Mayhem: Grand Declaration of War (2000)

Mayhem’s “Grand Declaration of War” detonated upon the black metal scene. Detonated is the only word for this blast of nihilistic experimentation. Fusing black metal’s fury with industrial noise and avant-garde ambition, the album split fans between adoration and revulsion, cementing its place as a boundary-pushing landmark.

Track Listing

  1. A Grand Declaration of War
  2. In the Lies Where Upon You Lay
  3. A Time to Die
  4. View from Nihil (Part I of II)
  5. View from Nihil (Part II of II)
  6. A Bloodsword and a Colder Sun (Part I of II)
  7. A Bloodsword and a Colder Sun (Part II of II)
  8. Crystallized Pain in Deconstruction
  9. Completion in Science of Agony (Part I of II)
  10. To Daimonion (Part I of III)
  11. To Daimonion (Part II of III)
  12. To Daimonion (Part III of III)
  13. Completion in Science of Agony (Part II of III)

Length: 48:01


Experimental black metal

Release Date

June 6th, 2000

Record Label

Season of Mist (Europe), Necropolis Records (United States)

The Lineup for the Album

  • Maniac (Sven Erik Kristiansen) – Vocals
  • Blasphemer (Rune Eriksen) – Guitars
  • Hellhammer (Jan Axel Blomberg) – Drums
  • Necrobutcher (Jørn Stubberud) – Bass

Recording Date

November 1999 – January 2000

Recording Studio

Fagerborg Studio (Oslo, Norway) and Top Room Studio (Oslo, Norway)

Produced by

Mayhem and Børge Finstad

Album Themes/Concept

War and Conflict: The title and lyrics contain imagery of violence, chaos, and a battle against established orders. There are interpretations ranging from literal war to a metaphorical battle of ideologies.

Nihilism: Many lyrics are steeped in nihilistic philosophy, rejecting all forms of meaning, morality, and religion.

Anti-Traditionalism: The album presents itself as a confrontation against both the norms of black metal and expectations placed upon Mayhem as a legendary band in the scene. This defiance of tradition is a theme in itself.

Friedrich Nietzsche: The album title and some lyrics draw inspiration from the writings of the German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, particularly his book “Twilight of the Idols”, which included a section called “a grand declaration of war”.

Album Mood

Aggressive: Furious blast beats, dissonant riffs, and Maniac’s chaotic vocals create a sense of violence and unrest.

Chaotic: Unconventional song structures, jarring electronic elements, and sudden shifts in tempo contribute to an atmosphere of disorientation.

Nihilistic: The lyrics and themes of the album express a dark, brooding, and destructive worldview.

Experimental: The album’s unique sonic experimentation produces moments of strangeness, tension, and even a sense of futuristic coldness.

Album Trivia

Vocalist Change: “Grand Declaration of War” marked Maniac’s return as Mayhem’s vocalist after a significant absence. His theatrical, unhinged vocal style became a defining element of the album.

Musical Departure: The industrial and avant-garde experimentation on “Grand Declaration of War” caused massive controversy and split Mayhem’s fanbase. Many fans were shocked and alienated by the stark departure from their previous sound.

Polarizing Reception: “Grand Declaration of War” was incredibly divisive upon release. Some fans embraced its experimental nature, while others were alienated by the departure from traditional black metal sounds.

Legacy: Over time, “Grand Declaration of War” has gained more appreciation. Its influence can often be heard in modern avant-garde and experimental black metal bands.

Release Date

June 6, 2000