Crime Records

Monday, September 9, 2013

Album review: Satyricon - Satyricon

For sure there is no need to introduce the one and only, legendary Satyricon, a black metal union of vocalist/writer Satyr and drummer Frost who has greatly influenced the whole black metal scene, notably with their old stuff from the 90s. Also, most of you, who have been following the band at least a bit are aware that they somehow became a subject of controversy because of the direction their newer albums go - much to the dismay of those who wait for another Nemesis Divina. The band’s music since 2002’s Volcano has a great rock feel, quite different from the old stuff and it’s 8th, self titled studio album is another step in that way.

So how’s the album? Very good. Why? Well, Satyr somewhere stated that it is gonna be full of surprises and I’d say that it’s not far from truth - Satyricon did a great job varying the album.
It offers a bit of everything, from black mayhems, passing by melodic stuff, to almost purely rock songs and oscillating from brutal anger to melancholic sadness. It remains Satyricon, but sounds somehow more thought-out.
The first 4 tracks sound somehow nocturnal - they are quite atmospheric and give mixed impressions of melancholy and even fatality (plus the norwegian in “Tro og Kraft” sounds beautiful), which is largely given by their melodiousness, but they are rather furious at the same time. Then comes something that was a big surprise for me *SPOILER WARNING*
which is Satyr’s clean singing. Yes. In a pure rock ballad. “Phoenix”. Catchy though. And he has a very appropriate voice for this. I’m not goning to say more, see (hear) for yourself *END OF SPOILER* In fact, the whole middle section of the album is an alteration of the above mentioned mayhems and rock stuff. “Walker Upon the Wind” and “Ageless Northern Spirit” are quite moshing, angry blast beat driven songs, that are divided by an incredibly (at least in my case) catchy “Nekrohaven”, which made me listen to it twice every time I listened through the album - but not because it is better than the other songs. It's just strong in it's simplicity. The end of the album (read last 2 songs) is another page of the book. The songs (“The Infinity Of Time And Space” and the instrumental outro “Natt”) are on the more melodic side again and have a feel similar to these at the beginning.

The sound is quite similar to that of the other newer albums - dry, clean, heavy but at the same time, kind of minimalistic, like if it was a perfectly sealed puzzle. It leaves place for occasional subtle symphonic elements - we can hear some brass instruments here and there as well as some additional voices etc; but it never sounds like symphonic metal. The music values guitar riffs and - not sure if it isn’t a bit because of Frost’s aura of an epic drummer but - the drum work is pretty satisfying.
Talking about puzzle, the same applies to the composition of the songs - everything feels that it is in it’s place. Generally, an album’s diversity, in some cases, can lead to inconsistency, but this is not the case. More attentive listeners can notice occasionally similar motives and chord progressions emerging across the album. The diversity is furthermore enhanced by frequent dynamic and tempo contrasts.

Conclusion: you may have noticed that I pretty much like the new Satyricon. If you don’t, avoid this one. However, if you do (or are untouched by the whole thing), then give it a go and chances are that it will grow on you after few listens.

Rating: 8 out of 10