Scrolling through the many years of threads in the Black Metal sub-forum, you can imagine my horror upon discovering that there was no specifically DEADicated thread for one of the most significant bands the genre has ever seen, Mayhem.
It's no secret around here that Mayhem are my favourite band, pound for pound, and I think they deserve a place where people can discuss, praise, criticise, and ridicule as users see fit. To kick things off I'm re-posting a list that was buried (by time and dust) deep in another thread in the General Discussion forum. I hope my repetition is taken in the spirit in which it is intended: as an introduction to discussion. Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you....
Requiem’s Ranking of Mayhem's Official Releases, Both Studio and Live, from Worst to Best:
12. Ordo ad Chao - Studio Album (2007)
The final album to feature performance and songwriting by Blasphemer is a difficult pill to swallow. I know a few fans who bravely champion this release, and I do like it in many ways, but the deliberately unorthodox sound - which is dense and harder to penetrate than Queen Elizabeth - makes this more of a work of art than a collection of tunes. Attila's wails are ok, and Hellhammer plows away, miraculously keeping time to this anti-rhythmic beast, but I struggle to make head and tail of the whole thing. I actually own a shirt of this, too. Cool album cover.
11. Esoteric Warfare - Studio Album (2014)
The most recent studio album is also pretty disappointing. It feels a bit insincere, having called in Teloch to play guitar and write all the music. I'm just not sure about bands who do this - getting the new member to completely write the new album. I know this is basically how 'Wolf's Lair Abyss' came into existence, but 'Esoteric' feels like a cover band in many ways. There are some good songs here, although the sound is firmly rooted in the technical modernity introduced by Blasphemer and if you don't like sterile post-Soviet machinations in your music, you're going to struggle. There's no warmth or graveyard atmosphere here. Attila's trying different things with the lyrics, and fair enough, but they're hardly engaging. Dodgy looking cover in that unattractive brown colour.
10. De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas Alive - Live Album (2016)
This recent live release, however, brings the goods. Originally only available from the band's website, the songs are all time classics and the production here is fantastic, as the current line-up admirably plays through the classic album from first track to last. But with guitarists Teloch and Ghul sounding like a couple of blokes down at the Guitar Centre playing the riffs, it doesn't quite have the magic of the source material. It's a great little release, although hardly life changing or overly meaningful. The excellent purplish cover based on the original is tasty and haunting.
9. European Legions - Live/Pre-Production Studio Album (2001)
Half a live album with the Maniac/Blasphemer line-up, with the other half made up of pre-production tracks from 'Grand Declaration of War', this is a competent and unexpected release that sounds great and captures the band's live aggression very effectively. The half-baked versions of album songs are surprisingly listenable. This was also released as 'US Legions'. It's an odd little half and halfer, but I really like it. Cover is a nice play on the 'Grand Declaration...' theme.
8. Chimera - Studio Album (2004)
After the experimental 'Grand Declaration...' album, this was more focused, tighter and heavier, but ultimately not quite as good. Songs like 'My Death' are amazing, with the whole band on fire and generally communicating the essence of the band very well. Great production and some iconic band member portraits in the awesome gatefold style CD digipak that I have. The cover is a very mysteriis beast that isn't really a Chimera but looks cool all the same. The inlay photo of those nuns running away from something is fucking amazing.
7. Mediolanum Capta Est - Live Album (1999)
A stunning live album, Maniac and Blasphemer have a maniacal fire in their blaspheming bellies as they razor-wire their way through the songs. It always amazes me how this band have had genuinely great guitarist/vocalist doubles - with the unfortunate exception of the current era. This release has all the band's best tracks played with great passion. Amazing to think this came out only 6 years after Euronymous' death. Iconic cover of Maniac in full self-harming mode, sliding a blade down his torso. These days we get Watain with their 'evil' contact lenses...
6. Wolf's Lair Abyss - Studio EP (1997)
Hard to believe this came out only 4 years after Euronymous' death! By today's release standards it would be virtually unthinkable that it would come out so soon. This EP features only Hellhammer from the previous release ('De Mysteriis...') which is a hell of a thing when you think about how good 'Wolf's Lair' is (obviously Necrobutcher and Maniac have been members/contributors prior to this, so it's not as if they're new). Songs like 'Fall of Seraphs' and 'Ancient Skin' have the feel. Blasphemer deserves so much credit in my book. Cover is a simple band logo style that's effective and unpretentious and the fold-out inlay is simply killer.
5. Live in Zeitz - Live Album (2016)
Recorded with the classic line-up of Dead, Euro, Necro and Hellsy, I was very excited when I found out Peaceville were releasing it officially (now we just have to wait for the Sarpsborg show to follow suit). This is one of the four live shows featuring Dead (I'm not counting Turkey which only lasted a couple of songs), and it's oh so special because of that fact. The production here is very poor, understandably, as it's obviously been pulled from some musty and degrading tape somewhere, but the songs and the charisma of the performers remain untainted. Cover is a great shot of Euronymous but it's ultimately fairly poorly presented. The colours suck and I think Peaceville could have done better. Liner notes are great though.
4. Grand Declaration of War - Studio Album (2000)
They needed to do something quite radical in this full-length follow-up to the genre classic. They could have ripped off the old sound or done something new, and they took the hard road, but wow what an outcome. This album is so much fun to listen to, with Maniac's pompous oratory, Hellhammer's insanely triggered drums, Blasphemer's eclectic riffage and poor old Necrobutcher's bass somewhere in the background, 'And Justice for All' style. This is a great achievement, and triumphs even more in 2018 than it did in 2000 when I first bought it. Iconic cover of the dove in barbed wire. Amazing.
3. Deathcrush - Studio EP (1987)
Their first release is so goddamn good, I can't get over it. Like a fine wine, it gets better every year. Maniac's vocals are insane and bless my heart Euronymous twists those riffs like only he can. The intro 'Silvester Anfang' haunts my dreams to this day, and nothing can ever take away the memory of hearing those first tones pump out when I saw the band live for the first time in 2001. Famously, the first pressing of this had the disturbing but cool artwork come out in bright pink rather than blood red in a classic Spinal Tap moment.
2. Live in Liepzig - Live Album (1993)
Similar set to the 'Zeitz' show, but this one just has a sheen of quality to it that moves it from interesting document into absolute classic. The classic line-up, the classic songs, the classic intro to 'Freezing Moon': "When it's cold, and when it's dark....". Probably the best black metal cover of all time with Dead carrying that candelabrum. This is Dead's true epitaph. The atmosphere in this would have to be the best of any live release I've heard. It's almost haunting.
1. De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas - Studio Album (1994)
And here it is. The perfect black metal album? Let's see. The perfect Grieghallen production by Pytten. The perfect drum sound and performance. The perfect riffs. The perfect songs. The perfect song order. The perfect singer? Depends - Attila has huge credibility, but his voice isn't for everyone. It really fits here though. Chilling album artwork. An achievement. A pinnacle. A triumph. Hail Euronymous.
What do forum users think of Mayhem?