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Mayhem, 'De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas' (1994)
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40. Mayhem, 'De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas' (1994)

Has any metal album been overshadowed more by the circumstances surrounding its making than De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas, the debut LP from seminal Norwegian black-metal quartet Mayhem? Dead (Per Yngve Ohlin), vocalist during the album's gestation, committed suicide before it was recorded. And despite early claims to the contrary, you're listening to a convicted killer, bassist Count Grishnackh (Varg Vikernes, also of Burzum) playing alongside his victim, guitarist Euronymous (Øystein Aarseth). Yet despite the unthinkable causes for its notoriety, Mysteriis remains a singularly potent document, its expressions of alienation and nihilism lent an icy severity by Aarseth's lacerating guitar buzz, session vocalist Attila Csihar's arcane croak and presentation of Dead's lyrical gothic terror and the pummeling drums of Hellhammer (Jan Axel Blomberg). "We were repulsed by music about love and kindness – we just hated it," Blomberg told Rolling Stone in February, when the present Mayhem lineup was playing Mysteriis complete on tour. "We wanted to make music that was the extreme opposite of that." Mission accomplished. S.S.