Mayhem - _Wolf's Lair Abyss_
(Misanthropy, 1997)
by: Andrew Lewandowski (10 out of 10)
At first glance, this new incarnation of Mayhem appears to be a completely new beast, yet the remaining members of Mayhem have discarded none of the metaphysical qualities which abounded from their music before the death of Euronymous. The Mayhem aesthetic has diverged from the internalized sorrow and loathing manifested in the searing repetition and stark melodies of _De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas_; on _Wolf's Lair Abyss_, this misanthropy has reverted back into the primal rage of _Deathcrush_ or _Pure Fucking Armageddon_. Unholy violence once again seeps from the music, for Mayhem not only perpetuates the intensity of, for example, "Buried By Time and Dust" through an entire mini-CD, but also has adopted a wall of sound approach. Thus, each track now mercilessly bludgeons the listener as an interminable procession of morose, yet brutal, riffs and Hellhammer's demonic percussion lacerate the feeble soul. Also, Euronymous' replacement, Blasphemer, arguably exceeds the compositional skill of his predecessor: Blashphemer effectively invokes an equally wide range of moods in each track as Euronymous did on an entire album. No black metal band (with the possible exception of Burzum) ever captured the tormented melancholy of Mayhem's previous material, thus the return of Mayhem to its most infernal form should be exalted (so much so, in fact, that I will neglect to mention the album's foibles, such as the sometimes ludicrous, sometimes haunting vocalizations of Maniac and the rushed production which causes distortion in Hellhammer's cymbal work).

(article published 17/11/1997)

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