WHY PRODUCTION MATTERS: MAYHEM’S ORDO AD CHAO
Mayhem’s Ordo Ad Chao is supposed to be one of the best black metal releases of the year – if not the best metal release of the year period. I say “supposed to” because I can’t actually get all the way through it. Why? Simple: it sounds like it was recorded in a bum’s asshole. The production is that crappy.
Look: Attila Csihar’s voice is legitimately disturbing. The way he growls in slow, hushed tones evokes nothing less than a serial killer whispering into your ear about how he’s going to use you as a human sacrifice to Satan, and it is, to put it mildly, unsettling. In fact, the lousy production almost – almost – works to the band’s advantage: this album has the feel of some evil, ancient relic, never meant to be discovered; I imagine that it’s the closest I’ll ever get to the feeling those kids in The Ring had when they watched the video that would kill them a week later. The fact that this band has created so much controversy over the years – members have actually killed one another! – only helps up the creepiness quotient. Dimmu Borgir, this band ain’t.
But the work here is generally so shoddy that I can’t imagine anyone who isn’t already a hardcore Mayhem fan would ever listen to it. The analog hiss that blankets all the music doesn’t sound like an effect – it sounds like the band made the album with the shittiest recording equipment ever. This isn’t even good enough to be a demo; it’s actually hard to hear anything (Is there a bass player on this album? I can’t tell, since it sounds like no one mixed it). I can’t really imagine why Mayhem would choose to release an album this way, but they have. My hat is off to the critics who could actually get through the whole thing and felt it warranted a decent review; but I hope they’re not rewarding sub-professional work just because the band has street cred.