Review Summary: An amazing album.
De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas, or The Secret Rites Of Lord Satan, is the debut album from Mayhem. Some people will not know who Mayhem are, so perhaps a little background first. The band are the reason that black metal got off its feet through the suicide of their vocalist Dead and the murder of guitarist Euronymous by bassist Varg (later of Burzum fame). So the history behind this band is very dark and controversial to say the least. De Mysteriis is an album that was released without Dead on vocals but contains the other two members that got the scene some attention, and is generally regarded as being one of the essential black metal albums. Still, Dead's death is still felt on here with the lyrics to two songs having been provided by the odd individual himself.
This release is one of the few "classic" black metal albums that really lives up to the hype. This is a release that makes great use of tremolo picked power chords, as should be the case with early black metal, from the opening of Funeral Fog through to the end of the album. Very rarely does this album let up with the blast beats characteristic of the genre and this is very good. The bass is also present and correct, being heavily distorted but still audible behind the titanic collection of instruments that make for one loud album. The vocals are something that many people love to debate about De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas. Attila is not quite as good as Dead or Maniac (the two vocalists the band had prior to this release) were but is still powerful and provides an eerie feel to the album. Freezing Moon contains some half-sung vocals, whilst raspy shrieks and growls are present on many of the tracks here that keep for a very varied vocal performance. In fact, Attila is the one form of variation that this album has. Some of the riffs will instantly leap out at the listener such as a couple of the riffs in Life Eternal and one in particular in Funeral fog that changes the pace a little, but for the most part this is monotonous but this is the real genius of it. This release is very powerful whilst rarely changing whatsoever.
De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas is a ***ing masterclass in how to play black metal properly. Freezing Moon and Life Eternal bear the last lyrics from Dead and are two of the stronger tracks here, including the very creepy slower part at the start of the former, but all the songs here are awesome. The title track is a classic of the genre in all its relentless tremolo picked glory. Check this if you haven't.