SATYRICON – Satyricon

Satyricon - SatyriconFive years of touring and recuperation have yielded a superior record than SATYRICON‘s 2008 release, Age of Nero.  In the spirit of progress, SATYRICON explores new territory with their new self titled record.

The first half of Satyricon may catch many by surprise with its decidedly subdued, sublime style. A stripped down, straight forward feel comes with the mostly single string riffs. The band also employs plenty of their distinctive melodies.  For lack of a better word, one could describe this as SATYRICON at their “doomiest,” especially opening track “Voice of the Shadows,” which sounds like a ceremonial exhumation of a pharaoh’s tomb.

A gem in the band’s catalogue is “Phoenix,” featuring vocals by Sivert Høyem of Norway’s MADRUGADA.  It’s not just the first SATYRICON song to exclusively have clean vocals but it’s downright good.  It’s gloriously powerful and ranks as one of the band’s best songs.

Side A is not about traditional metal notions of heaviness or aggression. The silence and quietness of it all creates a thick, heavy atmosphere.  This is a new side to the band and some may find it off-putting.

Side B sees some of that SATYRICON speed and aggression but on average, it does not get faster than Diabolical, Now or Age of Nero tempos.  “Walker Upon the Wind” and “Ageless Northern Spirit” feature that good old, biting aggression of latter day SATYRICON. “Nekrohaven“‘s hooks catchy in a punk/post-punk way.

Without a doubt, “The Infinity of Time and Space” is the centerpiece of  Satyricon.  The classic sound of the first three records meets the sound of the last few albums in quite a soulful journey.  The song perfectly captures the essence of the band – that strong will and the inexorable Norwegian black metal spirit.  Closing track, “Natt” (“night” in Norwegian), brings it all back to folk era of the band and serves as a great closing instrumental.  Listen carefully for the whispers.

While many extreme metal bands are looking to push the envelopes of sonic brutality and heaviness, SATYRICON use the power of silence and piano sections (the music technique, not the instrument) to convey heavy atmospheres.  While Satyricon may not rank as the band’s best work, it is certainly a very interesting, stimulating and commendable one on several levels.  The vision and artistry cannot be denied.  Bravo.  (Nuclear Blast Records)

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