Usually with scenes, there is always one band to start it all off. Black metal has the group Mayhem who are probably only popular for the story of killings within the band. But thatís just typical black metal you know? This is the epitome of black metal and features the full traits of the genre. This album is quite dark featuring a lot of blast beats, evil vocals and simple but dark guitar riffs. For fans outside the genre, this might seem like crap but this is actually a real treat with songs such as Funeral Fog and Freezing Moon. This was a huge influence to the black metal scene and I can honestly say without it, the genre wouldnít be the same or even alive.
The albumís opener Funeral Fog just blasts it all open with evil guitar licks and pounding blast beats. The vocals does sound like the guy is dying but it all comes down to the music. You canít help but get a tingle up your spine when he sings, ďFuneralÖ.fog!" under the heaviness of it all. One thing is that the tracks donít vary much so if you donít have good ears then this will be hard to listen to. The hardcore metallist will notice every song note by note though.
One more thing is that the drums donít vary much either, listen to Funeral Fog and you will notice itís the same drumbeat throughout the whole song. He does have a cool snare sound though. The guitars are strummed for the riffs making it awkward. No melody or anything at all. The vocals do get on my nerves, while it is based on the black metal style. His vocals are definitely an acquired taste. The vocals are always slow and evil like. The bass is nice and distorted which is quite cool. As you can see, itís pretty easy to pick up flaws throughout the album but what makes it so good you can come back to it again and again. For one thing, it has a real wicked and scary atmosphere. Itís bound to make you crap yourself at night, this is overall Sunn O))) bumped up 100bpm. Mayhem are a dark band and taking drugs along to this is surely a very scary time.
Itís bound that influence alone could put the score right up. Yes, it is a trademark album but does that equal good? Compared to new black metal, this canít stand up on itís own as the genre has changed a lot in twelve years. Back in the day, this would have been a masterpiece and not like anything else done at that time but I hate to admit that I can hear some thrash and death influences. The guitar tone is very thrash and the drumming is linked to death metal. But maybe there height of success was not to do with their music? Every time I ask someone about this band, they always tell me of the famous story about the band. Yeah, it is interesting that the vocalist committed suicide and half the band is murdered or in jail but what has that got to do with the music? Another thing is probably their stage presence, with the full black ensemble and animal heads in poles and such. Mayhem will probably be remembered for that.
So overall, this is a great album when youíre in the mood but pay attention or itíll sound all the same. When Iím writing this, it feels like that already but last night when I was just lying listening to this, I could pick out every difference. Iím going to overall give it a four but in general itís a three. Itís good but it isnít really that mind-blowing. The reason itís getting higher than a three is because of the influence in the genre and the fact that it is rated high inside the genre. If you canít stand slow growled vocals then this could still appeal to you as the vocals donít really play a major part in the music. The guitars however are never melodic and donít have any cool licks or anything to learn so be beware. This is a great listen, just not all the time.
I personally think you're wrong. This album more than stands up to modern black metal, it stands head and shoulders above anything released since. The only thing that has moved forward in black metal is the production and that isn't necessarily a good thing as thousands of secondrate bands drench their poor songs in swathes of keyboards and glossy mixing.
With the exception of Samael no-one has ever made an album sound this evil.
Here's soem things I disagree with on your review:
Compared to new black metal, this canít stand up on itís own as the genre has changed a lot in twelve years.
I suppose you're reffering to happy, cheesy melodic or symphonic black metal. I'm quite sure this can stand up to any of that by A LONG SHOT. Comparing this to Symphonic/Melodic Black Metal is ridiculous anyway...
Yeah, it is interesting that the vocalist committed suicide and half the band is murdered or in jail but what has that got to do with the music?
Nothing. I don't even care about that. Infact, I'm sick of hearing of it. Anyone who listens to the music because of that shouldn't be.
The guitars however are never melodic and donít have any cool licks or anything to learn so be beware.
I find them to be at least SOME WHAT melodic :S. I also enjoy playing Funeral Fog and Buried By Time and Dust on my guitar, so I don't know what you're talking about.
You seem to be missing some of the points of black metal here, I find.
This is some amazing Black Metal, I agree with Rice on all of that stuff.
In addition, the tracks do vary a lot, and the production isn't bad at all. You can clearly hear everything that is going on, and each song is definitely unique. If you think the prouction is bad or the songs all sound the same you obviously don't have an ear for black metal.
This is a masterpiece, in every way, not only because of influence. I strongly disagree with you when you say that the content is only a 3. It is a 5! This is very hard to beat. It seems to me like you marked off for "imperfections" (amongst other things), further making me question how well you realize what this is all about.
Yes, I will reiterate what these two^ have already said. Comparing this to post-black, melodic black, symphonic black, is really not a valid contrast and I think this beats a lot of the newer stuff. The production is great (see Pure Fucking Armageddon for bad production) and the riffing is interesting (see Ildjarn for repetitive).
Every time I ask someone about this band, they always tell me of the famous story about the band. Yeah, it is interesting that the vocalist committed suicide and half the band is murdered or in jail but what has that got to do with the music? Another thing is probably their stage presence, with the full black ensemble and animal heads in poles and such. Mayhem will probably be remembered for that.
Why mention it then?
This is a superb album, and pretty much defines Black Metal for me. The title track is an amazing album closer.