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Review: Mayhem - Chimera

Label: Season of Mist
Year released: 2004
Duration: 44:35
Tracks: 8
Genre: Black Metal

Rating: 3.75/5

Review online: July 21, 2004
Reviewed by: Sargon the Terrible
Readers Rating

Rated 3.3/5 (65.95%) (37 Votes)

Well, well, the new Mayhem. I suppose it should be no surprise that the Allfathers of Black Metal are perhaps the most histrionic band in history. Between the infamous murders, suicides and jail terms/escapes in the band's past and the diarrhea of EP's, splits and singles that makes up their incredibly confusing discography, no other band has taken up more space with less output than these guys. If "De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas" wasn't a classic of BM this band would have been long since consigned to the joke bin. I suppose if nothing else the fact that this is only their third full-length album in almost 18 years tells you exactly how fucked-up Mayhem's past has been.

After the universally loathed "Grand Declaration Of War" Hellhammer and Co. had a lot of work to do to produce an album that would get any respect at all, especially since a lot of BM purists regard everything after "Mysteriis" as nothing more than raping Euronymous' corpse for the paycheck. I have two things to report in regards to "Chimera". One, it is not really anything like old Mayhem. And two, it's a pretty good album.

Let's face it. Euronymous was Mayhem. You could change other members around all you wanted (and he frequently did), but the sound of the band died with him, as no one else was an equal to his strange songwriting genius. So this is Mayhem in name only. But that doesn't make it crap.

Thankfully, for those who hated "Grand Declaration" Mayhem have ditched the experimental shit and gone straight for the throat. This is blasty, speedy Black Metal with a slight progressive edge to the riffing, which causes this to remind me of Enslaved's "Below The Lights" in places. The riffs are cool, the drumming is in places excellent, and the mix is very clear and even – something new for this band. Maniac's vocals have drawn a lot of criticism, but I don't think he's that bad. He just doesn't have a very distinctive voice. "Generic" is the word here. Some of these songs are pretty damned cool, like "Dark Night Of The Soul" and "Slaughter Of Dreams", but others like the dull opener "Whore" or the silly "Rape Humanity With Pride" are just so by the numbers they practically snore.

The package I have is a digipack, though a rather elaborate four-leaf foldout kind. The interior layout is pretty dull, and the cover art looks like a blurry picture of Satan giving someone a noogie. I will say that I think the greatest disgrace to the Mayhem name here is the utterly awful lyrics. Marduk do much better, Hell, so does Belphegor.

I think the greatest crime of this CD is just how pedestrian a lot of it is. "Chimera" is not bad, or wussy or sellout. It is entertaining, and in places genuinely impressive, but after so long, and so much bullshit, it's painfully clear that Mayhem have become irrelevant to the Black Metal scene, and are offering nothing but more of the same. If this was an album by a young band it would show promise, but from the former masters it comes off as rather little, rather late.

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