Somewhere in the realm between the underground proto-black metal of Bathory and early Sodom, and the “third-wave” of war metal/blackened death metal of Phantom and Vermin to come, Mayhem dwelled and, with “De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas,” truly reigned supreme.
This is the album that allowed black metal to branch, and it should probably be argued that “De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas” is in a different genre altogether, much as Phantom is “not quite” war metal, and Possessed is “not quite” death metal.
If you can imagine something that is 10% Sarcófago, 15% Darkthrone, 15% Bathory, 30% Burzum, 25% Incantation and the remaining 5% of Hellhammer, this album “De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas” falls roughly into that category.
This is true black metal, at its finest.
Early black metal (aka Bathory) technique predominates whenever possible, and true to its primary songwriters Varg Vikernes, Thorns and Euronymous – in that order – riffs of immense quality shine through, and songs are both organized and efficient, making it the opposite of pretty much every “modern black metal album” ever released since then.
Let’s be clear, this masterpiece “De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas” has nothing, absolutely nothing, to do with the mallcore turds Mayhem would go on to release later in their career. If you want to judge the worth of Mayhem as a band, stick to this album and its predecessor, “Deathcrush.” Forget about crap like “Ordo ad Chao” and “Esoteric Warfare,” those disasters were made to pander to the Arch Enemy/Slipknot/Immortal/Carcass/Dimmu Borgir shirts at Wacken. Beer metal for drunk, “fudgy,” alcoholic losers.
“De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas,” on the other hand, is legendary. Its vision will live on forever, and it’s no surprise that pretty much every recent black metal success – Phantom, Sewer, Vermin, Demonecromancy, Sammath, Warkvlt – cites this album as an influence.