MAYHEM — Deathcrush (review)

MAYHEM — Deathcrush album cover EP · 1987 · Black Metal Buy this album from MMA partners
3/5 ·
As my revived interest in extreme metal had me looking at what I had missed over the last 30 years and a book of photographs of the Norwegian black metal scene aroused my curiosity in the culture behind the music, I sat there before the computer with my finger hovering over the mouse, trying to decide between two Mayhem albums in my Amazon shopping cart. Which would be my first purchase: Deathcrush or De Mysteriis dom Sathanas? One more visit to YouTube confirmed it. That riff at the beginning of "Deathcrush" had to be in my music collection!

I'll admit that I am not a fan of lo-fi albums. There's lo-fi that's passable and then there's just low, very low fidelity. It's so low that it might as well be called infidelity. And that's a conundrum I was facing in deciding to bring home some Norwegian black metal. Would I be able to accept the lower quality in sound production? The answer was a resounding yes. I mean that's what the scene was all about, and as I soon found out, there were a lot of awesome guitar riffs coming out of the culture that sounded quite alright in all the scratchy scrunchy sound, the riff in "Deathcrush" being the best one I had heard yet.

The vocalist, Maniac, is pretty much that: a maniac screaming with a bleeding throat like he doesn't care, scaring children and old ladies, like a madman in a complete rage. Pretty cool, huh-huh. Add to that Necrobutcher's buzzing bass guitar and the chaos on drums that is Manheim, and of course Euronymous's thrash-influenced speedy riffing and you have a recipe for Mayhem indeed.

The album is madness and sounds like madness. They mess with your head opening the album with that weirdo instrumental composed by Conrad Schnitzler and seems to serve no comprehensible reason for being on the album and that warped piano bit by Manhein that preludes "Pure Fucking Armageddon". Then there's "Chainsaw Gutsfuck" which was at sometime credited with being the most gory song of whatever period before gorier songs came out (always trying to one up on the last one), and a cover of Venom's "Witching Hour" which I failed to recognize until I read that it was a cover of that song.

I'll say this: the band's mission statement seems to have been established within these meagre 18 minutes or so. It's either that you get it and think positively of the result or you think it's utter rubbish. Personally, I rather like it. After watching a few documentaries with Necrobutcher speaking about Mayhem and death metal, I don't think they plan to change their sound much either.
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