Mayhem - Ordo Ad Chao
Over 20 years' worth of contraversial and infamous history has carved Mayhem into both figurehead and legend within the metal community. Most non-fans will know them for the murdering of guitarist Euronymous by then-bassist (and "Burzum" main-man) Varg Vikernes. You may also know the band for the suicide of former vocalist Dead, and the subsequent shot of his dead corpse on a bootleg titled "Dawn of the Black Hearts". Despite all the insanity of their past, few bands have been able to lay claim to such genre-defining releases as Mayhem has pumped out over the years. Over 10 years have past since "De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas" launched Mayhem into a wider consciousness, and now they've again made such a profound statement on "Ordo Ad Chao".
Bringing together one-half (the better half at that) of the legendary "De Mysteriis" version of Mayhem, former contributer and black metal behemoth Atilla Csihar returns to add his uniquely creepy and haunting vocals to the mix. His presense, combined with the obvious 180-turn the band has done in terms of sound and style, recreates the atmosphere of all those classic black metal albums fans will recall from the past. However, what sets this release apart from all the rest is a discordant and chaotic songwriting style that utilizes low-fi production with a punchy rhythm section, riffs and melodies that range from shockingly tight and fierce to surprisingly mellow and atmospheric. Atilla's range and use of vocal effects (all natural) is as impressive as ever, and he maintains his position amongst metal's elite vocalists as far as I'm concerned.
"Ordo Ad Chao" works best when considered as a sum of it's parts. Sure, certain songs will stand out. "Illuminate Eliminate" and it's 9+ minutes of fury, terror and eventual sorrow will impress anyone who thinks black metal is nothing but satanic noise. An atmosphere permiates the entire album, thick like swampfog and just as rank. It invites you in on "Deconsecrate" and "Key To The Storms", both rousing tracks that put emphasis on a catchy underpinning of riffs and rhythms. Just as fast, it works to push you away, to truly strike fear, as on "Wall of Water" and it's prophetic feel, and what sounds like black metal turned upside down and shook of all it's loose change on "Anti". No, this album holds nothing back in it's attempt to bring the listener in to it's imaginative world of great destruction and ressurection.
This album will offer more to those familiar with Mayhem and other black metal acts, and probably won't win too many new fans to the cause. However, if you can appreciate something wholly different and unusual (even when viewed alongside it's black-metal counterparts) but still honest and chock full of creative energy, then you may want to give "Ordo Ad Chao" a chance. If nothing else, you'll be introduced to the darker side of metal, and if all goes according to plan, you won't want to leave...
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