Mayhem is a legend, and an institution in extreme music. 1994’s epochal De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas still shocks with the essence of pure evil it conveys, while at the same time it also was, and still is, one of the most original and unique expressions of the black metal genre. The new, long-awaited, sixth full-length studio album by legendary Norwegians will be released in 6 weeks exactly, by Century Media Records. We at Velvet Thunder were so impressed with it, that an interview with main composer Teloch (aka Morten Bergeton Iversen), was obligatory. We found him a bit tired from all of the promo duties surrounding the forthcoming release Daemon, but still willing to address our questions.
So, it all starts with nice words and deserved praise for the impressive new album. Actually, one of the surprising information in the label’s press release, was, that when Mayhem had already booked the tour in support of Daemon a year ago, they haven’t even started working on the album yet. Sounds stressful, right? Not for Morten, it seems. “Hmm, I don’t know if it was actually so stressful, because even though we started working a bit late, we already had a lot of material composed since the last album. So the harder part was to decide which parts we should keep so that they make up the best possible songs. So….no, I don’t think it was stressful at all.”
Oh, okay. For us (or….. at least for Stoyan Tsonev, cough, cough), no matter how detached one wants to look at it, he experiences a new album of a band he likes, as a fan, first and foremost. Daemon seems much easier to grasp even from the first listen, than 2014’s Esoteric Warfare. It is still complex, but at the same time more accessible and, dare we say it, much more old-school in structure. “Yeah, that was part of the plan”, Teloch confirms, “– to make it more simplified and not to overthink it. The idea was not to make it more accessible, but more simple. That was actually very challenging for us, because we didn’t work like that before”. It seems that there is a reason for that decision though and part of this state of mind was that during the last several years, Mayhem has toured extensively, performing the legendary De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas in its entirety. The new album Daemon, we think, sounds like an album that can be called “the spiritual successor” to De Mysteriis more than any other Mayhem album. Such comparisons seem to be intimidating. “I heard other people say that too. For us it was never a goal to create De Mysteriis part II but in fact the opposite. Like I said, when we started to simplify things, we somehow brought back the feeling of the old Mayhem vibe, I guess.”. So, does that mean the album’s atmosphere reaches the listener in a more direct, striking way, than, for example, Esoteric Warfare, which required more effort in that respect? “Exactly. What is your favorite song off the record?” – Morten’s question finds us off-guard. This is really hard to say, because the whole album is so good. We have been listening to it for five days straight and it’s hard to pick a single song. Maybe Aeon Daemonium? Maybe.
We will definitely elaborate more on that in the review of the album, but it has to be stated that it choke-full of absolutely super EVIL riffs and melodies and every song is like an onion – scale after scale of nuances are peeled and found with each new listen. Morten agrees that the process of creating a full fleshed song from the main guitar riff is a challenging process: “It’s hard to tell what the main riff is, haha! It is a long process and a very dynamic one. The song evolves a lot from the initial idea and when it is finished it is hard to tell which particular idea it started from. It starts from a simple idea and suddenly evolves into something else and finally the finished song starts to live its own life in a way.”Daemonwill be released in several different formats by Century Media Records but one of the limited editions includes two more original tracks – Everlasting Dying Flame and Black Glass Communion, which did not make it to the track list of the regular edition. This is not something we haven’t seen before but the quality of these songs is not less than the others. Who made this decision? “We tried to stay out of it, actually, and have an outside opinion of it. So the label was more involved than us even in defining the tracklist order and the final tracks to make it to the album.” OK, that sounds like something we would’ve done ourselves if we had to make the choice of which songs will be the “shortest straws” – pass that to someone else to care about, haha.
Morten Iversen, who also happens to play in The Konsortium and Nidingr, has been part of Mayhem since 2011 with almost all music in the last two albums being his contribution. It’s interesting how a band, which has had several main composers through the years, accepts a new key member. “They have asked me to join the band before, in 2009 I think, but I had to turn it down, because I was touring with Gorgoroth at the time. But then they asked me again and I said yes. It was natural because I have always been into writing and composing that type of music.” And, is it easy to work with a person like Attila Csihar? His artistic, stage persona is overwhelming and more than eccentric, to say the least. Does this influence his part in creating a new Mayhem record and his vision of how a Mayhem album should sound? “He has always had an open vision to what anyone brings to the table”, the guitarist clarifies. “For this album, for example, everyone contributed with lyrics – not only Attila, but also Necrobutcher and Hellhammer. So Daemon is a team effort more than ever before.”
When we started to simplify things, we somehow brought back the old Mayhem vibe”
Morten (or Teloch, if he insists) has been a really busy man as of late. No matter his other band Nidingr is not much active, but can something be expected on that front? “No. I have been really busy with the new Mayhem album and all of the promotion that is going on now, but I will probably start writing music in the next few weeks and there will definitely be news next year.”. Here’s hoping. We are finishing our talk the way we started it – with compliments for the fantastic new Mayhem album – the album that Mayhem fans have been waiting for so long, and, obviously, one of 2019’s best extreme releases. We will elaborate on that soon. Just follow the Reviews section.