MAYHEM – Esoteric Warfare

MAYHEM – Esoteric Warfare

Many times I have given up on Mayhem and many times I have returned. In fact, I have bought and tried to love every full length album they have released since their legendary debut (which still retains its place of honour in the dark recesses of my heart).

Tried to love, because in every case, after months of hard work, I failed.

And once again I have failed here. To describe ‘Esoteric Warfare’ quickly and efficiently all I really need to say is that this is more of the same fare bought to you on ‘Ordo ad Chao’. And it is actually better than ‘Ordo ad Chao.’ The churning chaos is more compelling and the riffs are better strung together. On some completely sub-conscious level, ‘Esoteric Warfare’ draws you in inexorably.

But I am already sick of the approach Mayhem have taken on the past two albums – to such an extent that I have even realised that ‘Ordo ad Chao’ is now finished for me too. What approach? The dense, cloying atmosphere? No, that is probably the best part of the whole thing. What I am sick of is this – when Mayhem play one or two lingering, distorted chords and let them hang in the air and then have a quick blast section with fast strumming and a machine-like pummelling of the bass drums. That little phrase or trick is so over-used that it just becomes a snore fest and really lowers my appreciation of the good things on this album.

So the answer is this: if you like ‘Ordo ad Chao,’ you will almost certainly think this is better. However, if you have ambivalent feelings towards Mayhem’s latest direction, and are starting to feel a little tired with their output, then maybe it is time to throw in the towel go and listen to something else. I’m afraid that is what I am going to do.