Twenty-five years on from De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas (Deathlike Silence) and Norwegian Black Metal act Mayhem still face the unenviable task of living up to their infamous debut. Steeped in arson and murder, the legend of De Mysteriis… will never be surpassed, but with new album Daemon (Century Media), the band have arguably crafted their finest collection of songs since that tumultuous time.
Featuring clear nods to their early material – and after coming off a tour where DMDS was played in full, that was always likely to happen – among the blackened slashing guitars which could easily have been lifted from Deathcrush (Deathlike Silence), the band has moved forwards. The two relatively newer members Teloch and Ghul are sounding more comfortable than they did on Esoteric Warfare (Season of Mist), with Ghul getting to show off some serious chops on the solo to ‘Bad Blood’
Beneath the ominous riffs and piledriving rhythm section, there also lies the sound of a band having fun, whether they care to admit it or not. Vocalist Attila Csihar roars, croaks, snarls, moans and wails his way through cuts like opener ‘The Dying False King’, the thunderously malevolent ‘Agenda Ignis’, and the explosive ‘Malum’ as only he can.
Elsewhere, the likes of ‘Aeon Daemonium’, ‘Daemon Spawn’, the graveyard menace of ‘Falsified and Hated’, and ‘Of Worms and Ruins’ contain a litany of riffs so poisonous they sound like they were just spewed back out of the cold, damp earth. Drummer Hellhammer is on top form, thrashing his kit into a blistered mess one moment, pounding slowly with apocalyptic purpose the next as Necrobutcher‘s bass pulses and throbs perniciously alongside him.
Atmosphere without bullshit, riffs without distraction, Daemon is Mayhem at their best. Stripped to the bone and ready for battle once again.
9 / 10