Mayhem – “Ordo Ad Chao”


Mayhem – “Ordo Ad Chao”

Mayhem CD sleeve
Attila Csihar - Vocals
Blasphemer (Rune Erickson) - Guitar
Necrobutcher (Jørn Stubberud) - Bass
Hellhammer (Jan Axel Blomberg) - Drums

Mayhem’s place in history as the instigators of the Norwegian Black Metal explosion of the early 90s was never in doubt. Their debut LP proper, “De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas” (1994), still defines the genre to this day, featuring, as it does, not only original scene drafter & proprietor of Helvette (Olso vinyl emporium & infamous scene-base for Norwegian BM), Euronymous, on guitar – but also his eventual murderer, Varg Vikernes (aka Count Grishnackh/Burzum), on bass.

“De Mysteriis . . .” legacy as the defining BM LP of the 90s is undisputed to this day (though some purists would doubtless decry the absence of original vocalist & future suicide, Dead). Even 13-odd years down the line since its inception, “De Mysteriis . . .” still evokes a certain melancholic, misanthropic beauty in the depths of its very despair – much of this down to enigmatic vocalist, Attila Csihar (Tormentor), & his unearthly, unholy emanations. “Ordo Ad Chao” is Mayhem’s fourth full-length album - & the first to feature Csihar’s vocals since “De Mysteriis . . .”

Ironically, following the original recording of “De Mysteriis . . .” back in 1994, Attila returned to Hungary & his home in Budapest, unaware of the fates that befell his fellow band-mates. He would occasionally ring the two contact numbers he had for Mayhem – those of Euronymous & Vikernes – blissfully unaware that one was no longer with us, whilst the other languished inside Norway’s hardest maximum security jail, a murder convict!

"Ordo Ad Chao" - a subtle perversion of the Masonic maxim: Ordo Ab Chao (Out of chaos comes order) – translates as: order to chaos - & proves that whatever prefixes may have been added to the letters BM in terms of political implication in the interim - & I’m thinking about the letters N & S here, in particular – Mayhem remain obsessed with their perfectly reasonable goal: the triumph of evil over good!

Clocking in at just over 40-minutes, “Ordo Ad Chao” features 8-all-new-cuts of truly grimm Black Metal. The production is “necro as fuck” (quote: Hellhammer): the guitars are insanely evil, the bass a guttural rumble, the drums trashed to within an inch of function continuity by endless fill upon endless fill – no ham-fisted blastbeats here - leaving the vocals to summon the demons from the very depths of Hades. Throughout “Ordo Ad Chao”, the song writing remains as unorthodox as it has been on the last two Mayhem outings, but this time the atmosphere matches the eclecticism. This is an LP that rewards the investment of repeated listening. Shape emerges from the shadows gradually. Riffs that on first listen fail to gel, begin to embed effectively with each subsequent listen. The longer I live with this LP, the better it gets.

With the exception of a handful of true believers keeping the BM kvlt alive in 2007: Tangorodrim, Leviathan, Crebain, Striborg – Mayhem stand alone. “Ordo Ad Chao” is true Norwegian Black Metal for those of you who still believe in purity.

Johnny Truant – tMx 29 – 04/07