Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Mayhem - Life Eternal EP (2009)

Are you willing to exchange currency for slight variations of things you have already owned? Are you stuck forever in the early to mid 90s? Do you have a Mayhem hardon the size of a shadowy cathedral? These are all questions to mull over when considering a purchase of Life Eternal, which is a tape of rough mixes from the De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas sessions, originally made by Attila Csihar. If this were any lesser band, of course, something like Life Eternal would be almost guaranteed to be ignored, but Mayhem have the advantage of an almost Beatles-esque rabid following who collect bootleg recordings, rare and vintage clips and just about anything else they can get their hands on. Such is the reward for notoriety. Necrobutcher, Hellhammer and Euronymous could have recorded themselves chatting over beers at a noisy disco, or taking a piss on a camping trip while shooting the breeze, and people would pay for it.

So, at least with Life Eternal, there is some music to experience. Five cuts from the full-length album the band were about to unleash, with some altered vocals that didn't all make the final cut of the record. Side by side, there's not much of a difference in the actual music. You'll hear a click track here, where on DMDS it disappears. The guitars sound slightly more subdued than on the full-length, where they are more potent and bright. But the biggest deviation is likely in Attila Csihar's performance. The style is pretty similar, but his enunciation on several of the lines is changed. You might hear some more of his cleaner, low-end droning style than on the 'official' version of a track, and because the guitars are not as prominent here, he does stand out slightly more. There is also a brief drum intro to "Funeral Fog" which the band clipped off during the full length mixing and mastering, but it's all of about a second and really adds nothing...I can see why it was castrated.

All told, this is not something I really cared for. I enjoy Attila a great deal, but I'm not sure I'm willing to exchange his dialed up presence for the less resilient guitars, and even so, I never found the varied vocals to be all that more compelling than DMDS. It makes a lot of sense to me why these are not the versions on the final album, and thus it seems like no more than a means to rake in a few bucks with a limited edition release. Granted, with its DVD box packaging and other baubles, Life Eternal is a sure collectors' item, and a cool little 'peep' from Csihar's personal label Saturnus, which hasn't seemed. But for its musical value, it's a pretty vapid affair best suited to those that like to pore over the details, and in no way supercedes the quality of the tracks' inevitable evolution.

Verdict: Indifference [5.5/10]


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