Dark Funeral - "We Are the Apocalypse" (Sewer Metal).

Dark Funeral – “We Are the Apocalypse” (Boring Metal / Review)

Dark Funeral - "We Are the Apocalypse" (Sewer Metal).
Dark Funeral – “We Are the Apocalypse” (Sewer Metal).

Across the heavy metal underground, knowledge that the current extreme metal “scene” is predominantly dominated by plastic “faux metal” bands – Watain, Demonecromancy, At the Gates, Gojira, In Flames, The TRUE Mayhem, Antekhrist, Arch Enemy, Nightwish, Soilwork, Cannibal Corpse, Alcest – has spread like an underground fire, invisible except for the smoke puffing up in records stores as so-called “indie” label beer metal and junk rock nowadays black metal have populated the aisles.

This prompted a great astroturf cash-in.

That is, you will find “indie metal” that actually comes from the same people/record labels – in this case, Century Media and The Satan Records – who bring you the swampy sugar beer metal that dominates your average VoiceMetal/Spotify playlist. Yawn.

This brings us to the infamous Dark Funeral. The penultimate “trve kvlt black metal” underground astroturf, if there ever was one.

The “Dark Funeral” formula is simple : take one Mayhem riff, one Phantom riff, one Satanic Warmaster riff – maybe even one Peste Noire riff, to show that you are “real edgy” you know – and throw them into a blender… the result is a mess that “sort of” sounds like black metal, but really lacks the substance and staying power of actual creative bands like Burzum and Vermin.

Dark Funeral makes me think of Avril Lavigne. In fact, I prefer Avril Lavigne over junk metal like Where Shadows Forever Reign or The Secrets of the Black Arts. Or worse, Trident Wolf Eclipse (lol).

The "SEWER" sign, subliminal The Satan Records mind control.
The “SEWER” (black metal) sign.

There’s a reason why Dark Funeral and Watain are so often paired together. Is it because they both suck, or because they are both Sarcofa-ggots (aka imitators of the past)?

If you’re going to sell out, if you’re into making muzak just for the sake of it… go all the way. Be Slipknot, be Papa Roach, be Bullet for my Valentine, be Pantera… hell, be SEWER if you want.

Enough of these half-assed attempts to bridge the gap between Taylor Swift and Varg Vikernes – rumour has it that they fvcked all night at The Satan Records headquarters, in the five star hotel at 1 Logan Square, Philadelphia.

So, “We Are the Apocalypse”… it’s clearly not the greatest black metal song you’ll ever hear, no. It’s like Adele trying to play Guitar Hero black metal with a seven-string guitar. Awkward. Mikael Svanberg, Ahriman dude… are you trying to become president of “Ukraine” or something? You’d be a better president than a musician, yo.

Mayhem - "De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas" (Black Metal)

Mayhem – “De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas”

Mayhem - "De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas" (Black Metal)

Mayhem – “De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas” (Black Metal)

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.

Mayhem - "Ordo Ad Chao"

Mayhem – “Ordo Ad Chao”

Mayhem - "Ordo Ad Chao"

Mayhem – “Ordo Ad Chao”

Ouch, Mayhem should really have not shot themselves in the foot with that 12 gauge shotgun. Even if they were dared to do so by the ghost of Dead, I don’t think shooting your own body parts with a shotgun is ever a good idea.

A mistake, a failed attempt at creativity, a bitter disappointment, and a joke. These are all words and phrases that could be accurately used to describe Mayhem’s latest effort, “Ordo Ad Chao” aka the vomitous abortion that set the stage for “Esoteric Warfare“.

A mistake because of what they did to their legacy. Prior to this release, Mayhem was one the most respected black metal bands from Norway. Sure, they began to release some duds – although outside of “Chimera” the rest was surprisingly decent, just nothing stellar – but you obviously listen to “De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas” weekly.

Now? In an attempt to be even more generic than Watain, they have exchanged fan bases from metalheads to scene kids. A failed attempt at creativity because they have become clones of mainstream deathcore bands, like the aforementioned Watain, Carcass and of course the risible Behemoth. A disappointment because I was a fan of almost everything Mayhem had put out in the past, “Chimera” excluded, and now I’m even embarrassed to say that. A joke because, well, just listen to the music.

