Rating:
9.0
Mayhem - Esoteric Warfare
6 June 2014


01. Watchers
02. Psywar
03. Trinity
04. Pandaemon
05. MILAB
06. VI.Sec.
07. Throne Of Time
08. Corpse Of Care
09. Posthuman
10. Aion Suntalia
11. From Beyond The Event Horizon [Japanese bonus]
12. Into The Lifeless [LP & CD Collector's Box bonus]


Seven long years passed since the game-changer that was Ordo Ad Chao got released. It was an extremely complex album with a sound so different from what Mayhem (or any other band for that matter) had done before, that a somewhat mixed reaction was to be expected. I gladly put my tent on the fan camp though. This is why Blasphemer's departure worried me as it turned more difficult to guess how the final product would sound like…

…But as "Watcher" started, doubts were erased and expectations were met. Esoteric Warfare takes up nicely where Ordo Ad Chao left off. Most of the classic elements that justifies the band's name can be found here: The penetrating and disorienting riffs with their beloved dissonance, a disturbing tension that rarely lets go, the band's clever use of quiet moments to further elevate the presence of chaos. It's clear that Mayhem kept that precious attention to detail that was found in their previous album in order to make once again intriguing structures and give each song its identity.

While the guitars and bass are performed in a fantastic manner, the most astounding factors of this album have to be the drums and vocals. Hellhammer shows once again why he's one of the most renowned drummers in the genre. The incredible versatility, speed and order in what at first just appears chaotic make his delivering almost frightening, serving as a good element of tension throughout the album. Attila… Well, what more can we say about him by now? He provides with more than just vocals. His voice serves as another instrument and layer for the band. Deep lows, glass-crushing screeches, commanding screams and disturbing whispers. He does it all and so much more. From now on there shouldn't be any doubts regarding which vocalist truly owns Mayhem's voice.

So let's recap and look at the big picture. This is a band that has been around for three friggin decades. They are veterans and a huge part of the black metal culture in general. Everyone can say what they want about Mayhem's five full-lengths but it's worth remembering that all of them cover so many different elements, so many different styles of black metal over the years. Despite all of that, they still retain what can only be called their own sound while reinventing themselves and what black metal can be over and over again. They remain not only unique but also relevant to the scene. How many pioneers can say the same thing?

Performance: 9
Songwriting: 9
Originality: 9
Production: 9


Band profile: Mayhem
Album: Esoteric Warfare


 


written by Mr. Doctor | 17.06.2014



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ManiacBlasphemer - 17.06.2014 at 13:07  
Great review. It resonated a lot with my thoughts regarding this album. Mayhem is not capable of disappointing.
!J.O.O.E.! - 17.06.2014 at 13:09  
Still kicking everyone's ass. What an album.
Marcel Hubregtse - 17.06.2014 at 13:20  
Written by ManiacBlasphemer on 17.06.2014 at 13:07

Mayhem is not capable of disappointing.


Actually they are. Remember Chimera?
And live they disappoint loads of times as well. Mayhem live is a hit or miss affair unfortunately.
!J.O.O.E.! - 17.06.2014 at 13:25  
Written by Marcel Hubregtse on 17.06.2014 at 13:20

Actually they are. Remember Chimera?
And live they disappoint loads of times as well. Mayhem live is a hit or miss affair unfortunately.

Yep, Chimera was very mediocre.

I'm hoping one I'll see them on a good day live.
ManiacBlasphemer - 17.06.2014 at 13:35  
Written by Marcel Hubregtse on 17.06.2014 at 13:20

Written by ManiacBlasphemer on 17.06.2014 at 13:07

Mayhem is not capable of disappointing.


Actually they are. Remember Chimera?
And live they disappoint loads of times as well. Mayhem live is a hit or miss affair unfortunately.


