Silvester Ansfang is a nice, ominous little intro that prepares us for the Mayhem that is about to follow. With Deathcrush it is business as usual at the black metal office. Euronymous’ guitars crunch bone and sinew and Manheim punches away at anything and everything, whereas Maniac screams at passing ghosts and ghouls. The unceremonious CG and Necrolust establish themselves on the listener with a simple, decorous black metal elegance. All tracks seem to have several degrees of freedom within an over-determined arch of musical emotion and seem to have come together in the given form only by sheer chance. Caution: Don’t expect to be enthralled,Deathcrush is not intended to entertain. It is meant to involve. Mayhem are masters of the art of music not because they intentionally create chaos, that is too nihilistic, nor because they want to impress you with any virtuoso performances, but because they accept the ground rules of chaos and create from it something resembling beautiful order. But they only go half the way. And this is where you come in…
Norwegian death metal originally released in 1987 and limited to 1000 copies.
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Deathcrush is frozen into the godly status of black metal. Most people think of De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas when they think of Mayhem (not that it is a bad album), but Deathcrush is what started it all. Its a pretty simple album, but simplicity proves to be a virtue here. The opening riff for the title track is simple but it kicks some MAJOR a$$! This album was very contreversal in its time, and still holds up to the title of music made by black metal gods. Read the lyrics too, especally for Chainsaw Gutsf**k. Awesome blazing black metal by the legendary Mayhem.
As far as I recall, this was the first Mayhem album I had listened to when I first became curious as to what Mayhem was actually like. I remember from the first listen I was put off by everything about the album and quickly deemed that Mayhem sucked, simply because the poor production style was new to me. How wrong I was. After learning more about black metal in general, I decided to check it out again. At this point, I’m saddened that not many black metal artists are as good as early Mayhem was.
The only thing about the album that kind of put me off was the first track, “Silvester Anfang.” It’s much better to listen to when played live to get the loud and audible properties, but on this album it sounds kind of sloppy. Everything else about this album is no joke – the guitars and riffs are raw, heavy, and crushing. Manheim pounding away on the kit makes it all more enjoyable; because he doesn’t just rely on speed…he actually drums very well and offers variety. There are times where the classic chaotic blast beats are implemented into the mix; adding another splatter of Mayhem’s element of wickedness.
In my opinion, this was Maniac’s best vocal work with Mayhem. His screams of despair fit the atmosphere of the music more than on any other Mayhem album. Maniac’s gut puking screams suck you in and it’s damn near scary how he can make the music very emotional and creepy with his wailing cries. Necrobutcher’s bass is extremely fuzzy and heavily distorted, and surprisingly, its presence is shown immensely. It’s kind of hard to catch at certain fast points due to the sub-par production, but for the majority the thick pummeling sound stands out very well.
The other thing I didn’t like was the short track list. I realize this is an EP, but I wish there had been more on this album. The catchy parts of this album seem more revolved around chunk riffing than fast paced semi-thrash riffs. It’s got its pernicious and speed parts, but I find the chunky parts to be much more enjoyable. The influence of Venom shows highly, and not just in the cover of the song “Witching Hour.” Songs like “Deathcrush,” “Necrolust,” and “Pure F***ing Armageddon” show definite signs of thrash influence with fast (yet simple) tremolo picking.
Euronymous makes it all work nicely, actually. For such poor production it still manages to offer a strong, desolate, and enjoyable experience. I’d recommend it to any and all true black metal fans who can appreciate real old school black metal. I kind of wish Maniac would use the same vocal style he used on Deathcrush on all other Mayhem albums he was on, because I think Deathcrush is his best vocal work. This is an important piece of black metal history; obtain this brutal and primitive EP whenever you can.
This was Mayhem’s second demo, the first came out a year prior to “Deathcrush”, which was a pioneering effort for it’s time (‘87). There had been great, heavy, black bands before Mayhem (Venom, Hellhammer, Bathory, Celtic Frost), but nothing to prepare anyone for the brutality that Mayhem would unleash with this classic. In fact, this was SO underground that in ‘87 very few people even knew of their existence outside of the small but burgeoning death metal scene in their native Norway. So…what you have here is 17 minutes and 29 seconds of pure unadulterated raw evil. Every track is as potent today (even after Mayhem’s future-and greater- recordings) as it was when it first made the rounds to a disbelieving cult all those years ago. The sound of “Deathcrush” is the early rumblings of the greatest metal band in existence, Mayhem.
