Release DetailsLABEL Season of Mist
RELEASED ON 4/24/2007
Ordo Ad Chao
posted on 5/2007 By:
Some of us just can’t help but be rebels by nature, even when surrounded by selective kindred souls. With very few exceptions and regardless of my love for the genre, black metal is full of posers who are not nearly as grim and hateful in real life as they would like people to perceive them to be through their music. I really don’t think this is the case with Mayhem, possibly the most obsidian of black sheep, as almost every aspect of this band is, in fact, unfriendly. These guys aren’t cuddly sweethearts under the surface, and there lies the appeal. Flying directly against the winds of convention, Ordo Ad Chao is a monkey wrench thrown into the gears of the current status quo of all things extreme, and in my estimation, is one of the most stunning, uncommon metal albums I‘ve heard in years from a band at this level of reputation and controversy.
That production score is no mistake. Since when is Mayhem supposed to be a comfortable band to listen to? I missed that memo, and if Ordo Ad Chao had been given five-star production treatment, it would have sounded ridiculously overdone. The reason why the mix is so inaccessible is because the music calls for it to be so. This is not a cathartic, cleansing album. The low ends are murderous on stereo speakers, almost none of it sounds balanced, the guitars are riddled with feedback, and the bass sounds utterly unproduced. Attila Csihar’s vocals are sometimes muted beyond recognition, but at other times overpower the mix, and Hellhammer’s various cymbals are torture to the ear at certain moments. All of it is for a reason, and for 40 minutes Mayhem sets a mood as disturbing and penetrating as anything they’ve done before, and for brief periods, it’s like nothing you or I have ever heard before by the band.
Escaping the triggered, mechanical hell of the brilliant Grand Declaration Of War, this sounds like a modernized version of what the decent, uneventful Chimera could have been with more inspired vision, while tapping back into the nihilistic coldness of De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas. The music is unstructured, rarely repeating riffs in any sort of uniform pattern for very long which gives off an almost improvisational atmosphere of witnessing something horribly inhumane happen, very slowly. Although the tempos change often, Blasphemer’s picking hand is in overdrive through the majority of the album, unleashing a nearly unending swarm of subdued , blazingly-fast tremolo beneath waves of volume swells and a filthy bass guitar that seems to have an agenda of it’s own. Despite the contrasts, the songwriting is incredibly focused and all the players move as one through the differing hills and valleys of Ordo Ad Chao, as if they should have sounded like this all along.
Discord hits you in the face from the first few moments of the foreboding opener “A Wise Birthgiver”, a track with such a minimal vocal performance you’d mistake it for an instrumental. As “Wall Of Water” strikes with no warning, get ready to walk over to your stereo to balance the equalizer as everything comes blaring forth in a tumbling rhythmic beginning which leads into a swift, menacingly turbulent black metal storm of blasts. Things shift into a sudden, more textured and dismal slowing of the pace as Attila deeply grunts, rasps, and scrapes his way into the flesh of the tune, leading into the equally chaotic “Great Work Of Ages”, as humming guitars fade and reappear crazily through constant time changes and desperate rhythms. When “Deconsecrate” erupts screaming and flailing, you’re suddenly at the fourth track already and have only gotten started when a nearly death metal heft begins winding through. Blomberg throws in an almost fusion-esque jazziness into his drumming which also later appears briefly in the schizophrenic “Psychic Horns”, but it’s guitarist Rune Erickson who shines on the massive “Illuminate Eliminate” as he unfurls lush power chords, dissonance, and cavernous atmosphere. It’s during “Key To The Storms” where Attila completely loses his mind, belting out throaty shrieks, maniacal laughter , and animalistic growls that would have any other person dragged away to a mental institution. When epic closer “Anti” deftly arrives, Csihar switches into clean, robust spoken word before returning to his feral snarl, and deathly pig belch slightly past the break @3:20 or so. The album ends with little drama, completing the mood by simply fading suddenly into nothingness.
After much thought, more than you can imagine, I’d have to say Mayhem have created a masterpiece among masterpieces, taking bits and pieces of each of their past works and blending all of it into this absolutely fucking miserable piece of demented, unhinged black metal art. The mixture of ambiance, hatred, conceit, and sheer refusal to make this a comfortable listening experience has resulted in the most surprising extreme album I’ve heard this year, by far. The understated intensity of Blasphemer’s songcraft, combined with Attila’s therapy-inducing vocal performance, and the tumultuous production choices verge on pure genius. Ordo Ad Chao is an outstanding exhibition of skill, mood, and ferocity, and is a most refreshingly torrid, unapologetically oppressive album that surpassed all expectations. Phenomenal.
posted on 5/2007 By:
I have to admit, I’m certainly no black metal expert and honestly, I have limited experience with the apparently legendary Mayhem. However, recently I have been sucking up as much respected black metal as I can find and have been absorbing bands previously unknown to me such as Marduk, Shining, Funeral Mist, Katharis, Ulver, Darkthrone, Watain and eventually, Mayhem. And despite my limited dealings with the band's recorded output, I am fully aware of the band’s certain ‘mystique’ and history within the annals of black metal, and to that end have reached the conclusion that the band's revered status is far more to do with the happenings in the band members’ personal lives, than their actual musical offerings.
So, while in the midst of my personal black metal sabbatical, I purchased this album on a whim, despite the fact I know De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas is considered somewhat of a legend, I was also aware there’s some dissention among fans as to how their later albums stand up (namely the industrial tinged Grand Declaration of War and half hearted return of Chimera), so I really was not sure what to expect with Ordo Ad Chao.
First, one of the key points here is that Attila Csihar has returned as vocalist, replacing Maniac and that in itself makes the album. He, along with Marduk/Funeral Mist screecher Arioch have to be two of the most twisted voices in black metal, and to that end, Ordo Ad Chao is a filthy, twisted, disturbing, wretched and psychotic album. And that along with the production and Hellhammer’s (Dimmu Borgir, Arcturus, Winds, etc) devilish drumming, in turn makes it a fine, blister inducing black metal album.
Second, the production on this album will make or break most fans; it's wafer thin (especially the drums) and at times sounds like it was recorded six inches deep into my rectal cavity. However, its warped, primal, yet festering tone somehow fits the infected open wound, straight jacketed visage of Csihar and the material as a whole.
Though not industrial as say GDoW, Ordo Ad Chao does have numerous experimental and mechanical elements amid the grim blackness, but it’s more in line with the piss stained halls and boiler room bowels of a deserted asylum than truly ‘industrial’, more like Axis of Perdition for example. Slow, pulsing samples mingle with warped, schizophrenic guitars and Attila’s inhuman rasps; moans and whispers. Opening instrumental “A Wise Birthgiver” is the prefect paranoia inducing portal to the madness, while “Wall of Water” blast into view with a more traditional yet, twisted furor. The eight songs be it more seething, lurching riffage, or sonic, programmed psychosis, or more often than not, both, each have a deep seeded, palpable, ‘nails scratching on a concrete walls’ sense of despair and madness to them rather than actual songs and structures-indeed order from chaos at times. The last half of the album is particularly bleak and neurotic with the ten-minute “Illuminate Eliminate”, “Psychic Horns”, “Key to the Storms” (which sees Csihar in truly retching form) and closer “Anti”, requiring therapy and a decontamination shower at their completion.
Again, I don’ pretend to be any sort of expert on black metal and certainly not Mayhem, but when an album has me so on edge and itching at imaginary bugs while listening to it on headphones in the dark, something good is happening.
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