This 2018 reissue of “Grand Declaration Of War”, Mayhem’s most effective as well as controversial album to date, is a good occasion to raw back into the river of memories towards the year 2000 – when it was originally released.
This has been the album that provoked cries of alienation and disrespect. To be honest it is not an easy album to listen, especially if you are accustomed to fast and raw Black Metal and you expect this to be as such. “Grand Declaration Of War” is, by all means, an experimental album in which each and every song has its unique purpose. Here Black Metal blends with other influences such as Progressive, Doom and Thrash. You can listen to classic evil shrieks along with long clean political-ish speeches by Maniac.
The core of this release is a sort of musical manifesto against Christianity where all the band members (with one exception) took the liberty to try different solutions to what they have been previously doing. Besides the above mentioned vocals approach, Blasphemer added a touch of 80’s thrash to his guitar works and Hellhammer incorporated jazz and prog elements to his famous blast beats. The only element being a little squeezed in a cage was the bass that didn’t particularly shine.
Mayhem were not the only one abandoning the path of true Black Metal at the end of the 90’s (do you remember of Emperor’s Prometheus, released the year after?). This search for new paths seemed to always lead to similar results. But for sure they were the ones being painted with the darker shades of black (the true Mayhem, after all), both inside and outside the Music realm, which can in part explain the huge controversy the album generated back then.
This re-release will probably not be able to make long time disappointed fans change their minds about Mayhem. But it is an excellent occasion to listen once again to a good album in a new shape.
Review by Gabriele Frontini
Managing Editor: Elsa Marques