Mayhem - _Ordo Ad Chao_
(Season of Mist, 2007)
by: James Montague (
Unlike most of the black metal community, I didn't have any particular expectations for the latest Mayhem release. To be honest, aside from _De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas_ and _Wolf's Lair Abyss_, the band has made a mild impression on me at best. Furthermore, the adventurous yet boring _Grand Declaration of War_ and the dependable yet uninspired _Chimera_ left me ambivalent as to which path they'd choose, as I wasn't sure it'd make any meaningful difference.Well, I now have _Ordo Ad Chao_ in my possession and have listened to it dozens of times, yet I still can't say where it will sit with me in the years to come. One thing is for sure though: Mayhem have created something fascinating and pertinent. More importantly, they have regained the rare distinction of turning black metal into a fully immersive experience rather than mere tunes and rhythms to be digested and categorized by the musical ear.Trying to define the experience has provided me some amusement, as there seems to be little consensus on what it actually is. Many describe _Ordo Ad Chao_ as an intensely claustrophobic and suffocating album, a point of view given weight by the extremely necro production and a guitar tone whose groaning undercurrent is more reminiscent of doom metal than black. On the other hand, Blasphemer's expansive arrangements, the peerless Hellhammer's intentionally asynchronous percussion and the liberal use of silence could also be seen as creating vast spaces. There is truth in both arguments: either Mayhem have succeeded in producing agoraphobia in its musical form, or they are representing true chaos by projecting insufferable tightness onto an infinite void.There is a definite lack of discernable riffage in _Ordo Ad Chao_, so it's unlikely that any of it will stick in your head. The album thus runs the risk of being forgotten in the future, as it's not entirely clear what would motivate one to listen. In any case, for the time being Mayhem have presented us with a very creepy and thought-provoking piece that truly offers something new to a saturated market.
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