Satyricon
Satyricon

The self-titled album. A tradition as old as almost metal itself. There are several reasons for the eponymous album title. An introduction, by which the band simply says “We are Iron Maiden. We are Black Sabbath. We are Bathory. And this is our sound.” Or a re-introduction, where the band has undergone some significant change, be it a more mainstream approach, like Metallica – or the replacement of a longtime frontman, like Queensryche. And then there is the reaffirmation. A direct statement of intent and identity, meant to evoke permanence and longevity and the timelessness of the band’s vision.

I suppose this last reason is why Satyricon chose Satyricon for their eighth full length. The band has undergone several re-inventions in the past, but it’s been a long time since they’ve offered any real surprises, not at least since the black n’ roll attack of “Fuel for Hatred” on Volcano in 2002, or the grimy post-black metal of Rebel Extravaganza in 1999. So if Satyricon is affirming the Satyricon sound here, then it’s this: mid-paced, lumbering and atmospheric post-black metal, with blastbeats played at half-time and throat-scarred, gravelly vocals. It’s the same sound of Volcano and The Age of Nero and Now, Diabolical, but it’s been given a warmer and more weathered tone. More pensive and less savage, slower and more nuanced. And to these ears, a far cry from the band that once captured my imagination with alien Norse rage and mystery on albums like Dark Medieval Times, Nemesis Divina or my favorite, The Shadowthrone.

If you enjoyed the slower, more mysterious moments of those albums, then you’ll still enjoy doomy, wandering tracks on Satyricon like “The Infinity of Time and Space,” the dirge-like closer “Natt” or the psychedelic, 70s-inspired midsection of “Nocturnal Flare.” However, with the exception of two tracks – which I’ll get to in a bit – this is another slowed-down, dragged-out Satyricon album. “Trog Og Kraft” and “Ageless Northern Spirit“ lope along at the same bludgeoning pace, and while “Our World, It Rumbles Tonight” does just that, “Nekrohaven“ manages a bit more swagger (also, gang vocals). It’s the same experience as the last few albums. I dig the general sound – Satyr’s scraping vocals against pounding percussion and blunt, axe-wound guitar riffs – but the songs don’t offer near enough variety or excitement.

Yet then, in the middle of the album, two out-of-nowhere surprises. “Phoenix,” likely to be the most controversial cut on Satyricon, is also far and away the best thing here: a clean-crooned ballad closer to Nick Cave or Roy Orbison or The National than anything you’d expect from a long-time black metal act. Had Satyricon come out with an entire album like this, it would have furrowed eyebrows and deepened frowns all over the metal world. It might also have been brilliant.

And right afterwards, an explosion from the opposite end of the musical spectrum. “Walker on the Wind” is one of the fastest tracks this band has done in a decade, rippling with punk-black riffs and thundering drums. It too settles into a malevolent groove before long, but the slowdown is well-earned because of the contrast – and it’s that contrast that is missing from the rest of Satyricon. Had the album opened with this attack rather than the sludgy “Trog Og Kraft” (seriously, I defy you not to think of “When the Saints Come Marching In” when you hear that one), it might have worked as both reaffirmation and reintroduction.

As it is, Satyricon offers a few long-awaited and welcome new tricks – the warmer, psychedelic touches throughout and those startling, seductive clean vocals on “Phoenix” – but otherwise, it’s not quite the bold statement that we’ve been waiting for.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Jordan Itkowitz
September 30th, 2013

Comments

  1. Commented by: Lance Bogen

    “We are Iron Maiden. We are Black Sabbath. We are Bathory. How dare you, sir?!

    Also, I didn’t think Rebel Extravaganza was post-bm in any way. It was their last “trve” offering I thought. Am I wrong? Am I wrong??


  2. Commented by: gabaghoul

    don’t get your panties in a bvnch


  3. Commented by: Here's Johnny

    i will do a simpler review of this album…it plain sucks! this band is finished creatively.


Leave a Reply

Privacy notice: When you submit a comment, your creditentials, message and IP address will be logged. A cookie will also be created on your browser with your chosen name and email, so that you do not need to type them again to post a new comment. Your post and details will also go through an automatic spam check via Akismet's servers and maybe held up for further approval. We purge our logs from your meta-data at frequent intervals.

  • Suicide Silence - Become the Hunter
  • Annihilator - Ballistic, Sadistic
  • Hell:On/Pripjat - A Glimpse Beyond (Split)
  • Silvertomb - Edge of Existence
  • Necropanther - The Doomed City
  • Lorna Shore - Immortal
  • Ian Blurton Future Now - Signals Through the Flames
  • Voice of Ruin - Acheron
  • Inverted Matter - Detach
  • Marrasmieli - Between Land and Sky
  • Infirmity - Descendants of Sodom
  • Cryptic Brood - Outcome of Obnoxious Science
  • Visceral Disgorge - Slithering Evisceration
  • Psychomancer - Shards of the Hourglass
  • Infidel Reich - Reichenstein