Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Best of 2007 - #14

14. mayhem - 'ordo ad chao'
Actually, if you don't mind me lapsing out of my Mr. Reviewer tone for a while, I've got the perfect real life episode to explain exactly what it feels like to listen to 'Ordo Ad Chao'. It was a night of intense, erm, alcohol sampling, and my friends who participated in the event stayed at my place, after locomotion slowly stopped being an option. One of them stayed on the sofa on the living room, where we had been listening to some music on an mp3 player, which was left on by forgetfulness. After a while, and we are talking about someone who's into the most fucked-up music you can think of, he woke up, uncomfortable and confused, from an unpleasant sleep, wondering what it was that was giving him such a nasty feeling. It turned out that the mp3 player that had been left on had reached 'Ordo Ad Chao'. Asleep or awake, this is exactly what this album will do to you. The way I see it, Mayhem have been searching for their direction ever since the black metal cornerstone that is 'De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas'. 'Wolf's Lair Abyss' was a blast, but a mini-album and one that they apparently didn't build on musically, 'Grand Declaration Of War' was ambitious but ultimately clumsy (and it hasn't aged at all well) and 'Chimaira' was just a forgettable, straightforward attempt at brutality. On 'Ordo Ad Chao', which, significantly, witnesses the return of 'De Mysteriis...''s vocalist Attila Csihar, is where Mayhem manage to combine all their previous misguided ambitions of necro ('Wolf's Lair'), weird avant-creepiness ('Grand Declaration') and boot-in-the-face ('Chimaira') into one fucking disturbing whole that is much more than the sum of those parts. This is above all an album of violent contrasts - for all the dissonant, angular and not obvious at all guitarwork (there are no riffs, as such, to speak of in the entire album), the sound is still horribly old-school necro-sounding, not quite on Darkthrone levels but close, which will alienate any post-something fan that might be attracted by the drone-like texture of the sound. Conversely, the structures are so atypical, combining silences, skewed drum patterns and Attila's inhuman throat sounds into a whole that will go far beyond the usual expectations of the regular black metal fan. It's useless to give you .mp3 sample songs, because this isn't an album that you can get by one song. Either you get the whole thing after living with it (and terrified by it, probably) for weeks, or you don't.

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