Mayhem – A Grand Declaration Of War (2000)

My recent Sehnsucht review reminded me that I have to touch upon Grand Declaration Of War by Mayhem. Contrary to a lot of Mayhem fans, Grand Declaration is my favourite album from the group. The clinical execution, insane song structures and bizarre techno passages are a hundred thousand million miles away from Deathcrush and the like; the fact that this is even the same band (to a degree) is startling.

Maniac is not my favourite Mayhem vocalist. In fact, it is quite hard to pick a favourite, as all of them have brought their own dark magic to the proceedings in various different ways. On Grand Declaration Of War, Maniac acts as the perverted ring leader; his surreal, jarring commentary leading the dexterous and intense onslaught with a psychopathic confidence. Meanwhile, Hellhammer Featuring 9000 Triggers lays total and absolute waste to the drum kit. Love him or loathe him, the drumming performance here is nothing short of mind boggling. The guitar work too, is a lot sharper than the barbed wire on the cover art, no doubt, with pure wandering, barbed, terrifying black metal riffage!

Stand out tracks for me include the erratic “A Time To Die”, the bizarre “A Bloodsword and a Colder Sun” (parts one and two!) and “Crystalized Pain in Deconstruction”. Whatever your opinion on this experimental album, there can be no doubt that it has pushed the definitions of what can be considered black metal.