Taken from here
For anyone still in doubt, there are plenty of cold, hard facts to suggest that the Norwegian black metal scene of the 1990s is dead. What replaced it is nothing short of a long list of bands attempting to exploit the controversy of the genre to make a few extra bucks.
If that’s not bad enough, the few bands that are still left from this strange time in the history of music seem to be around for no clearly discernable reason. Darkthrone continues to make music that gets incrementally worse with every record, while bands like Immortal and Emperor have reformed apparently for no other reason than exploiting their namesakes. Both are playing limited live dates at exorbitant prices.
One distinctly gets the impression this is not what black metal was about.
In that sense, it’s good to see a band like Mayhem still thrashing around. Considered the first Norwegian black metal band, Mayhem has had a storied history filled with pretty much the worst parts of the Bible. Death plagued the band in its early era, and it has seen more members than are possible to keep track of.
For all the lineup changes, one thing remains: Mayhem has consistently been better than at least 95 percent of the bands in the genre. Even the band’s last record, 2004’s Chimera, was a much-needed shot of adrenaline into the heart of black metal even though it was easily the band’s worst record to date.
With its new release, Ordo Ad Chao (Latin for “Order from Chaos”), Mayhem has shown beyond the shadow of a doubt that virtually every other band in black metal is just pretending. Through its grim and violent 40 minutes, Ordo Ad Chao proves that regardless of its lineup, Mayhem is the most potent force in black metal.
Likely what has rejuvenated the band is the re-entry of infamous genre vocalist, Attila Csihar. The Hungarian vocalist appeared on the band’s controversial second album, 1994’s De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas, which is largely considered to be the band’s best record.
Needless to say, Csihar truly steps up to the plate on Ordo Ad Chao. He may have displayed a tremendous range 13 years ago, but his vocals still sounded largely underdeveloped. In the present, he is a powerful, immediately recognizable voice.
It’s very probable that you will spend the entirety of this record baffled as to how any human vocal chords could possibly be capable of producing the sounds that Csihar does.
Ordo Ad Chao is certainly a dense record. There are no catchy hooks, melodies or harmonies. It is a display of sheer nihilistic power. There are many parts on the record, like the beginning of “Illuminate Eliminate,” that are purposefully plodding.
Songs like “Great Work of Ages” and “Psychic Horns” have strange breaks in the music where all sound drops out for what seems like an inordinately long time.
Such breaks do nothing to alleviate the tension on this record. In fact, they build the tension to a point where it is nearly intolerable. Ordo Ad Chao is like opening the doors to horror. With every one that is opened, the further from safety you get.
This, in tandem with the grainy, raw production, makes Ordo Ad Chao one of the single most unapproachable black metal albums of the past 10 years.
That being said, black metal is supposed to be imposing, and Ordo Ad Chao delivers. It is easily Mayhem’s most imposing record since 1997’s Wolf’s Lair Abyss, and one gets the impression that the band purposefully crafted a record that was meant to alienate many modern black metal listeners.
There is plenty of speed on this record, though. “Deconsecrate” contains some of the eeriest black metal vocals and music ever laid down on record. Its spastic pace makes it one of the album’s most unforgettable songs.
“Psychic Horns” is littered with obscenely fast drumming courtesy of Hellhammer, who is inarguably the genre’s best drummer. His bizarre time signatures in songs like “Anti” are the sign of a seasoned genre veteran. He doesn’t need to play intolerably fast to be impressive, and the true scope of his talent is usually only fully understood when he slows things down a bit.
Ordo Ad Chao glows with an unhealthy aura. It is certainly an album that will alienate many listeners, and it’s questionable if its greatness will be comprehended upon its release.
It’s great to finally hear a black metal album that is at once a return to the genre’s original principles so much as it is an expansion on them.
There is no band in black metal that can do what Mayhem does, and Ordo Ad Chao will likely be a misunderstood masterpiece as it transcends all the garbage that is rampant in the genre and lays waste to any and all expectations of commercial viability.
In other words, Ordo Ad Chao is a stunning display of the ferocity of black metal. Thank goodness Mayhem has returned. Maybe this album will clear the air a little bit and bury these commercially friendly black metal bands under time and dust.
This album is a wonderful piece of horror and brutality