E.P. Review: Mayhem – Atavistic Black Disorder / Kommando


E.P. Review: Mayhem - Atavistic Black Disorder / Kommando
Reviewed by Dan Barnes

I’m going to stick my neck out here and suggest Mayhem is a band that needs no introduction. Volumes have been written and films made documenting the, often, troubled history of the band so I won’t be going down that route; rather, I’ll let the music do the talking as, no matter how nefarious their past, it is their music that matters most.

This EP can easily be separated into a tryptic, featuring one new song, two previously released bonus tracks and four cover versions.

Opening with Voces Ab Alta, the only new, original piece on Atavistic Black Disorder/ Kommando, it is apparent that the creative seam running through 2019’s Daemon is still delivering the highest quality product. Beginning with Hellhammer’s blasts, underscoring punching guitars that spout uneasy rhythms, it is clear that Mayhem is, and always has been, an utter anomaly. Nothing is ever off limits for the band, whether that be the unique vocal stylings of Atilla’s throaty rasp, to raw screams, to the grandiosely choral; or the blitzkrieg guitar attack from Teloch and Ghul, Mayhem is one of the very few bands that sound of themselves, while other, copycat, bands merely sound like them.

E.P. Review: Mayhem - Atavistic Black Disorder / Kommando

Mayhem’s recorded output – be they albums or EPs – always feel more like performance pieces than collections of songs, much closer to a living rite than a digital print.

Black Glass Communion and Everlasting Dying Flame were both featured as bonus tracks on the limited edition of Daemon; the former featuring skipping, off-beat rhythms, while the latter the relentlessly hypnotic swirl of guitar, as both sees Atilla’s demonic delivery spread Satanic sermons.

While any new Mayhem release is cause for black celebration, Atavistic Black Disorder/ Kommando is even more so due to the inclusion of four punk cover versions. Black Metal and Punk share a fraternal connection in that both are rooted in the DIY ethic and F-You approach, with neither being a genre likely to give quarter to anyone.

It’s great to hear Mayhem not plumping for the obvious tracks to cover, going instead for deeper cuts to call their own. Bringing Billy Messiah back to voice Discharge’s In Defence of Our Future is a dream as the band capture the d-beat perfectly, though clean, chugging chords and confrontational delivery; Maniac reappears on a Mayhem record, busting out his best Jello Biafra voice, for Dead Kennedys’ Hellnation and Rudimentary Peni’s Only Death, with its hook-laden riff played to perfection, is easily the snottiest of the four. The Ramones’ Commando is the least successful of the bunch due to the original’s thin sound and the fact that, by their very nature, Mayhem sound like moving mountains.

Never overly prolific in their output, any new Mayhem release is something to celebrate and Atavistic Black Disorder/ Kommando is certainly good cause. The juxtaposition of technically accomplished Black Metal with the more playful Punk covers shows that – for all their illustrious and nefarious – past, Mayhem sure know how to knock out a bloody good tune

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