Mayhem – Daemon (Century Media)

When you’ve been instrumental in redefining heavy metal, when you’ve shocked and enthralled your fanbase over more than 30 years, when you were at the centre of events that defined an entire movement, then every album release is a real event. A happening.

And since they brought Deathcrush kicking and spitting into the world, Mayhem’s sound has twisted and convulsed, lurching from the cold brutality of Chimera to the churning wormhole of Ordo Ad Chao. Let’s be honest, we were never really expecting a repeat of 2014’s Esoteric Warfare, were we?

Granted, Daemon retains the icy touch of Teloch, who, with fellow guitarist Ghul, has brought mind-warping new dynamics to the band he joined in 2011. Where this record differs, however, is that for the most part it goes straight for jugular. Daemon is several dimensions away from being raw and primitive, and Mayhem aren’t rehashing Freezing Moon or Pagan Fears either (probably to the chagrin of some acolytes). But the likes of Falsified And Hated, with its lacerating riffery and battlecharge blasts, and the similarly adrenalized Of Worms And Ruins, have the kind of instant impact that’s been seldom delivered by recent Mayhem releases.   

It’s addictive.

The transitions between permeating, unnerving dread and sinewy grooves on Agenda Ignis, the way Daemon Spawn builds from a ceremonial death march to an intoxicating crescendo, Attila delivering his crazed incantations over the tense, hyperspeed assault of Worthless Abominations Destroyed… this is a work that tunnels deep into Mayhem’s sonic seams and serves you those riches on a plate.

One play through and it all makes glorious sense…. and you don’t have to work to get hard to get your fix.

And so, while filmmakers are recreating this band’s controversial past for the big screen, Necrobutcher, Hellhammer et al are writing enthralling new chapters like Daemon.

This is Mayhem 2019. And it’s breathtaking.