A Grand Declaration of War, 10 years on

Mayhem’s much-reviled Grand Declaration of War turned 10 this summer. I was never quite sure what to make of this album, but its tenth birthday is a good reason to give it another chance. Some of the musicianship is jaw-dropping (‘A Time to Die’ being a standout), and at points the icy, post-apocalyptic atmosphere is right on the money. Not that it’s hard to find faults: the spoken-word histrionics are at best an acquired taste, and the constant stop-start approach never allows the record to gain any lasting momentum. But in its finer moments, Grand Declaration of War is an adventurous and thought-provoking step in the dark.

The decade since its release has seen a massive explosion of bands mixing progressive elements into their Black Metal, dabbling with electronics, and pushing the limits of technicality. None of this stuff shocks fans any more – along with shoegaze, drone and post rock, it has become part of the wallpaper of modern BM.

If this record came out today, would it be loved, hated or just ignored?


  • Reply October 2, 2010


    I think this album would gain a greater air of appreciation. Never been a fan of Maniac as a vocalist but my favourite lyric: YOUR LIFE IS DEAD PRIEST.

  • Reply October 3, 2010


    I have been a fan of this album since it's release (even though you are right about the sometimes annoying start stops and lots of spoken word / weird parts on the album).

    If it would came out today it would fit right between the other bands that are doing this stuff. I guess it would always be hyped because of it being Mayhem.

    @Alex in Mayhem I have always been more of a fan of Maniac than the other vocalists they have had. His vocal style just fits the later Mayhem music more in my opinion.

  • Reply October 3, 2010


    I enjoyed the album the first time I heard it, and still think it holds up. What's funny is the shit storm of controversy, and rabid arguments any discussion of this album brings up.

  • Reply October 5, 2010


    I never quite understood the vitriol against it; it's fairly safe to assume that if it were released today then nobody would bat an eyelid.

    As far as the vocals go, I reckon Maniac did a much better job on Chimera, although his style on GDoW is well-suited suited to the msuic,

  • Reply October 5, 2010


    What to people think of A Bloodsword and a Colder Sun? For me it's a highlight – I think they pull it off well, and it's perfectly consistent with the atmosphere of the record.

  • Reply October 5, 2010


    I never liked Mayhem. When I first started listening to Black Metal I really hated them actually. Now I can bear them. I haven't heard alot of their material lately besides 'Deathcrush' and 'Live in Leipzig'…

  • Reply October 5, 2010


    One of the few albums that hooked me at first listen and that I still listen on a regular basis. Guitar work is amazing.

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