Mayhem – Ordo Ad Chao

Mayhem are the godfathers of (Norwegian) black metal. Every band in the genre is in some way inspired by their music. Their historical past is way more notorious then their initial output, although that changed for me with Grand Declaration Of War. That album sent shock waves through the extreme metal world, pretty much rewriting the rule book of black metal. Purists hated it with a vengeance, while more enlightened people hailed it as a masterpiece. A couple of years later the band released Chimera (2004) and Ordo Ad Chao, their last album in quite a while.

Ordo Ad Chao is as intense as it is mystifying. Intense because it appeals to my most basic human instincts. Mystifying, because it took me quite a long time before the offered material started to make sense. The album is basically an abstract form of dark art with little bits and pieces that need to be connected, before you get to the brilliant essence.

The somewhat foggy and muffled production is partly to blame for this, but at the same time it adds a veil of aural secrecy around compositions like A Wise Birthgiver, Wall Of Water, Great Work Of Ages and Psychic Horns. The vocal performance by Attila Csihar is just as enigmatic as the music itself. It ranges from low growls and eerie spoken word parts up to the most bone chilling shrieks.

The musical backbone on Ordo Ad Chao is formed by the thick drumming patterns of Hellhammer and the innovative guitar riffs by Blasphemer. Compositions such as Deconsecrate, Key To The Storms and Anti are quite close to older Mayhem material, yet retain the avant-garde and experimental edge of Grand Declaration Of War.

Ordo Ad Chao is a very challenging album to get into. It’s chaotic, enigmatic, yet undeniably brilliant. Hell, even as I write this very article I’m discovering new elements. That should say enough about the quality of this album!

written by Raymond Westland

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