Sunday, February 19, 2012

I listened to "De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas" tonight for the first time ever



For whatever stupid reason I sorta skipped De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas and Transylvanian Hunger when I started getting into black metal... of course I heard songs from both albums, and figured they were cool, but neither sound seemed like what I was looking for at the time--generally speaking, stuff that sounded like super-early Emperor and stuff that sounded like punk (Under A Funeral Moon, etc). Plus, even to a neophyte those two Classics seemed so damn standard, and nerd/contrarian that I am, I wanted to find my own way. Thereafter, Mayhem languished on my list of "shit I really should get around to." Well, tonight I was jamming some Mysticum as I stalked through the warehouses on a cold, wet night, and when that finished I saw the "Mayhem" listing just above it on my iPod, and realized I had DMDS.

Holy fucking shit does that album rule. While I didn't have my mind blown in quite the same way I did when I first heard Hordanes Land, I was every bit as enthralled. When I got back to my place I had to leave the headphones on to finish it, uninterrupted. I have heard a TON of black metal and discovered a lot of brilliant albums over the last 5 years, but Mayhem's first one still sounds completely fresh. Is all other black metal basically a footnote to De Mysteriis? Not completely, but close enough.

Some things I noticed, that a lot of other people have probably noticed by now:

1. EURONYMOUS. Not just a classic black metal guitarist, but a genre-transcending guitarist. Not a virtuoso, bu a consummate musician. The solo on Freezing Moon is hands down the coolest solo I have ever heard (that isn't Led Zeppelin), and it's crazy how he created a specifically black metal, specifically Mayhemic style for his improvisation. I have never heard anything like this anywhere else. On the rhythm parts, he plays with effortless authority. He doesn't pick as fast as people later did, but that actually make the music seem faster, because you can pick up on the pace of the strumming and the way it syncs with (or strains against) the drums.

2. Many times you think you're going to hear a riff repeated, but you actually hear a really cool variation on it, with an unexpected harmony or extra chord. This means that the basic riff-units are two or four times as long for Mayhem as they are for most Mayhem-imitators.

3. Varg was a great bassist! And the parts truly add another dimension.

4. Punk as fuck. Here, Hellhammer's doing at least two different kinds of blasts, changing up the usual snare-kick with a kick-snare pattern that's basically a sped up hardcore beat. "Funeral Fog" riiiips out of the gate with that shit. Another reason this album feels so fast.

5. Breakdowns! Unlike almost every BM band after them, Mayhem weren't afraid of syncopation or backbeats. When they drop into half or quarter time, shit gets heavy as fuck. Deathlike Silence may have labeled their productions ANTI-MOSH, but from the thrashing fast sections to the lurching, grooving slow parts, Mayhem play black metal as body music.

6. Not as repetitive as you might think. It drones and pummels away, but there'll be subtle shifts in one of the guitar parts, or the bassline, or Hellhammer will start introducing staggered cymbal and snare stuff into the blasts. No neat little sections here, everything liquid.

7. Attila rules, and lends a real sense of tonality to his vocals. There are some melodies, and hooks!

This is just sublime. I am so glad I finally heard this. And I'm glad I waited too, because now I can hear how it utterly dwarfs the imitators. A new all-time favorite album, for sure.

26 comments:

  1. holy fucking shit, what took you so long!?!?!?!?!?

    The music is, as you say, extremely liquid. Every riff, phrase, and melody just avalanches together beautifully.

    This is an absolutely gorgeous album of vampyric bliss. One of the best.

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  2. you forgot to mention how apparently no one else picked up on the idea that a gothic/vampiric atmosphere combined with black metal can actually be really cool except for cradle of filth which is kind of amazing.

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    1. Very true. There is an extremely heavy vampyric/gothic bent to this album. Definitely expressed through Dead's lyrics, but the overall tone of the entire work is definitely in this vein. Although much bleaker, nihilistic, and rife with decay than anything is metal that gets the so-called "goth" label.

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    2. Yeah, they really seem to REVEL in death, sickness, etc. Decadent in the true sense of the word. Also, I'd say there's a bit of a Christian Death vibe in the breakdowns and soloing...not sure Euronymous was into that shit, but I am, so I can't help hearing the parallel.

      Also, N: we should do a collab. post or mix pulling together some "Vampyric black metal" or whatever. I'd say Mutiilation is another classic in that vein.

