Mayhem
Esoteric Warfare


3.5
great

Review

by Robert Garland CONTRIBUTOR (196 Reviews)
June 15th, 2014 | 24 replies | 874 views


Release Date: 06/10/2014 | Tracklist

Review Summary: There’s nothing quite like infamy.

It’s a bit of a non-statement but if you’re a fan of black metal, there’s a great chance that you’ve heard of Mayhem. With a history drenched in iconic albums, ironic deaths, prison sentences and a hiatus that would see purists everywhere curl up in the foetal position, it’s hard to imagine that a band so steeped in off-stage drama would still be able to create a record so relevant in this modern day of metal. This may sound a little unfair given their sound hasn’t really changed at a superficial level, rather it’s moved naturally, making the most of each experience holding a true testament to the black metal that influenced so many bands after the fact. Sure, I may just be pigeon-holing this slightly, but the basic logic holds true. Mayhem’s 2014 release still holds more viability than most modern acts trying to recapture the old spark of black metal in its apparent heyday.

Esoteric Warfare is a no remorse, no mercy display of black metal. For most, this new Mayhem (line-up included) is a welcome, predictable sound. It goes to show that a band doesn’t need to re-invent itself after a decent break, rather Esoteric Warfare employs a somewhat progressive nature to their traditional black metal ideals, giving more life to their music than ridiculous clichés and half-assed shoe-gaze. The ‘new’-Mayhem have avoided the modern day trends and stuck to what they know, making a record that compliments an infamous back catalogue.

As a separate record, it’s already clear that this stands above most of the modern day drivel found throughout today’s music, but how does it stack up when compared to the rest of the band’s releases? Well, it’s unlikely we’ll ever see the fabled De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas again, but Esoteric Warfare holds a place of its own above the likes of the more recent Chimera and Ordo Ad Chao making the album Mayhem desperately needed. Despite holding a pioneering name in metal, it’s hard to pin-point Mayhem’s Esoteric Warfare down to a singular soundscape. Make no mistake, there’s nothing odd about it, it’s just an intelligent compliment to its own sound. Mayhem’s 2014 release is as minimal as it is full-on, as dissonant as it smooth (such a weird way to describe the harsh tones and shrieked vocals), but deep down it’s what Mayhem listeners’ wanted. Filled with atmospheric tension and sinister tones, Mayhem continue to define their strangle hold on metal as a whole. It may not have the same impact as it used to, but at least the group is rubbing the dust off the rusty throne.

With a run time of just over fifty minutes, Esoteric Warfare manages to tie the listener to a single spot. Its mere presence is suffocating, full of tension and prevents a need for escape. There’s a sense of urgency, creating just enough of a need to slow things down. It’s intelligent by design, backed by a wealth of experience. It’s ironic that Mayhem’s brand of black metal is not for everyone, it sure as hell should be. For those who missed the message all those years ago, Esoteric Warfare isn’t a bad place to start. Forget the preconceptions about black metal being raw and unlistenable. Mayhem is far from pretentious, and their 2014 release has a wealth of replay value. If you like anything ‘old-school’, the real thing will do you so much better. For Mayhem circa 2014, the chair is not as rusty as it was after removing the dust. Esoteric Warfare presents a sound worthy of the mantle again, crushed skulls and all.



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Mayhems best release since De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas, and a fantastic display of creepy progressive ...

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Comments:Add a Comment 
NocteDominum
Contributing Reviewer
June 15th 2014



6923 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I'm still here.

Sup Sputnik?

emester
June 15th 2014



1980 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

First review in a while i see?

Yeah never liked mayhem but im enjoying this so far

Digging: Overkill - White Devil Armory

NocteDominum
Contributing Reviewer
June 15th 2014



6923 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

First review in a while i see?


Definitely, I've been doing some work for my zine, but even that slowed down. I needed to stop for a bit. It's not like the old days where I could do 2-3 reviews a day, it was better just to listen to music and enjoy it rather than analyse everything.

Spec
June 15th 2014



27051 Comments


Can't believe how much I enjoy this.

BMDrummer
June 15th 2014



3858 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

I'm thinking about checking out, seems like it could be kinda good

Digging: Svffer - Lies We Live

NocteDominum
Contributing Reviewer
June 15th 2014



6923 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

It is kinda cool. : ]

TPM731
June 15th 2014



215 Comments


I swear, I'm sick of people using the word "relevant" in music reviews. If you're trying to articulate that idea, you should instead say "a record of this caliber" or "volatility" or something else depending on the context. The way it's worded makes it seem that whoever is using it is insufferably pretentious and believes themselves to be the highest authority in music.

NocteDominum
Contributing Reviewer
June 15th 2014



6923 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I swear, I'm sick of people using the word "relevant" in music reviews. If you're trying to articulate that idea, you should instead say "a record of this caliber" or "volatility" or something else depending on the context.


Read the last line of that, they all mean something different. The caliber of a subject matter may not determine its relevance.

Telling a reviewer (anybody for that matter) that they shouldn't have an opinion or act as an "authority in music" is ridiculous. Why would you read the review if you weren't looking for an opinion?

TPM731
June 15th 2014



215 Comments


I didn't intend to say that. I'm just protesting the use of the word "relevant". There are plenty of other ways to assert your opinions that are a bit more descriptive, and, in my opinion, less pretentious.

I understand what you're saying, but please define "relevance" in the context of music.

NocteDominum
Contributing Reviewer
June 15th 2014



6923 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

You're point would have been said better with: "I see the word 'relevance' used a lot in reviews these days, I feel there are better ways of making a point".

I'll add that it's defined here, not just in that paragraph but throughout the review. I've made a point about acts trying to recapture the older ways, but missing the mark. There's also a point about modern metal's trends and how Mayhem can still be just as viable as a band as all these new names.

If you had said that "relevance" is a tired line, I would have understood you better, it's in no way pretentious. : ]

TPM731
June 15th 2014



215 Comments


I'm sorry. I tend to get a bit out of hand when I see it used, because I find it to be one of the most vapid phrases you could possibly use.

NocteDominum
Contributing Reviewer
June 15th 2014



6923 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

the most vapid phrases you could possibly use.


You also tend to over-exaggerate.

TPM731
June 15th 2014



215 Comments


I really hate the word. And besides, it's just my opinion.

NocteDominum
Contributing Reviewer
June 15th 2014



6923 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Right, you heards da Mayhem?

TPM731
June 16th 2014



215 Comments


I've only heard one song, "Funeral Fog" on YouTube. I plan to listen to them more soon.

Voivod
Staff Reviewer
June 16th 2014



5905 Comments

Album Rating: 3.7 | Sound Off

Great review, mindpos.

Digging: The Golden Grass - The Golden Grass

NocteDominum
Contributing Reviewer
June 16th 2014



6923 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Thanks Vo, I'd 3.7 this given the chance.



ScuroFantasma
June 16th 2014



1121 Comments


Your first paragraph made me google the band and wow. They've certainly had an interesting history. Excellent review too.

"but deep down it’s the Mayhem listeners’ wanted"

Missing a 'what' in there

Digging: Equilibrium - Erdentempel

NocteDominum
Contributing Reviewer
June 16th 2014



6923 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I see I'm a word. Good spot I'll fix.

ExplosiveOranges
June 16th 2014



1338 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Woah. New NocteDominum review.

Digging: Seven Lions - Worlds Apart



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