Album review: MAYHEM – Psywar

Season Of Mist [Release 25.4.2014]

Controversy and instability have characterised Norwegian Black Metal pioneers Mayhem since their very inception back in 1984, so when long standing guitarist Blasphemer decided to leave the fold after thirteen years of active service nobody was really surprised.

Contrary to what some people might have thought, especially in the first few months following the guitarist’s departure, this Black Metal ‘story’ is far from over, as the remaining members of Mayhem took their time and found a truly worthy replacement, as this two track single entitled “Psywar” really demonstrates.

With a new album (note: “Esoteric Warfare”) currently set for release on the 23rd of May, “Psywar” mission is to provide the band’s long standing fans to test the waters of what Mayhem’s fifth studio album will sound like.

Well, if the remaining songs of “Esoteric Warefare” are even half as good as these two gems then, ladies and gents, we are in for a real treat!

Side A of this 7’’ release consists of the same titled “Psywar”, a three and a half minute belter filled with fat/massive-sounding riffs, intelligent technical drumming and featuring a variety of vocals, courtesy of legendary front man Attila Csihar.

Though predominantly fast in tempo, the song features some cleverly crafted atmospheric moments which will sound quite familiar to fans of the “De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas” era.

“Far Beyond The Event Horizon”, the second composition on offer, is equally varied, however the scales tip more towards the atmospheric side of things, as suggested by its long harmonic intro.

With Attila once again in staggering vocal form, newcomer Morten “Teloch” Iversen proves his quality pedigree by equally investing in clever lead harmonies and riffs of devastating urgency, the kind that always made Mayhem stand out from both respectable contemporaries and latter day pretenders alike.   

Mayhem’s label Season Of Mist will be releasing this 7’’ in various different formats, all, however, on a fairly limited basis, so if you wish to gets your hands on this beauty you’ll have to act fast. Is a two track 7’’ worth your time and money?

The quality of these two compositions and the promise they hold of a great new album to come say it does!

John Stefanis

Rating: ****1/2 (4.5/5.0)

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