“Deathcrush” is one of those items which hold a godly status among the underground Metal adepts. Most times this blindly worshipping feedback appears to be determined by totally non-musical factors, yet Mayhem’s first “proper” release stands high on the top of its unquestionable historical significance.
The year was 1987, and when anyone mentioned “extreme Metal”, everybody would think “Reign In Blood”, of course. At the same time, however, the forefathers of Black Metal were busy pushing the insane aggression of Thrash to new extremes, a courageous attitude which would ultimately give birth to two genres: Death Metal and Black Metal. “Deathcrush” is one of the most significative documents of this evolution. It’s a short, hit-and-run, less than twently minutes slab of pure aggression, where classic elements of Thrash are defiled by what could be described as the seeds of Black/Death by today’s standards, but out by a bunch of not excessively skilled musicians who definitely knew what they wanted. At the time, this sounded like pure insanity, and today, the effect still refuses to wear off.
Oddly enough, the album opens with a kind of “melodic” drum machine track named “Silvester Anfang”, composed for the band by Conrad Schnitzer. Mayhem have always been weirdos, no doubt about it. But then the title track kicks in, and it’s compromiseless Metal insanity. The first riff is actualy pretty interesting (and, most importantly, just plain cool) with its odd tempo; Euronymous basic guitar buzz is well backed by Necrobutcher’s distorted bass sound, the result being a harsh bu rather thick sound. The drums, despite Manheim’s rather sloppy playing (well, nobody in the band really shines at this stage), have a clear and strong sound, which has just one drawback: it tends to drown out the guitars and bass… Maniac’s vocals, finally, are full of reverb in true eraly Black Metal tradition, sound (thankfully) nothing like the gibberish puking he’s been spewing out since the band’s reunion; he uses a very high pitched and insane shrieking (think of Varg Vikernes on heavy drugs), which fits the mood of the songs pretty well. Anyway, the song soon turns into a very fast blasting fest, with none in the band strictly following a precise tempo, but the effect is dang shattering anyway… I wonder how people did react to this at the time.
“Chainsaw Gut—-” opens with a slow distorted bass riff, soon joined by drums and guitars; this song is the slowest of the lot, and is built on an interestingly tempoed riff similar to the one used on the opening riff in “Deathcrush”. Original and effective – who needs technical perfection when we have these qualities?
“Witching Hour” is a Venom cover which best exemplifies how Mayhem crafted their unique sound by enhancing the madness found in their sources of inspiration… more in depth, the rendition of this song is FAST (just compare it with the original and see for yourself… and keep in mind that the year was 1987). Original session vocalist Messiah appears as a guest on this one, and unlike on the “Pure F——- Armageddon” demo, we can hear his vocals, which aren’t that special (a kind of low and rather breathy spoken voice) but make a nice contrast with Maniac’s banshee-like screams (don’t miss that chilling “Witching hoooooooooooouuuuuuuuuuurrrrrrr!!!!” at the end!).
“Necrolust”… this song alone pioneered a whole new style of playing. It opens with a little neat mid-paced, palm muted riff (Celtic Frost was the band’s main inspiration along with Venom), but soon turns into a relentless assault of insanely fast riff. Ceaseless beats and razor sharp picking, and unearthly screams to top the whole thing – isn’t it a bit the formula of modern raw Black Metal?
“(Weird) Manheim” is a short and indeed weird “distorted piano” (at least it sounds like that) interlude which leads into the epitome of aggression… “Pure F——- Armageddon”. This song is just what the title says: after a short and great thrashy beginning, noise begins (of course not the terrible kind of noise). Definitely one of the (if not the) 100% compromise free slabs of Metal ever put together. Vocalist Messiah handles this one by himself, as he already did on the demo of the same title… it’s ok, vocals wouldn’t really change the result here. And the year was 1987. Can you say “unbelievable”?
This, ladies and gentlemen, is “Deathcrush”, and if you want to dig deep to the roots of extreme music, this is more than mandatory.