Mayhem – De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas Alive

What can be said about Mayhem’s De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas that has not already been said? Before discussing the live album, released a while back but now on its way to be re-issued, a few words on the original album upon which it is based. I heard Mayhem’s perhaps still best respected album far later than I heard many other seminal TNBM classics, but remember immediately realizing that it was as fundamental as (many would of course say more fundamental than) Immortal’s Pure Holocaust, Darkthrone’s Transilvanian Hunger and Burzum’s Hvis Lyset Tar Oss – three albums which I still without any hint of humor or irony will describe as among the greatest music ever made. I am not as teenage-nostalgically, uncritically fawning for De Mysteriis, for the reason explained above, but still recognize it for the central album that it is. Every riff – whether simple or complex – is splendid. The lyrics are, well, let’s not talk too much about them.

First a few words for anyone who has spent the past thirty years or so living under a rock or in those few and far-between places I’ve heard about where people don’t listen to black metal. The early story of the actual band you’ll have to google yourself, but it involves suicide (the result of which was later featured on a live album cover), murder and all sorts of goings-on putting most other “extreme” genres to shame. De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas was originally released in 1994 after years of delay, and entered its virtually pre-ordained place as a classic. Well-deservedly so, I might add. The sound of the original album is very black metal, if slightly better produced than many contemporary works in the genre: grotesquely distorted guitars, mid- to fastpaced drumwork (with the occasional slower part) and strange guttural vocals performed by Attila, vocalist of the Hungarian band Tormentor. It’s fucking great, simply put.

Now for the actual release at hand: in December of 2015, Mayhem decided to preform the entirety of De Mysteriis – track by track – live at a concert in Norrköping, Sweden. They also recorded the whole affair, and released it as an album. The second vinyl printing of this sort of monumental occasion is now available (link below). The decision to go this route when reintroducing the band’s audience to an amazing old album is perhaps a hint of why Mayhem, even without all the bells and whistles of a dark and bizarre history, still count among the more important black metal bands. Rather than do some terrible “remastering” – a concept which is really rather alien to the entire sound ideal of black metal and really just annoying to old fans – they chose to do this. The result is a raw album, where the band can display their improved technical skill, and get a production they can be proud of, without fiddling about with an album whose every note and exact sound is burned into the brain of many a black metal head. An additional plus is the fact that the live sound fits De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas extremely well. It’s cutting, it’s nasty, it’s gnarly. Having established that, we’re pretty much done.

Thumbs up, horns up, etc. The second printing is available in a variety of colors from the band’s website, and I strongly suggest you go with a pre-order if you want one, since they are likely to sell out before the actual release date.

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