Sound — 8
For most Black Metal fans, Mayhem is considered as the best Black Metal band that ever existed/will ever exist. The band is has been surrounded by controversy when their singer Per Yngve Ohlin aka. "Dead" has committed suicide and when their bassist Varg Vikernes aka. Count Grishnackh murdered their guitar player ystein Aarseth aka. Euronymus. Euronymus is considered as the mastermind of both Mayhem and the entire Black Metal genre, as other Norwegian Black Metal bands would only play music considered "good" by ystein... and burn churches... "Grand Declaration Of War" is Mayhem's second album, written by guitarist Rune Eriksen (Blasphemer), bassist Jrn Stubberud (Necrobutcher), drummer Jan Axel Blomberg (Hellhamer) and vocalist Sven Erik Kristiansen (Maniac). It was recorded in 2000 and is a very well produced album (surprising for a Black Metal album!). This album is also very experimental, with a spoken track ("A Bloodwsord And A Colder Sun" (Part I of II)), and an electronic track ("A Bloodwsord And A Colder Sun" (Part II of II)). "Grand Declaration Of War" also contains 2 weird tracks ("To Daimonion" Part 2/3) who are silent tracks. A few spoken words, and then 5 minutes of silence! But of course, this album also has some very good Black Metal songs!
Lyrics — 8
I never really connected with Black Metal lyrics, as most of them (EXCLUDING other subgenres, I'm sticking with "True" Black Metal) are Satanic (and I am an atheist). BUT, this album contains some interesting lyrics, such as "In The Lies Where Upon You Lay" or "Completion In Science Of Agony" (Pt. I Of II). The vocals are really diverse in this album. Maniac goes from high-pitched shrieks to whispering and, well, normal singing on some tracks. Some lyrics are spoken as normally as it is possible, as for example, "To Daimonion" (Part II of III). In "Crystalized Pain In Deconstruction", he does something that I could almost consider as rapping, if you can believe it.
Overall Impression — 8
If you want to get into Mayhem's music, you may want to start with their other albums "De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas", "Chimera" or "Ordo Ad Chao", because this album is very different from the others. It is much more diverse and experimental, though I could recommend the first three songs. My favorite song of the album is "Completion In Science Of Agony" (Part I of II), because it sounds dark and melancholic, some parts of this song could almost get on a Black Sabbath record (maybe from the start to 2:40). The rest is a mix of this and ear-screeching Black Metal. I do not have this album in my possession, but I will eventually (read: in a week or so) order this album online. A friend of mine lent me his copy so I could give it a few listens (and put in in my computer). But of course, if I had it and it was stolen, I would beat the shit out of the stealer and retrieve it or order it again. A very different but solid album by a cult band.