Mayhem — Daemon
Five years after releasing Esoteric Warfare (review), legendart Norweigan black metallers Mayhem are back with their 6th studio album. Daemon is also the second record to be written without lead songwriter "Blasphemer" in the band, instead helmed by guitarists Teloch and Ghul. Despite only drummer Hellhammer and bassist Necrobutcher remaining from the band's original line-up, Mayhem still sound like the same band. Well, for the most part...
Actually, this is part of the problem. Not that the material doesn't retain the distinctive Mayhem sound, but rather this record sounds like a lot of material the band has already released. Daemon is still a very competent, listenable album, but for a band that has so few studio records — and constantly evolved from album to album — this is a bit of a letdown. Esoteric Warfare had a similar issue, although I wrote that off as a band still acclimating to a significant change in song writing personnel. At this point, these guys have been working together for over half a decade — the growing pains are surely over.
The record opens with "The Dying False King," which has a very strong Dom Mysteriis Dom Sathanas (review) vibe to it. The material is very raw and harkens back to the band's genre-defining album, but it's not a carbon copy. There are plenty of blast beats and classic tremolo runs on tracks like "Falsified And Hated," "Bad Blood," and "Malum" — Mayhem certainly have not mellowed. The guitar riffs are searing, the drums are bludgeoning, and Attila Csihar sounds as vicious and evil as ever. While I lament the apparent step backward, the musicianship and compositions on Daemon are anything but lazy or phoned in.
Daemon alternates between callbacks to De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas and Grand Declaration Of War (review). The latter's influence is most notable on cuts like "Worthless Abominations Destroyed," where Attila's chants and clean voice echo out as the song ends. There is also a good mix of short, concise tracks and lengthier cuts, such as "Aeon Daemonium" and "Daemon Spawn," which both clock in at 6 minutes.
There is something on Daemon for everyone, even if the material seems more retrospective than any of Mayhem's previous work. It's also fair to say that this is not the same band that created the more experimental works of the past. It seems clear, now, that "Blasphemer" was responsible for pushing the boundaries of Mayhem's song writing. What remains in his stead is a talented group drawing on a rich history in a scene built on their earlier works, largely composed by ex-members. What Daemon lacks in innovation it makes up for in raw brutality and quality riffs.
The album runs 49 minutes, and there are a pair of bonus tracks on the streaming and limited edition versions of the album. The bonus material is just as good as anything else on Daemon, but by no means is this another classic in the discography. This is a strong effort from Mayhem, but a letdown for anyone expecting another ambitious record like Ordo Ad Chao.
A respectable entry in the Mayhem discography, but much less adventurous than much of the band's prior work. Daemon feels very familiar, like a slightly improved version of its predecessor, Esoteric Warfare. For a band that set a standard of never releasing anything close to the same album twice, it seems as though Mayhem are content to operate within their niche and release less experimental work now. A good album but well below the band's high watermark of experimentation on Ordo Ad Chao (review) or even Chimera (review).
Release date: October 25th, 2019
Record label: Century Media Records
Attila Csihar — vocals
Teloch — guitar
Ghul — guitar
Necrobutcher — bass
Hellhammer — drums
- The Dying False King
- Agenda Ignis
- Bad Blood
- Falsified And Hated
- Aeon Daemonium
- Worthless Abominations Destroyed
- Daemon Spawn
- Of Worms And Ruins
- Invoke The Oath
Published: December 11th, 2019.