Originators of the Northern Darkness - Tribute to Mayhem
I don't know what your opinion about the tribute albums is, do you like them, tolerate them or just hate all such ideas… but personally I have nothing against, I like to listen to the covers and if they’re done well, then they may complete a great album. There were of course some terribly bad tribute compilations in the past, which had maybe three or four great bands and the rest was filled with useless shit. But there were some damn killer ones also, my favourites are "Slaytanic Slaughter - Tribute to Slayer", which contains all the best Swedish death metal bands, as well as "Darkthrone Holy Darkthrone" and "Tyrants From the Abyss - Tribute to Morbid Angel". But definitely the best tribute album ever is this one, "Originators of the Northern Darkness - tribute to Mayhem". Not only it contains only the leading bands from Scandinavia and Poland, but also has something truly devastating that is worth checking even on its own – it’s the amazing booklet.
If you're a black metal maniac, you must take a look at it. It contains many great old Mayhem pictures, with Dead and Euronymous, all from the classic line up and I still am thrilled when watching these photos. They're amazing. Besides that, there are some very interesting stories written by Metallion from Slayer Magazine and Bard Faust, ex Emperor drummer. Together, it creates one of the best CD booklets I've ever seen, very similar to the one from “Nordic Metal – Tribute to Euronymous”. But music wise "Originators of the Northern Darkness" is also something what I would want / expect from it. The bands that have been picked up for it are all great and you can be sure that they all deliver quality covers.
1. Immortal - From the Dark Past - One of the best covers on the CD! First, I just love the production on this song, which is actually very similar to "De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas". Also, Immortal did just excellent job playing this classic song, very intense, tight and brutal, absolutely amazing. I was also totally surprised when hearing Abbath's vocals, which are close to Attila's, but at the same time they keep the characteristic ravenous shriek of Immortal leader. Bloody fast and intense, really well executed!
2. Dark Funeral - Pagan Fears - I'm not a big fan of this Swedish band, especially I'm not a fan of Caligula's vocals (except what he’s done on Hypocrisy classic albums), but this version of "Pagan Fears" is not so bad. It's well played, the production is also good, although I don't necessarily like the drums' sound... I may also not completely be fond of the way Caligula tries to mime Attila, but fuck that... Even with it, it's a good cover.
3. Vader - Freezing Moon - Definitely the most surprising choice for the band from the whole compilation and the only death metal group from it. Vader picked up one of the best Mayhem tracks, "Freezing Moon", and I must say I was very worried whether they’ve done anything listenable with it. But they didn't fail, it's great! They've played it slightly faster, I think, but the cover do fuckin shreds and Peter's vocals in it are awesome - very obscure and demonic!
4. Emperor - Funeral Fog - The best cover from the whole album! Man, those Norwegians did such an excellent job here, that their version of "Funeral Fog" is maybe even better than the original! It's very nasty, very fast and relentless and it's a dynamite, which explodes straight in your face! Emperor has included some keyboards in few parts and that also sounds excellent and Ihsahn's vocals are just killer. GODS!
5. Behemoth - Carnage - I think this is already the third Mayhem song that Behemoth recorded - first there was "Deathcrush" on the legendary "From the Pagan Vastlands" demo and then "Freezing Moon", recorded during "Grom" session and released on the "Chaotica" compilation. I liked the first two and "Carnage" is also great, but maybe too death metal for Mayhem, I don't know... It may just be that sterile production that Behemoth achieved what makes it sound weird, but anyway, the band plays the song in ravaging way, it's pure violence and masterpiece of hateful, fast black metal. I remember seeing Behemoth live in the early 00's and they played "Carnage" few times and live this track has always fuckin' destroyed the venue. And Inferno on drums just rules here!
6. Limbonic Art - De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas - Mayhem played in a symphonic way? Luckily, Limbonic Art didn't desecrate it. The production on their cover is very raw and I must say it takes few seconds, before I can switch myself from the loud and bassy Behemoth sound to the mechanical and chaotic production of Limbonic Art. But I like it a lot, it's so fast you won't believe and the vocals are great also, Limbonic Art didn't try to copy Attila, but sang it in their own way, so they mix black metal shrieks with monumental singing and it fuckin works excellent!
7. Keep of Kalessin - Buried by Time and Dust - I really like this band, even their last LP called "Reptilian" is good I think. But the best thing this band has ever released was "Reclaim" miniCD - for which Keep of Kalessin had Attila Csihar on vocals in the line up. I don't know whether he sang on this cover also, but it is one deadly song - again fuckin fast and obscure, morbid and devastating, I just love this cover a lot and I think it's one of the best ones from the album. Besides, this is also my favourite Mayhem track ever!
8. Gorgoroth - Life Eternal - Another classic track from "De Mysteriis..." LP. As you may imagine, Gorgoroth plays their cover in effective, very obscure way, with the sound quality close to the chaos you know from "Destroyer" LP... But again I have nothing against it, it's damn black metal, so what do you expect? The song is very dark, with sinister, satanic atmosphere and that's how it should be! Amazingly, it would fit the original Gorgoroth materials perfectly.
9. Carpathian Forest - Ghoul - Finally someone, who picked up an older song... And Carpathian Forest played it in their own style and there's nothing more to be said about it! If you know their rotten black metal, then you know what to expect!
10. Seth - Into the Labirynth - Well, I must say I’m not the biggest enthusiast of the post-Euronymous Mayhem, with the exception of "Wolf's Lair Abyss" MLP. This is a killer release. Seth took a song from this record and I must say, while I don't like the music of Seth, they did nail this cover well with vicious perfection, playing it again fast as hell and with great, obscure feeling.
11. Gehenna - Cursed In Eternity - I love Gehenna, whatever album we will talk about, they're all great in my opinion. I also love their Darkthrone's "Transilvanian Hunger" cover. Here they again did great job and I’m sure it won’t disappoint the orthodox fans.
12. Absu - Deathcrash - Raw and filthy, sounding almost like black'n'roll, it's not the best version of this track I've ever heard, but it's a decent one surely.
Yeah… and that’s it. As you can see this album only some strong bands, without any complete failures, which is good of course. And as often as Mayhem has been hailed and covered by the others, I don’t think there would be that many better sounding covers as those that have been prepared for "Originators of the Northern Darkness". And trust me, together they complete really great album! So, even if normally you don’t like such things, you may need to change your mind and give a listen to this piece of music. I strongly recommend doing so and if you’re lucky, you may have a chance to buy a vinyl version of it. I only have a CD, but am happy with it also!