Mayhem's first official release, the Deathcrush EP is one of those contradictory recordings which arguably vaulted an entire subgenre -- black metal -- towards the fulfillment of its destiny while seemingly setting back the overall state of heavy metal beyond its prehistoric past. The primary reason being its outlandishly raw, lo-fidelity sound quality, of course, which made even stylistic forefathers Venom (who had coined the "black metal" term a few years earlier under similarly unlikely circumstances, and whose "Witching Hour" Mayhem tears through here), resemble Phil Spector's Wall of Sound, by comparison. In fact, only the earliest efforts by Sweden's Bathory, and late-'80s recordings by Brazilian acts like Vulcano, Sarc¢fago, and Sepultura, plumbed comparable depths of extremity to lunatic Mayhem thrashers like "Chainsaw Gutsfuck," "Necrolust," "Pure Fucking Armageddon," and the title track. Yet, Deathcrush still found space within its 18, mostly frantic minutes, for a few surprising stylistic asides, like the foreboding marshal percussion of intro "Silvester Anfang" and the lonely keyboard chimes of "(Weird) Manheim," that already hint at black metal's broader aesthetic possibilities. As a result, Deathcrush anticipates the contradictory essence -- part simplicity defined, part progressive exploration -- of the emerging Norwegian black metal movement, and will therefore strike a primal chord of recognition with all devoted enthusiasts of the genre. ~ Eduardo Rivadavia
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