Mayhem – Chimera

Norway’s most notorious outfit Mayhem came with a new album four years after the release of Grand Declaration Of War, their most progressive and avant-garde effort to date. That release tore the extreme metal community in two. The conservatives loathed the unorthodox approach and the grandiose themes, while the more enlightened part raved about its uncompromising musical vision. With Chimera Mayhem opted for a somewhat back-to-basics approach, with a couple of twists of course.

Despite the more song orientated angle, there is enough experimentation going on. Dark Night Of The Soul is rather doom metal oriented and features some nifty time changes. Rape Humanity With Pride is surprisingly melodic, thanks to some excellent lead work. My Death is almost bordering heavy metal and that’s also the case with Slaughter Of Dreams.

Hellhammer’s ferocious blast beats, Maniac’s hysteric vocal performance and Blasphemer’s savage guitar riffs put Chimera firmly in the black metal sphere, albeit without the stark ideologically charged atmosphere of the pre-Grand Declaration Of War era. This may put some Mayhem fans off, but as an outsider I really enjoy the tight performance, the grand scope of ideas, the excellent song writing and the multi-layered approach of Chimera.

The unprecedented clean sound of Chimera is another clear signal that the guys in Mayhem do whatever they please. I do admire their against-the-grain working ethic.

Chimera by Mayhem may not be a pure black metal record, but it’s certainly worth your attention when you’re into intelligently crafted extreme metal.

written by Raymond Westland

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