The Rickety Old Shack

Mayhem — Ordo Ad Chao

album cover

Featuring the return of Attila Csihar, who had not performed with the band since 1994's De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas (review), Mayhem brought their new / old vocalist to bear on yet another dense collection of sinister, blackened metal in Order Ad Chao. As with everything the band does, this new record would incorporate elements of both new and old Mayhem and push the band's sound and creative output forward. Also of note, Ordo Ad Chao does not feature any bass tracks recorded by founding member Necrobutcher, even though he remains with the band to this day. In spite of these changes, however, the resulting album still sounds every bit like a genuine Mayhem effort.

Right away, Order Ad Chao establishes a more stripped-down, raw production than any recent Mayhem album. I believe Hellhammer was quoted as calling the production "necro as fuck," if you want a more concise description. This isn't to say this record sounds like Deathcrush (review) but the mix is a lot muddier and there is less overall studio polish on the tracks. Everything is still audible, although the guitars do sound a little thin. The drums are also a little pervasive, especially the double-kicks which are heavily triggered. The production aesthetic works in the context of the album, however, and doesn't detract from the material itself. I do prefer the cleaner, richer sound of albums like Chimera (review) and the re-issued Grand Declaration Of War (review), but this record is still very listenable and its distinct sound helps give the it its own identity.

Compositionally, the band continues to indulge the more experimental side of their song-writing, including their longest cut to date — and one of the best tracks on the record — the 9:40 "Illuminate Eliminate." Attila Csihar's vocal performance is downright terrifying, as he lends the most pained and tortured howls and wretches to the tracks, sometimes in the traditional role of a vocalist and in other cases lending textural sounds to sinister instrumental passages. Much of Csihar's performance on this record is evocative of his work with drone masters Sunn O))) as well as his past tenure with the band. Csihar's versatility as an extreme metal vocalist works very well with the band's penchant for abrupt tempo and atmosphere changes on this record.

A lot of Ordo Ad Chao is slower than any material in Mayhem's discography, opting for mood building and atmospheric effect, while still serving up ample doses of crushing riffs and black metal fury. As per usual, each track progresses through distinct sections all tied together around a central riff idea. The material flows seamlessly from one song to the next, without any of the cuts falling into any sort of traditional verse / chorus / verse structure. The sprawling, vast nature of Mayhem's modern compositions continues to evolve on this record, with even greater emphasis on the textural and background sounds during the downtempo passages. The heavy parts are incredibly massive and violent, while the rest of the song writing embraces a twisted sense of melody and atmosphere to great effect. The spartan production job does in fact accentuate the raw, visceral feel of the record so I can see why the band opted to go this route.

The more things change, the more they stay the same; even when Mayhem reaches into the past for a vocalist, they still manage to evolve and progress as musicians. Ordo Ad Chao features as much of the classic line-up as possible — absent a time machine and / or a cure for 23 stab wounds — yet the end result is a record every bit in line with the band's more recent, avant garde efforts. Attila, lending lyrics for the first time in his tenure with the band, takes the material in a more paranormal and extraterrestrial direction, eschewing the Satanic and religious themes of past vocalists and lyricists. This record feels both old, new and distinctly Mayhem; another solid effort from a group of black metal legends.

Summary

Boasting the return of vocalist Attila Csihar, Mayhem release their follow-up to 2004's Chimera and pick up where they left off. The band continues to dabble in longer songs, and more experimental song structures, while still retaining the nihilistic core of their identity. Featuring a rugged, "necro" production style, Ordo Ad Chao isn't a throwback but rather a modern Mayhem album produced with consideration for the atmospheric qualities of a dirtier, less polished recording. What this album lacks in relentless brutality it makes up for in measured violence and compositions with exceptional pacing and flow to them. The album's title translates to "order and chaos," which concisely sums up its contents.

Album Information

Release date: April 16th, 2007
Record label: Season Of Mist

Attila Csihar — vocals
Blasphemer — guitar, bass
Hellhammer — drums

Track Listing

  1. A Wise Birthgiver
  2. Wall Of Water
  3. Great Work Of Ages
  4. Deconsecrate
  5. Illuminate Eliminate
  6. Psychic Horns
  7. Key To The Storms
  8. Anti

Link: shopusa.season-of-mist.com

—by Derek

Published: February 4th, 2019.