Esoteric Warfare

Seven years. That’s how long it’s been since there has been a new Mayhem album. Seven…Years. But I have to say that it was worth the wait, because Esoteric Warfare is a really good album and a worthy addition to their legacy.

Obviously, this isn’t the Mayhem that we know from De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas though, this is modern day, post Black Metal that sounds a bit more like recent Satyricon (but without the ballads). This is an evolution that has been in the making since Grand Declaration of War, and it is the most logical one since they are taking the classic blueprint for Black Metal and turning it upside down, using Jazzy, off kilter rhythms a la Ihsahn and Shining (without the Sax though), and keeping the bleak atmospherics that made them genre leaders back in the 90’s.

“Watcher” is a good place to start with as far as the tracks go, sporting a disjointed riff riding on the thunder of Hellhammer’s double bass, it’s a beastly track and the best opener by far. It shows how far they have really come in terms of their own style and keeping with the sensibilities of Black Metal. Because this is a Black Metal album; not Black/Thrash or Black/Death whatever the fuck, it’s pitch black through and through. By track five, “Milab” slows things down after “Psywar” and “Trinity” are done having their way with you.

The production is sterling all the way, the drums sound crisp and the guitars as bleak and cold as their country of origin. I really have to say too, that Atilla Csihar has never sounded more.. Evil. Especially on “The Corpse of Care” and “Posthuman“, and he even does some sick crooning on album closer “Into the Lifeless“, really the last four songs on the album rarely go above the posted speed limit, but that’s okay, since they are such aurally violent tracks that they don’t need to.

Aural Violence. I like that term, and since it fits perfectly here I don’t feel bad about using it (or for making it up). This clearly isn’t your Daddy’s Mayhem and that’s good. Detractors of the genre have stated that Black Metal is dying, and Esoteric Warfare proves them wrong within the first two minutes. With this release it’s shaping up to be a cold summer for sure.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Jeremy Beck
June 9th, 2014


  1. Commented by: Dimaension X

    It’s taking me a while to warm up to this one. It has the esoteric, angular experimental quality of “Ordo…”, but better production (though not as well recorded and produced as “Chimaera”, still my favorite).

    The production sounds very “mono” to me – most of the main guitars, bass and even drums going right up the middle of the the stereo spectrum, with the exception of an odd snippet of a right thrown hard left or right as a quick accent or effect. But the songs and performances are top-notch.

    Not sure where this one will finally fall in the pantheon of Mayhem releases.

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