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    3. haha VEIN, see what i did there?

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  3. also, cursed in eternity - best song

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  4. I was like 99% sure this was gonna be some "this album SUCKCKKKSSS and let me tell you why" type post (I mean this is trialbyordeal), pleasantly surprised it's not

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  5. lol, what the fuck are you even talking about, everyone who writes for this blog pretty much likes every canonical 2nd wave album, why would this be different

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  6. Coincidentally, I listened to this album for the first time in ages yesterday. Musically, it's really great, but in a way it's a shame that lots of people seem to remember this album rather for its background story, a subject beaten to death years ago by sensationalist journos and pseudo-satanic teeny boppers. This leaves a bad taste in my mouth and sometimes even makes me forget that this album is, from both a musical and an artistic perspective, an amazing achievement by the people involved in making it, be they dead or alive.

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    1. Yes, I think that's one reason I skipped it in the beginning--it seemed like the music was secondary to all this sordid stuff, and I saw lots of people suggesting that the album wasn't really equal to the Mayhem mystique. Also, I had this weird idealistic outlook (maybe a punk thing) where I was genuinely put off by the idea of band members killing each other--I wanted to identify with the members of bands I liked, and didn't want to hear music made by people who couldn't even manage being bros with each other.

      Now, my experience is the opposite. I hear the album for what it is, in all its glory, and then remember: "these guys literally tore each other apart." That takes it to a whole new level of exultant depravity.

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  7. This album is gay and dumb. Attila sounds like a gay vampire with his own 3 inch dick in his mouth, and Euronymous couldn't play his own instrument.

    Most of the early Norwegian black metal scene sucked. Darkthrone were posers who were, like, totally in with the death metal scene, partying with Entombed and shit, then one day changed their allegiance like some scenecore band going with the latest trend. Immortal is the black metal version of power metal. Burzum? More like Borezum. "Waah, modern society is terrible, I want to return to the ancient wolfspirits." Cut yourself some more, you aryan faggot. Gorgoroth (Gaygoroth) were the original generic BM band.

    If you want to listen to some real metal, try:
    *Arch Enemy
    *Opeth
    *Wolves in the Throne Room (the only good black metal, to be honest, besides maybe Xasthur)
    *Dark Tranquillity (better than that faggy sellout In Flames)
    *Emmure

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    1. straight blabbermouth material dog, see me after class

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    2. I'm not done recommending better stuff yet. Try this German "trash metal" band called Kreator, too--but their new stuff, with melodys. Their old stuff is just retarded noise recorded in a garage.

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    3. does this even count as a troll?

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    4. Lolol u poser everybody knows that Opeth and WITTR is for hipster phaggots. I only listen to REAL metal like Attack Attack and Asking Alexandria. Melody, breakdowns, harsh and clean vocals, influences from other genres, something for everybody!

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    5. I think it's safe to assume that this guy isn't a troll, he's a slapstick parody of a troll. It's brilliant.

      But not as brilliant as De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas is

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    6. yeah i get it now, i love this guy.

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    7. Trolls don't even try anymore. Whatever happened to subtly? A good troll would start off as just sounding kinda stupid and progressively get more ridiculous as they gain peoples trust. But "MAYHEM IS GAY LISTEN TO OPETHHH!!!111" is never going to fool anybody ever. Silly.

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  8. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AqfDwNEKEeQ

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  9. I've always been turned off by Mayhem for whatever reason. Maybe this is my cue to check 'em out.Certainly sounds enticing enough.

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    1. Do it, and report back on this thread.

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  10. am i completely alone in thinking that funeral fog and freezing moon are really the two weakest tracks on the album? it might be just due to overexposure, but i've always thought the rest of the album was a lot more compelling with shit like the aforementioned cursed in eternity, buried by time and dust, life eternal, the title track, etc.

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    1. I've always viewed the rest of the album to be on the same level as those two tracks, but never considered them inferior even after over-exposure.

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  11. I just picked up Bazillion Points utterly fucking MASSIVE Slayer Mag Diaries which ran from rougly 1983 - 2010 and its fucking amazing, the creator/head honcho writer Metalion was friends with Mayhem when they didn't even know what a demo tape was, one of the biggest eye openers I've ever read check it out!

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