Mayhem’s Legendary and Tragic “De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas” Turns 25

Twenty-five years ago the world of the burgeoning global black metal scene was turned on its ear by Mayhem’s De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas (Deathlike Silence) album. Already a thing of legend before one note was heard, its infamy and musical value are intertwined for all time, causing a lot of debate in the music community of which is the focal point for proper critique. Can we have one without the other? Not likely. A lot of words have been spent on this topic be it the marketing hype, drama, and even other mediums have focused and tribute paid to the history of Mayhem, the members passed away, past and present and the events in the run-up to the release of De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas, so we are not going to use that space here again.

Taken on its merits musically, and considering everything that went into making this album, De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas is a masterpiece in bleak nihilism, extreme music songcraft, and the extrapolation of anti-religion, anti-establishmentism ethos smelted down through a narrow hateful centrifuge. They made the music that was the basis of an entire movement: True Norwegian Black Metal. Make no mistake, there was black metal before Mayhem, and this album happened, and then everything after.

Everyone has their favorite tracks on the album, and these songs have been covered and re-imagined countless times. Songs like ‘Funeral Fog’, ‘Freezing Moon’, ‘Cursed In Eternity’, ‘Life Eternal’, ‘Buried by Time and Dust’ and the epic title track are burned into the brains of fans who pick up guitars and write hateful, hopeless lyrics in notebooks everywhere today. For all the complaints about aesthetics and the tinny production (audiophiles – Black Metal is not made for you), the music is the thing that is thankfully the most memorable.

Often imitated and poorly copied by thousands of lesser bands, your band will never be as harsh, meticulous, and evil sounding as Mayhem is on this album. Their masterwork continues to rule and stand the test of time, somehow overcoming its well-documented and sordid past.

KEITH CHACHKES