 Reviews)
November 11th, 2010 | 12 replies


Release Date: 2000 | Tracklist


With their second LP , Mayhem declare the long awaited war they were preparing for patiently so many years. It’s a war against “Christendom, (the) religion of pity”, to quote the opening lines of the record. Christianity is the enemy not only because of the natural hatred the defeated paganists in Norway share against it(according to Vikernes anyway), but because it signifies conservatism and spiritual stagnation. This war must be won at all costs and by all means possible.

This is why black metal alone is not enough. This is why Blasphemer, who came as a replacement to black metal’s most iconic figure, Euronymous, decides (as the band’s main songwriter) to take Mayhem’s music one step forward. He clearly loves techno-thrash bands like Voivod or Coroner, he has a healthy respect for former Mayhem guitar player Snorre Ruch (of Thorns fame) who revolutionized the whole black metal scene with his guitar technique, but in the end, Blasphemer manages to fuse all his influences into a very, very unique guitar/compositional style. A devilish helping hand comes from vocalist Maniac. Not only does he perform his trademark shrieks (he sounds like he is choking-a slight resemblance to Emperor’s Ihsahn), but also he whispers, he shouts and he preaches, sometimes like a neurotic enraged madman and others like a sergeant preparing his soldiers for battle (but essentially like he is obsessed with Dead Kennedys) .

“Grand Declaration of War” is so rich musically, one can’t stop discovering things; the record’s foundation is indeed black metal, but even that isn’t performed in a typical fashion. Let’s just say that the record often speeds up, but for short amounts of time, displaying in fact sonic surgical strikes. “A time to Die” for example, the albums blastbeat driven track, closes at 1:48. Needless to say that songs in here are full of odd time signature changes and weird dissonant riffs that bring to mind a blackened version of the aforementioned techno-thrash bands. As it isn’t always about black metal, everything seems to be about effectiveness in this record, about getting the job done. This explains why the title track is an immense march to the declared war .and so is ”View from Nihil pt. I” This also explains why “Completion in Science of Agony” is a Celtic Frost influenced, slow track, with a heavy scent of impending doom in the air., this explains the industrial influence in “To Daimonion pt I” and “Completion in Science of Agony pt. II”, even the trip-hop of “A bloodsword and a Colder Sun”.

All in all, this is a fantastic album. It came at a time when the scene set to explore its boundaries (Dodheimsgard, modern Satyricon, Arcturus and even with one split EP in their baggage Thorns reigned supreme at the time), and it represents a somewhat more intelligent form of black metal, ergo the “intelligent black metal” tag, because of its tendency to experiment, something that it did with success (don’t ever forget that we are talking about the most static scene within the heavy metal genre). Even if black metal fans didn’t initially appreciate it, exactly because of its experimentation, it rests that “Grand Declaration of War” is a masterpiece.



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user ratings (258)
Chart.
3.1
good
other reviews of this album
KriegdemKriege (4)
Black metal purists can go to hell; this is Mayhem's best....

adhoc (2)
A poor black metal effort that should have never been released at all....

psycho888999 (2.5)
Mayhem's experiment goes awry....

pilumneer (2)
Bleh, this is annoying and weird, don't bother....


Comments:Add a Comment 
Eakflanderyof
November 11th 2010


2143 Comments


Eh, I'm not a fan of this album, but death metal is far more stagnant than black metal could ever hope to be.

Hyperion1001
Staff Reviewer
November 11th 2010


18483 Comments


Yeah, i dislike this band, and i don't see this being much of a stretch from what they used to do. I might listen to it one day though.

Digging: Recondite - Caldera/DRGN 2

MoosechriS
November 12th 2010


5011 Comments


Cool review dude, aint heard this yet really need too. Although most of the time all i hear is people bad mouthing this so it kinda puts me off

Bitchfork
November 12th 2010


7584 Comments


i hate this so fucking much

Voivod
Staff Reviewer
November 12th 2010


6105 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Another fine token of intelligent black metal.

This and Ordo Ad Chao are immense....

i will read the review later.


I'm surprised that this has so many negative reviews.

Oh enough with the black metal purists...


Edit: Excellent review, pos'd, i think it should be the default one for this record.

Digging: The Sabbathian - Ritual Rites

Wizard
November 12th 2010


19406 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Finally, someone with an intelligent opinion writes a review for this.

Digging: Khonsu - Traveller

Willie
Moderator
November 12th 2010


15976 Comments

Album Rating: 3.7

great review. great album.

Yeah, i dislike this band, and i don't see this being much of a stretch from what they used to do. I might listen to it one day though.
This is a huge change from what they used to do (and what they've done since). The Voivod influences make this album, IMO. I wish they had kept this route. Why go back to their roots when the people that loved the debut were never going to accept anything else anyway?
I'm surprised that this has so many negative reviews.

Oh enough with the black metal purists...
You shouldn't be surprised. Black metal purists seem to be the new closed-minded monkey tribe of the overall metal genre (it used to be thrash fans).

Digging: Necropoli - I

Hawks
November 12th 2010


35824 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Nice review man. This album is good, but nothing too special to me. Gotta give it another listen soon.

Digging: Engraved - Before The Tales

Eakflanderyof
November 12th 2010


2143 Comments


Maniac kills this for me. Now Ordo Ad Chao... that's an immense ****ing album. And I'd venture to say that black metal purists are little more than a small minority these days.

Mikanoz
June 8th 2011


18 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

This album fucking rules. Blasphemer's guitar work is amazing, so cleanly played and precise

FR33L0RD
October 27th 2011


1464 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

A refine black metal album.

Hawks
October 27th 2011


35824 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Meh.



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