That's you opinion, I liked Chimera. A slight disappointment was GDoW. But live it sounds great. And I do not share the same view about their live shows. They are theatrical and it attracts attention, it is not the common headbanging feast but it is a feast for the eyes. And Attila is a great vocalist. They have their good and bad times like any other band, but at least studio wise they never disappointed, at least in my view.
!J.O.O.E.! - 17.06.2014 at 13:37  
Written by ManiacBlasphemer on 17.06.2014 at 13:35

That's you opinion, I liked Chimera. A slight disappointment was GDoW. But live it sounds great. And I do not share the same view about their live shows. They are theatrical and it attracts attention, it is not the common headbanging feast but it is a feast for the eyes. And Attila is a great vocalist. They have their good and bad times like any other band, but at least studio wise they never disappointed, at least in my view.

Attila is theatrical, the rest of the band, when I saw them, couldn't have looked more bored and uninterested, and made no effort from a visual point of view.
Marcel Hubregtse - 17.06.2014 at 13:38  
GDoW was a great at times even brilliant album and then comes the run of the mill a dime a dozen Chimera so that one really disappointed.

I have seen Mayhem about ten times live now and only twice were they any good the other times they ranged from bad to truly atrocious. Yes they are theatrical that's not the problem. If they deliver their own music totally shitty than the concert is shitty no matter how grand the theatrics are.
Mr. Doctor - 17.06.2014 at 14:12  
I'm actually one of those who enjoyed Chimare quite a bit. It's definitely Mayhem's worst album with some songs being boring, monotonous and appear to not go anywhere but half the songs are actually nice but just not as interesting as everything else they've done. My biggest complain would be the production. It just doesn't really match well with the music.
ManiacBlasphemer - 17.06.2014 at 14:49  
Written by Marcel Hubregtse on 17.06.2014 at 13:38

GDoW was a great at times even brilliant album and then comes the run of the mill a dime a dozen Chimera so that one really disappointed.

I have seen Mayhem about ten times live now and only twice were they any good the other times they ranged from bad to truly atrocious. Yes they are theatrical that's not the problem. If they deliver their own music totally shitty than the concert is shitty no matter how grand the theatrics are.


Dunno, I really liked Chimera, even today I still check out My Death, Chimera, Whore or Rape Humanity With Pride. I have a tough time listening to GDoW. The studio version is crap to be honest, but live it is great. Anyway, I loved most of what Mayhem did, both old and recent works. I've only seemed them like 4-5 times live and except for once, I was not disappointed. But then again a Mayhem concert is supposed to be a little bit different.
Apothecary - 17.06.2014 at 17:14  
Just started spinning through it yesterday and it's getting a solid 8 from me so far. Total continuation of OAC and as usual, Hellhammer and Attila are amazing. I like how you said from now on there shouldn't be any doubts as to who's the true owner of Mayhem's voice. People go on and on about Dead and shit, when in reality Attila far outclasses him on vocal abilities, and I've always attributed most of his popularity to the pure shock value of his personality anyway. Great album and great review, I can tell this is gonna be a 2014 highlight..... but, inevitably, due to the band's popularity, it's gonna be overhyped to some degree. Definitely don't think the band are still kicking everyone's ass, for instance.
!J.O.O.E.! - 17.06.2014 at 17:37  
Written by Apothecary on 17.06.2014 at 17:14

Just started spinning through it yesterday and it's getting a solid 8 from me so far. Total continuation of OAC and as usual, Hellhammer and Attila are amazing. I like how you said from now on there shouldn't be any doubts as to who's the true owner of Mayhem's voice. People go on and on about Dead and shit, when in reality Attila far outclasses him on vocal abilities, and I've always attributed most of his popularity to the pure shock value of his personality anyway. Great album and great review, I can tell this is gonna be a 2014 highlight..... but, inevitably, due to the band's popularity, it's gonna be overhyped to some degree. Definitely don't think the band are still kicking everyone's ass, for instance.

Hell, it's the best black metal album from this year by far, possibly last year too.
Apothecary - 17.06.2014 at 17:46  
Written by !J.O.O.E.! on 17.06.2014 at 17:37

Hell, it's the best black metal album from this year by far, possibly last year too.

I can agree with either this or Tekeli-Li for this year so far, sure. Emptiness is also high up there, if you want to call that black metal. In regards to last year though, I'd probably take Cult Of Fire and the Carpe Noctem debut over Mayhem. Just my interpretation of the situation, brah.
Alex Fenger - 17.06.2014 at 17:51  
Written by !J.O.O.E.! on 17.06.2014 at 17:37

Hell, it's the best black metal album from this year by far, possibly last year too.

