Esoteric Warfare is Mayhem’s concept album about clandestine experiments of foreign nuclear powers during the Cold War. As such, there is an icy, distant feel to this, their seventh effort. Then again, doesn’t all black metal have something of a frosty coating? It’s not exactly fit for a Juicy Fruit commercial. And yet these dense thickets of growling manage to engage – though dyed-in-the-wool Mayhem fans might disagree. If you’ve been hanging on since the days of “Chainsaw Gutsfuck” and feel Esoteric Warfare fails to drag you deep enough down into the emotionless pit of eternal blackness, blame Necrobutcher. He’s the only member of Mayhem to submit to an exorcism, and even though he says it had no effect on his throbbing evil, he’s not out in the streets right now ripping non-believer flesh in the name of Odin. Or maybe blame newbie guitarist Charles Hedger; he doesn’t even have a satanic name!