Satyricon: Satyricon

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Satyricon: Satyricon
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Satyricon: Satyricon
Black Metal
Nuclear Blast Records
September 17th, 2013
Release length: 51:27
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It’s been a while since we heard from the guys in Satyricon. The last recording to be released was 2008’s The Age of Nero, which was met with a wide reception of praise and hate. Well, the duo return to continue their breed of Rock ‘n Roll laced Black Metal with their self-titled eighth full-length effort. With more going on in the background, it has been called into question whether the band’s interest in writing more music is waning, and the long amount of time between new material may very well be proof of such an occurrence. But, with a five year gap and plenty of positive and scathingly negative reviews floating around, many of which clearly from a biased opinion, one can only wonder how Satyricon actually sounds?

Satyricon are no strangers to empty audio as of late, but this one seems to have a stronger production quality to it. “Voice of Shadows” kicks things off with a simple echoed drum kick and an altered “When the Saints Go Marching In” rhythm that lasts a good two and a half minutes despite the drumming picking up speed. It’s a foreboding sign, and one that actually starts to get really irritating by the one minute mark. “Tro og Kraft” introduces the slower pace of the album, and the tighter drum performance, especially the thud of the bass kicks, does often make the music a bit thicker. The leads throw back a bit to “Voice of Shadows” at times, something that shows up in various tracks through out the album, but lend a surprisingly cold touch to this song from start to finish, and the brief slower Jazz-like passage about three and a half minutes in works well with that hint of frost, and even lending a brief childlike innocence to the mix, albeit a twisted one.

It doesn’t take long before Satyricon does start to sound a bit repetitive in the lead chords, as “Nocturnal Flare” shares the same introductory riff at the start, and other times as well. The somewhat faster performance and more enthusiastic vocals, however, throw this song back to the days of Volcano, and the added distant and haunting vocal harmonizations in the background from the keyboards do help maintain the frostbitten atmosphere, and even give it a haunting touch at times. The laid back quality of Satyricon is still on display, but the addictive riffs make it pretty hard to not at least bob your head along when they have some additional edge to them. The same goes with “Nekrohaven,” a very drum heavy track that creates a rhythm that is hard to ignore, and some solid hooks in the chorus that are complimented by altered vocals.

There are some tracks that are dramatically different. “Phoenix” is perhaps the most unique of them all, and that’s due to the use of clean singing. The slightly deeper approach comes off like what one might expect from a Spanish serenade, even reflected by the main verses. The chorus takes on a hint of an early Folk Rock vibe with a little more enthusiasm in the singing that is simply soothing all around, even the backing near-growling vocals, a stark contrast to the next track, “Walker Upon the Wind.” The music is a lot faster and tighter here, showing a little complexity to the drumming in certain bridges, as well as in the abrupt start. This song casts off the Rock ‘n Roll element entirely, and presents a solid slab of catchy Black Metal that fans of the genre should have little to no problem with, even when the pace slows down about three minutes in. “The Infinity of Time and Space,” however, is actually a bit erratic and empty. There’s no real direction to it most of the time, the drumming is rough to get into in many spot, and all around it just comes off rather boring. Sadly, this is also the longest performance on the album, and does feel like an eternity compared to the other extensive cuts that often seem shorter than they really are.

Satyricon isn’t going to win over any new fans, nor is it going to pick up any they lost after the shift in music at the turn of the century. It is, however, an interesting change of pace, and by that I mean it uses everything in their recent arsenal and more. This album takes liberties from everything dating back to Volcano, and, with a few exceptions, handles it all with catchy music and a very laid back attitude, making this more of a Black Metal grab bag to relax to. From serenades to frostbitten atmospheres and truly blackened assaults, Satyricon string together ten tracks that seem more like a loose concept based around a few ideas that crop up throughout the album, sometimes to the point of repetition. For some devoted fans, it might be a bitter pill to swallow, but when you sit back and just take it all in, this is a surprisingly well done album with a good number of tracks that may not be genuinely memorable, nor really have you leaving this album on repeat past the second or third time through. But, what is present is a collection of songs that are still pretty damn infectious and easy to get into if you just want to throw something nondescript on in order to unwind.

01. Voice of Shadows – 2:36
02. Tro og Kraft – 6:01
03. Our World It Rumbles Tonight – 5:13
04. Nocturnal Flare – 6:38
05. Phoenix – 6:32
06. Waker Upon the Wind – 4:58
07. Nekrohaven – 3:18
09. Ageless Northern Spirit – 4:44
09. The Infinity of Time and Space – 7:48
10. Natt – 3:44
Initial Pressing Score: 7/10

Satyricon
Satyricon

Digital review copy of this release provided by Nuclear Blast Records.