I easily put Tekel-Li above Esoteric Warfare, but then again that album has quickly become one of my favorite releases of all time, so that shouldn't be surprising. This really is an unbelievable release however, and completely on-par with Ordo Ad Chao in my opinion. God I love Mayhem
!J.O.O.E.! - 17.06.2014 at 18:03  
Written by Apothecary on 17.06.2014 at 17:46

I can agree with either this or Tekeli-Li for this year so far, sure. Emptiness is also high up there, if you want to call that black metal. In regards to last year though, I'd probably take Cult Of Fire and the Carpe Noctem debut over Mayhem. Just my interpretation of the situation, brah.

I agree that some of those are just as good, well Cult of Fire anyway, but Mayhem, unlike many of those, are pretty much pure black metal in a more "true" sense (Carpe Noctem being a probable exception) which is what makes it so impressive. They're continually redefining black metal without absorbing much other discernible influence (possibly some Ved Buens Ende) which in this day and age puts it above other bands in terms of achievement. That's how I see it any way and what I meant by kicking everyone else's backside. Tekel-Li is excellent, but it feels less distinct and unique, like a combination of recent movements of black metal. Evolutionary, rather then revolutionary perhaps.
Apothecary - 17.06.2014 at 18:14  
Written by !J.O.O.E.! on 17.06.2014 at 18:03

They're continually redefining black metal without absorbing much other discernible influence, which in this day and age puts it above other bands in terms of achievement. T

Good observation, I can totally agree with that. Lotta black metal these days seems to be looking for originality in blending with non-BM influences, but something about Mayhem is just raw black metal without it being a cliche, still having a high degree of artistic merit and distinction. I'll have to give this a few more playthroughs, it'll likely grow on me as I have nothing but immense respect for Attila and Hellhammer as musicians.
Metal George - 17.06.2014 at 22:56  
Every mayhem album may be different because of line-up changes but still hold my interest in black metal. very few black metal bands can do that. Mayhem i applaud you.
mz - 18.06.2014 at 00:28  
Written by Metal George on 17.06.2014 at 22:56

Every mayhem album may be different because of line-up changes .


Not really. Mayhem are relatively stable. Moreover, there are bands which change members a lot but their sound does not evolve that much.
M C Vice - 18.06.2014 at 06:44  
Looks like I should keep quiet about this album.

Written by mz on 18.06.2014 at 00:28

Written by Metal George on 17.06.2014 at 22:56

Every mayhem album may be different because of line-up changes .

Not really. Mayhem are relatively stable. Moreover, there are bands which change members a lot but their sound does not evolve that much.

grand Declaration... and Chimera have the same lineup, although no one has appeared on every Mayhem release and only Hellhammer has been on every album.
Dangerboner - 18.06.2014 at 10:00  
Written by Marcel Hubregtse on 17.06.2014 at 13:38

I have seen Mayhem about ten times live now and only twice were they any good the other times they ranged from bad to truly atrocious. Yes they are theatrical that's not the problem. If they deliver their own music totally shitty than the concert is shitty no matter how grand the theatrics are.

Just out of curiosity, out of the ten times you saw Mayhem live, how many were at festivals or large outdoor events? I saw them once in a small-ish venue about 2 or 3 years ago and it was one of the best experiences of my life.
Erik M. - 19.06.2014 at 21:47  
Written by !J.O.O.E.! on 17.06.2014 at 17:37

Hell, it's the best black metal album from this year by far, possibly last year too.


The best BM album of 2014 is still Nasheim's debut, for me.

This album is great, but someone the 2nd half of the album is less interesting to me than the first half. 8-8.5 material for me so far, while the debut is 9-9.5 material. De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas still blows this and Ordo Ad Chao away in my opinion.
mz - 20.06.2014 at 00:47  
Written by Erik M. on 19.06.2014 at 21:47

De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas still blows this and Ordo Ad Chao away in my opinion.

