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MAYHEM Ordo Ad Chao Season Of Mist (2008)


2007 will undoubtedly become a very significant year in the history of the cult Norwegian Black Metal outfit Mayhem. Not only is this unholy quartet back with a new full length release, namely "Ordo Ad Chao", but they also welcome back in their ranks the legendary frontman Attila Csihar - the man whose vocal contribution led to the ever increasing status of the all time classic album "De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas". Now, if that addition is not a guaranteed recipe for success, then I don't know what is - still, I decided to control my excitement and give this eight track release the same levels of 'critical' attention that I do to every release that I get to review.

If you were to provide a description of "Ordo Ad Chao" in comparison with the band's previous studio effort, then what you should really expect to listen to is an album that combines the atmosphere of "De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas" with the technical and progressive 'tendencies' of "Grand Declaration Of War". That is totally understandable seeing as the music of this album was composed once again in its entirety by guitarist Blasphemer and also by the fact that Attila Csihar has recorded some of his most twisted and sick screams/growls to date. With such strong attributes, "Ordo Ad Chao" should really satisfy both the band's old and new fans alike, leaving the overall quality of production as the only questionable element of this release. Much as I find myself bewitched by the eerie/gloomy musical frequencies that spew out of my stereo speakers every time I listen to this album, I do believe that the members of Mayhem could have made "Ordo Ad Chao" sounding more intense and direct, had they chosen not to sacrifice power to the benefit of atmosphere.

The album kicks off with "A Wise Birthgiver" - a mid tempo atmospheric composition filled with weird guitar/keyboard sounds and Attila's death grunts and whose purpose is to gradually build up an atmosphere hospitable to the seven remaining compositions. In "Wall Of Water" you have a composition whose epic-sounding opening theme and furiously paced guitar/drum parts are typical of Mayhem's trademark style. The song betrays the band's decision to invest in compositions which are based on the constant manipulation of rhythm, moving from hyperfast blast beats to slow atmospheric parts with impressive ease, while always retaining a coherent atmosphere and tight structure. This same strategy that has been employed in the creation of compositions, such as "Deconsecrate", "Psychic Horns" and "Anti", and in doing so has given the whole project a sense of coherence and musical continuity that you normally expect to find in a concept album. Compositions that do stand out, in my opinion, are the furiously aggressive "Great Works Of Ages", "Key To The Storms" and "Illuminate Eliminate" - a nine and a half minute composition whose epic anthemic riffs, brilliantly performed chaotic vocals and complex drum arrangements will almost certainly assert it as a Mayhem classic in the years to come.

It really hurts me to know that the reason why I cannot grant this release with the highest possible rating is not directly related to the compositions themselves. Musically speaking "Ordo Ad Chao" is a masterpiece that may sound slightly difficult to digest at first, especially to those of you whose main musical interest revolves around the early 90s Black Metal scene, yet it can be proven to be a very loyal 'friend', providing that you are willing to entrust yourself to its many unique 'qualities'. A new dawn begins for Mayhem and that really couldn't make me any happier!


Review by John Stefanis


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**** Out of this world | **** Pretty damn fine |
*** OK, approach with caution unless you are a fan |
** Instant bargain bin fodder | * Ugly. Just ugly

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