Mayhem
Esoteric Warfare


3.7
great

Review

by Voivod STAFF
June 3rd, 2014 | 116 replies


Release Date: 06/10/2014 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Mayhem go through the motions, yet their craft remains unmatched.

During an interview for the promotion of Grand Declaration of War in 2000, bassist Jorn Stubberud (aka Necrobutcher) argued that a prolonged time of absence (ca. 4 years) was mandatory, in order to fully harness a new style and realize it in detail. Of course, that album was further delayed for reasons other than music. In contrast, that is, to the first Mayhem album in 7 years and the release of Ordo Ad Chao. The predecessor of the Esoteric Warfare album, was/is Mayhem’s most provoking declaration to date, not only for extreme metal, but for progressive metal in general.

The album was as much of an artistic blessing as of a band lineup curse as well, as long time guitarist Rune Eriksen (aka Blasphemer) decided to quit Mayhem in 2008 on the grounds of creative saturation. His departure put the band on what appeared then as an indefinite hiatus. Apart from a proficient guitar player, Blasphemer was an apt composer as well. Hence Mayhem took their time for replacing him with Morten Iversen (aka Teloch – ex-Gorgoroth/The Konsortium/Ov Hell), because he was still a member of Gorgoroth at that time. Together with Attila, they began composing new songs around 2012; songs that see Mayhem go through the motions of intelligent black metal, yet their craft remains unmatched.

To say that a band is going through the motions is a rather negative observation. However, this is not a black-or-white assessment for Mayhem anno 2014. Along with Thorns, Satyricon and Dodheimsgard, and their respective releases during the late ‘90s/early ‘00s (see recommended albums), Mayhem played a key role in the development of intelligent black metal in the 00s with their previous three albums. Esoteric Warfare stands somewhere in between them, on the grounds of the fantastic sound production, the mix of tendonitis-inducing and laid back/vapor-like riffing by Teloch, Hellhammer’s inhuman drumming, and the demented vocals of Attila Csihar. Regarding Attila, he sounds more “controlled” and “into the arrangements” than in Ordo Ad Chao, in which Mayhem merely repeated a riff, a drum beat or a vocal verse. Moreover, his lyrics form a loose, but pretty interesting concept around mind control and how it was practiced and exploited during the middle Ages and the last 150 years.

Despite being derivative, Esoteric Warfare is worthy of praise, because it keeps alive a sound practised by merely a handful of outfits, some of them inactive or sadly disbanded. The speeding segments of the album will shape a sardonic smile in those familiar with the modern black metal of the Thorns album, Aura Noir and their debut album or newer outfits such The Konsortium. Their adventurous coexistence (in the vein of Ordo Ad Chao) with the calmer, but chthonic portions brings forth the time when Ved Buens Ende were caressing the pale, the avant-garde rock approach of Norway's Virus, and Thorns in their early stages (the demo tapes). That’s that, though. Mayhem put to work every attribute that assessed black metal as something more than a mere 4-channel ear raping session, and took a small step backwards on their way for a potentially ground breaking follow-up album, 3++ years from now.



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user ratings (131)
Chart.
3.8
excellent
other reviews of this album
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Mayhems best release since De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas, and a fantastic display of creepy progressive ...


Comments:Add a Comment 
Voivod
Staff Reviewer
June 3rd 2014


6337 Comments

Album Rating: 3.7 | Sound Off

Album stream - http://seasonofmist.bandcamp.com/album/esoteric-warfare





As always, constructive criticism is most welcome.

Digging: Madred - Supersonic Brainfuck Overdrive

Evreaia
June 3rd 2014


4060 Comments


Very good review, I have yet to hear the album, but I think I might do it later.

emester
June 3rd 2014


4372 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Never been a fan of mayhem. This any better than their other stuff?

Digging: Skelator - King of Fear

Voivod
Staff Reviewer
June 3rd 2014


6337 Comments

Album Rating: 3.7 | Sound Off

Try this one, it's a great introduction to their sound.

And of course, check all their albums afterwards.

Atari
Contributing Reviewer
June 3rd 2014


20154 Comments


bassist Jorn Stubberud (aka Necrobutcher) argued that a prolonged time of absence (ca. 4 years) was mandatory, in order to fully harness a new style and realize it detail.


i think you meant realize "its detail" or realize it "in" detail. Just figured I'd point that out cause it reads kind of awkwardly. Nice review tho

Digging: Angels and Airwaves - The Dream Walker

Voivod
Staff Reviewer
June 3rd 2014


6337 Comments

Album Rating: 3.7 | Sound Off

^^Thanks for that, fixed.

Hyperion1001
Staff Reviewer
June 3rd 2014


19046 Comments


i get what youre trying to say with "intelligent black metal" but i think just calling progressively minded black metal is all you really need to use. it just doesnt sound right, the majority of black metal in general is pseudointellectual drivel anyways, so calling it "intelligent black metal" doesnt really adequately get the point youre trying to make across very successfully..

even though, like i said, i get what you mean by it, i just dont think its a very good way of actually saying it.

Digging: Objekt - Objekt #2

KriegdemKriege
June 3rd 2014


1411 Comments


I will be absolutely shocked if this is better than a 2.

Hyperion1001
Staff Reviewer
June 3rd 2014


19046 Comments


all mayhems albums are good, i dont really know why people praise shit like late era emperor and then say mayhems later stuff isnt good.

demigod!
June 3rd 2014


45252 Comments


hm i always stayed away from later mayhem lps cuz of their bad rep but i might change that. this album sounds interesting



Digging: Black Sabbath - Master of Reality

KriegdemKriege
June 3rd 2014


1411 Comments


It's a completely different band and style. Emperor and Mayhem really shouldn't be compared. Just because they were part of the same scene 20 years ago doesn't mean they make similar music.

Hyperion1001
Staff Reviewer
June 3rd 2014


19046 Comments


not true, both went down the progressively minded black metal path. it is absolutely a fair comparison.

Voivod
Staff Reviewer
June 3rd 2014


6337 Comments

Album Rating: 3.7 | Sound Off

@Hyperion1001

The term exists since the late '90s/early '00s for describing the (then) released albums by Dodheimsgard, Satyricon, Mayhem and Thorns.

Hyperion1001
Staff Reviewer
June 3rd 2014


19046 Comments


well ive certianly never heard or seen it used before, but if so then i guess it doesnt matter. i still dont think its a very good term to use to describe any black metal, especially mayhem.

manosg
June 3rd 2014


6690 Comments


Very good review Voivod.

I've only listened to De Mysteriis by those guys which was also the first black metal album I bought. I'll give this one a listen too.

Digging: Witchfynde - Give 'em Hell

Tyler
Emeritus
June 3rd 2014


7926 Comments


what the fuck is intelligent black metal?

demigod!
June 3rd 2014


45252 Comments


an oxymoron

Crysis
Staff Reviewer
June 3rd 2014


16478 Comments


still have to listen to this

SnakeDelilah
June 3rd 2014


9071 Comments


IBM

Digging: Foxing - The Albatross

treefingered2
June 3rd 2014


183 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

very good review, must say this is the coolest album I hav heard this year so far. Mayhem you do not dissapoint!



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