Not to diss DMDS but you are simply wrong.
Ah ok that's your opinion
Lit. - 20.06.2014 at 02:40  
Written by Erik M. on 19.06.2014 at 21:47

De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas still blows

All I read.
Erik M. - 21.06.2014 at 01:28  
Written by mz on 20.06.2014 at 00:47

Not to diss DMDS but you are simply wrong.
Ah ok that's your opinion


Indeed it's my opinion. DMDS is a total classic and quite a groundbreaking album, while OAC and this one are not.

Written by Lit. on 20.06.2014 at 02:40

Written by Erik M. on 19.06.2014 at 21:47

De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas still blows

All I read.


You can't possibly be serious. I rate DMDS at least a full point higher than Esoteric Warfare (so an 8.5 and 9.5, roughly).
Troy Killjoy - 21.06.2014 at 10:35  
Written by Erik M. on 21.06.2014 at 01:28

You can't possibly be serious. I rate DMDS at least a full point higher than Esoteric Warfare (so an 8.5 and 9.5, roughly).

i don't rate eithe rthat high but agree hthis isnt as good as de mysterius whatever
mz - 21.06.2014 at 13:38  
Written by Troy Killjoy on 21.06.2014 at 10:35

i don't rate eithe rthat high but agree hthis isnt as good as de mysterius whatever

drunk posing
Slayer666 - 21.06.2014 at 14:47  
The more I listen to this, the more it reminds me of Chimera rather than Ordo ad Chao.
Mr. Doctor - 21.06.2014 at 15:18  
Written by Erik M. on 21.06.2014 at 01:28
Indeed it's my opinion. DMDS is a total classic and quite a groundbreaking album, while OAC and this one are not.

Maybe it isn't as classic.... But they sure as hell are as unique.

Written by Slayer666 on 21.06.2014 at 14:47
The more I listen to this, the more it reminds me of Chimera rather than Ordo ad Chao.

It does have some Chimare elements indeed. I agree with that. Although I can't really indentify which ones.
Lit. - 21.06.2014 at 16:13  
Written by Erik M. on 21.06.2014 at 01:28

You can't possibly be serious. I rate DMDS at least a full point higher than Esoteric Warfare (so an 8.5 and 9.5, roughly).

Srs bsns. DMDS is easily the most overrated piece of mediocrity in black metal. Gripe all you want, but that album cannot stand to the greatness that is Ordo Ad Chao. Even this new one's already proved itself better.
Erik M. - 21.06.2014 at 17:24  
Written by Troy Killjoy on 21.06.2014 at 10:35

i don't rate eithe rthat high but agree hthis isnt as good as de mysterius whatever


Is that you, Edgar (Bad English/K7)?
Erik M. - 21.06.2014 at 17:24  
Written by Mr. Doctor on 21.06.2014 at 15:18

Maybe it isn't as classic.... But they sure as hell are as unique.


Fair enough. While the debut is more standard BM, it's still a kick-ass album and indeed a total classic (which doesn't imply it's awesome, but in this case it is).
Erik M. - 21.06.2014 at 17:24  
Written by Lit. on 21.06.2014 at 16:13

Srs bsns. DMDS is easily the most overrated piece of mediocrity in black metal. Gripe all you want, but that album cannot stand to the greatness that is Ordo Ad Chao. Even this new one's already proved itself better.


"DMDS is easily the most overrated piece of mediocrity in black metal".

And that's where you lose your credibility. I can give multiple reasons as to why that album isn't overrated and why it's certainly not mediocre. In the end it's a matter of opinions, but at the very least it's a highly original and influential album.
Troy Killjoy - 21.06.2014 at 18:32  
Written by mz on 21.06.2014 at 13:38
drunk posing

Hey, my opinion still stands.
Zaphod - 11.08.2014 at 18:33  
Written by Marcel Hubregtse on 17.06.2014 at 13:38

I have seen Mayhem about ten times live now and only twice were they any good the other times they ranged from bad to truly atrocious. Yes they are theatrical that's not the problem. If they deliver their own music totally shitty than the concert is shitty no matter how grand the theatrics are.

Unfortunately I have to agree here, I was totally underwhelmed when I saw them live, and there were even a lot of people leaving.

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