Mayhem - Atavistic Black Disorder / Kommando

Key Facts

Country: 🇳🇴

Genre: Black Metal

Record Label(s): Century Media Records

Release Date: 9th July 2021

Band Members

Necrobutcher - Bass 

Hellhammer - Drums 

Attila - Vocals 

Teloch - Guitars 

Ghul - Guitars

Mayhem - Voces Ab Alta

Rating (out of 5🤘): 🤘🤘.5
Favourite Track(s): Voces Ab Alta

Mayhem. One name that epitomises what black metal is today, for nearly thirty years at the summit of the black metal mountain. Following up their crushing 2019 album Daemon, their new release Atavistic Black Disorder / Kommando is a two for one deal as the EP is split in two distinct parts. The first half is one previously unreleased original song, accompanied by the Daemon deluxe edition bonus tracks. The second half sees them cover punk legends Dead Kennedys, Ramones and Discharge alongside a cover of the lesser known Rudimentary Peni, a British anarcho-punk band. This mash up of unexpected covers with previously released and unreleased originals may strike some fans as confusing as the contrast between the two halves is quite substantial. However in some respects, it is also interesting to see what influences the most infamous black metal band on the planet. 

The EP is a strange one, as many of us would have heard the bonus tracks for Daemon already because they're available on Spotify, so it is just confusing that they'd then be reused on the next release since that album. With the only new song being the sinister and old school Mayhem sounding Voces Ab Alta, it does lead to a bit of confusion as to the purpose of this EP. However Voces Ab Alta is a dark and brooding song, carrying on from where Daemon left off by channelling the old school, signature Mayhem sound and giving it a modern black metal sonic upgrade (which is probably more down to the production). Musically the song has some interesting, moving vocal layers that build as the song builds into this monstrous thrashing beast that puts you into a sinister, ritualistic trance as the thundering tremolo rhythms wash over you. Apart from that, there isn't anything really new and exciting about the first half of the EP, the two bonus tracks are probably better explained in the review for Daemon. The second half of the EP is a blink and you'll miss it flash in the pan collection of punk covers. Whilst it is interesting to hear what has influenced the band, it sounds so uncharacteristic and downright strange to hear one of the most influential black metal bands, with one of the most seminal albums of the genre in De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas to go all out punk. Granted, some elements of punk and hardcore made it into the black metal genre, and whilst it is good that the bands have offered something different to the fans, if the facial expressions could be recorded there would be visible confusion as the sound is so contrasting. In some ways they shatter the dark mystique of the original Mayhem songs earlier on the EP. Of course, it would be a very risky move to associate any possible political motives to them, unless this could be Mayhem's response to the current situation in the world. Even so, there is two very distinct and individual EPs here that have been slammed together with no real logic or reason. The crossover from the Atavistic Black Disorder half into the Kommando half is jarring and unpleasant. As for reusing the old bonus tracks of an album that has already been out for two years, it feels a bit lazy from a new release perspective. Writing Voces Ab Alta to such a good quality builds the excitement but that is then dashed when you hear a song that is all too familiar. On the flip side, it easy to understand that the recording and production process for their hopefully new album was kicked further into the future by COVID, this EP serves as a reminder as to why they are the biggest name in black metal. Even so, it is fair to say that a lot of us are happier to just wait for new music than a compilation EP. Overall, this release is confusing, and in essence is just a stop gap to hopefully an album that out does Daemon

Despite the musical confusion, the production across the board is very tight. The guitar tones in the Atavistic Black Disorder half sound expanded upon compared to the versions of the same songs found on Daemon. Thick rhythm tones underpin the discordant and sharp lead tones that adds to the sinister vibes of the songs. The bass tone is thick and adds a significant weight to the mix, whilst the kick drum clicks metronomically. Credit where it's due the tom drum panning is excellent as you can feel every fill thunder down your ear canals. The snare could use a little less reverb to really bring out the snap, as it gets buried in some areas of the mix. The mix on the Kommando half is very much one that demonstrates the benefits of modern technology. Whilst it gives these old school punk songs a new lease of life, it doesn't have the gritty punk feel that the bands that they are covering have. Even so, the guitar tone buzz and fizz with distortion and the bass rumbles restlessly below them. The drums sound tight (not very punk, but enjoyable all the same), the kick has a solid thump and the snare snaps like a shot gun. Overall, the mixes of the two halves are enjoyable and bring new life to the songs. 

Unfortunately, Atavistic Black Disorder / Kommando is pretty much just feels like inbetween album filler material. Whilst the punk covers are exciting to some extent by offering the listener into some of the influences behind the band and black metal as a whole, it probably would have been best to have them on a stand alone EP away from already establish black metal songs. 


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