The Note4Note – Mayhem: PFA & Deathcrush

In this first session of the Note4Note Podcast, Chris and I dive into the music and madness of the notorious Norwegian black metal band Mayhem. We’ll be breaking down every song on each of their major releases, as well as discussing the band’s controversial beginnings and how those may (or may not) have influenced their music.

We’ll start with by dissecting Pure Fucking Armageddon, the band’s first EP. Following is a look at of the band’s sophomore EP,  Deathcrush.

We hope you enjoy going note 4 note with us!

Artwork for Mayhem's Pure Fucking Armageddon and Deathcrush EPs.

Show notes:

  • The documentary referenced early on in the podcast is Sam Dunn’s excellent Metal: A Headbanger’s Journey. Highly recommended by both of us.
  • There’s some track bleed-over in the middle of the podcast. Our apologies! Wouldn’t be a first attempt without a little hiccup, but we’ll try to smooth things out in the future. For now, enjoy the sound of four of our lovely voices instead of the usual two.

Introducing the Note4Note Podcast!

Do you like listening to metal? How about listening to people talk about metal? If either of these sound like something you’d like to do while awake in the pitch black hours of the night, swinging your little one in her car seat for the fifteenth night in a row, then perk your ears up, bucko.

In my continuing quest to diversify my use for this site and make it more open to the musical side of my life, I’d like to introduce the Note4Note Podcast, a new morsel of tasty audio goodness from yours truly and fellow Mysidia member Chris Kochon. As semi-accomplished metal musicians, we’re applying our songwriting chops and obnoxious opinions and are going in deep into songs, albums, even entire band discographies, picking them apart and analyzing why they are the way they are. It’s a project we’ve been wanting to launch for nearly a year, but for one reason or another never got our shit together to sling it out there in the open. But now, I’m happy to report, the shit has been slung, it has been gathered, patted down, and molded into something we’re ready to reveal. And you can listen to our very first episode here.

The Note4Note Podcast dives into songs, albums, and discographies with a critical eye.

Album Review: Devin Townsend Project – Transcendence

Music is one of those things, apart from maybe religious belief and hard drugs, that can elevate you, take you to that “higher place.” Although metal as a genre isn’t usually associated with that more Josh Groban-y type of feeling, I’d be willing to make a strong case for Transcendence, the latest from Devin Townsend Project.

As a whole, Transcendence evokes the consistent feeling that you’re listening to music with a higher purpose. It doesn’t feel same-y the way an album with too-similar songs from a creatively tapped-out band would — instead, it feels “on-theme.” Devin and Co. have been doing this music thing for years, they knew the sound and mood they wanted and they went for it. And damn every god ever, I’m happy to be along for the ride.

Transcendence by Devin Townsend Project.

“Truth” kicks off the album with an uplifting, waltzing synths-guitar melody, immediately slotting Transcendence into the discography that is Devin Townsend’s trademark mix of prog metal and ambient. Townsend’s grasp of melody has always been nothing short of divine, both vocally and on guitar, but he knows how to bring the hurt too (they don’t call him “Hevy Devy” for nothin’). “Failure” has a driving 6/4 rhythm that melds down-tuned chugging with melancholic choirs, while the impossibly huge sound of “Stormbending” strikes you with a veritable stormwall of keyboards and lead guitar notes while still retaining an ethereal air.

Even softer, more accessible songs like “Secret Sciences” have an honest-to-God Badass Metal Part ™ that mixes up the kinda corny pop mentality present in the verse and chorus. Diversity in songwriting and structure has always been one of Devin’s strong suits, but unlike albums like Epicloud no track seems out of place here; it’s all a necessary part of the spiritual journey. I’ll admit, I’m a little bummed with the closer being a cover song (Ween’s “Transdermal Celebration”), but that’s only because I want to bask in the album’s final moments with the same band I’d traveled with for the last forty minutes. Like, we spent all that time transcending and stormbending the shit out of everything, and then emerge into our new spiritual afterlife as fuckin’ Ween? What’s the symbolism here? The whole situation makes me feel weird and selfish, but mostly just weird.

Then again, the diversity of the other songs is so good, I can forgive ending on a spur note. And as if I needed one more reason to love Transcendence, I should also mention this album sounds fucking great. At times it hits with hurricane force, awashing you with waves of synths and guitars; other times it pulls back and we hear subtle bass grooves and ghost-note snares. For an album that feels like an 8-step process in a personal journey to find one’s self, the dynamics don’t only feel natural but intentional.

I can already tell you this is a contender for my album of the year, so if you’re sick of hearing me gush about it, just be on your way. Nothing has come even close this year to the kind of transcendent musical experience of Transcendence, so elevate your listening habits and give this a spin.

Support The Devin Townsend Project and buy Transcendence here.