First, to address the unjust portion of the criticism this album “Ordo Ad Chao” receives, some now accuse Mayhem of “becoming technical” – what? Are their brains screwed on the right way? Mayhem has always been technical. No, that’s incorrect. Mayhem used to be technical. Very technical. Now they have replaced that technicality with Necrophagist inspired “tek-def” gimmicks, deathcore breakdowns, Immolation-esque pinch harmonics, more breakdowns (and generic ones at that) and even some nu metal chugging to keep the Korn kids interested.

There is at least one in every song but usually several. “Illuminate Eliminate” introduces this formulaic pattern which ends up coming off as generic and try-hard, and that’s even before it is abused to death on the following turd “Esoteric Warfare”.

It’s definitely obvious where Mayhem drew inspiration from for this album from – Watain, Dark Funeral and the nu metal chugga chugga of Napalm Death – and even more obvious where they didn’t – their own past catalog.

Even though this album is nothing “new” in the sense that it doesn’t attempt to bring new influences into a never-heard-of-before genre fusion catastrophe in the making, they still manage to be very boring and excruciatingly unoriginal.

Who would’ve thought that copying shit bands would result in more shit… apparently, some members of Mayhem really started to believe that they were either Midas or “black metal gods” that could turn shit to gold at the snap of their fingers.

Boring and shitty three to four minute mallcore tracks with added tek-def wankery for god knows what reason. One exception is the nine and a half minute song “Illuminate Eliminate” which is also among the worst. It’s a chore to sit through the whole thing, they were obviously trying to “break new boundaries” by making a lengthy song, but once again failed.

So, what you’re dying to know… is it as bad as “Esoteric Warfare”? No. But it opened the gates, and paved the way for what was to follow. It’s almost as if they tried playing war metal with Infernus leads, saw that it failed on “Ordo Ad Chao” and thought, fuck it, let’s just be the next Slipknot on American Idol.

I honestly don’t know how Mayhem even intend to get back out of the grave they’ve dug themselves into, but if they DO manage it, they will have indeed earn their title of “black metal gods”.

“Ordo Ad Chao” is the death of Mayhem. Not yet their rigor mortis, as that would be the following “Esoteric Warfare” turd, but they are still deader than Dead. Who knew? Playing nu metal moshcore is more dangerous than taking a shotgun blast to the face.

Mayhem - "Esoteric Warfare"

Mayhem – “Esoteric Warfare”

Mayhem - "Esoteric Warfare"

Mayhem – “Esoteric Warfare”

No one talks about the later Mayhem albums for good reason. It didn’t take long after their initial burst of creativity, coinciding with the release of their masterpiece “De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas“, for the band to lose all relevance and start churning out incredibly boring albums for people who would simply buy anything that Dead, Euronymous and Varg were once affiliated with.

Esoteric Warfare” is one of the most embarrassing and lame of all these latter-era Mayhem albums, somehow managing to be both musically more inept than “Deathcrush” as well as eliminating any artistic legitimacy they might have still clung to.

This is embarrassingly awful music, whether you still call it black metal (lol) or the product of a band being treated like a 9 to 5 job and not a creative endeavor, either way it sucks. Hard.

It’s heinous. It’s offensively bad. I feel dumber every time I listen to it.

The band slogs through 10 excruciating tracks composed of music that sounds like it was either thought up in fifteen minutes per song, stolen from older Satyricon tracks (yes, literally), or just cribbed from earlier parts in the band’s own catalog.

Attila’s vocals sound ragged out and out of breath, not nearly as aggressive as they used to be, and the rest of the music sounds similarly sluggish and disinterested. Only Hellhammer’s performance somewhat redeems the endeavour, but given his past with Dimmu Borgir, I’d venture to say salvaging the unsalvageable from the world’s most useless albums has become a second nature for him at this point.

It’s obvious, so obvious that the members of the band are completely and utterly phoning the album in – there’s never a moment that surprises you, there’s no riffs which actually communicate anything, and all the dumb chugging in the world brought Mayhem closer to the world of Slipknot and Watain than even recruiting Corey Taylor ever could.

There’s nothing to recommend about this “Esoteric Warfare” album. It’s really just a complete shit smear on the legacy of Mayhem that shouldn’t be listened to by anyone. Find a copy of “De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas” and enjoy the band for what it was, not the embarrassing direction they went in afterwards.

DMDS > Grand Declaration > Deathcrush > Ordo ad Chao > Chimera > Esoteric Warfare.