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)

Video of the Day: The Hidden Gem in KEEP OF KALESSIN’s Back Catalogue

Tried and true underground metal warriors are all familiar with Norway’s KEEP OF KALESSIN. No doubt they’re a worthy band with good records. However, one of their releases, the rare Reclaim EP, is something that may have eluded the access of many. If you can find this hard to find release, I suggest you snatch it up immediately.

Band mainman/guitarist, Obsidian C., recruited black metal legends, Attila Csihar (vocals) and Frost (drums), for this glorious undertaking. What resulted is one of the coolest pieces of black metal in an easy to enjoy EP format.

Check out this track and then prove me wrong:

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1349 – Demonoir

1349 is a band that has flown under the radar for years now, despite having one of the most skilled drummers in the world – Frost of SATYRICON fame. Even their Norwegian brethren KEEP OF KALESSIN have grown more popular than these blast masters. While 1349 turned off a large percentage of their fan base with the experimental Revelations of the Black Flame album, Demonoir returns to proper form with unrelenting, ugly black metal, the way it’s supposed to be.

As with Revelations of the Black Flame, Demonoir features ambient tracks, but the ambient passages on this album should be looked at as completely separate “music” from the actual songs. This works to 1349’s advantage as the flip flop of ambient tracks and regular songs breaks up the speed and intense battery of Frost’s hellfire to avoid the monotonous blast formula as evidenced on some MARDUK releases. Demonoir consists of seven ambient parts which alone make up an amazing horror soundtrack, as well as the six actual songs to assault the ears with.

Atomic Chapel” starts the chaos with blazing double bass and blasts reminiscent of Hellfire with SATYRICON riffs thrown in. The intense non-stop blast fest of “When I Was Flesh” pushes speed and beats per minute (bpm) to the limit before peaking with “Psalm 7:77,” which incorporates a thrashy main riff, insane drum fills, and can be best described as “controlled chaos.”

Hints of Beyond the Apocalypse and Hellfire can be found in “Pandemonium War Bells,” but these riffs still sound fresh and Frost’s use of the high hat and ride cymbals are best heard when listened to at maximum volume. “The Devil of the Deserts” shows where SATYRICON would be if they continued with the style of writing as witnessed on Nemesis Divina – great riffs, balanced with the brutal machine gun blastbeat attack is definitely not for the faint of heart. Although the piano piece is oddly placed at the end of the track, it creates an atmosphere fitting to lead into the last track, “Demonoir.” The final opus slows down the pace, and takes the approach of latter SATYRICON-era riffs – the simplistic yet heavy riffing that would make even Satyr jealous.

Demonoir can be characterized as the typical fast Norwegian black metal album, but 1349 is still underrated and underappreciated in the extreme metal circuit. As always, the best part of 1349’s albums is the fury that Frost unleashes, and unlike being told what drum beats to play, like for the OV HELL project, he doesn’t hold back this time around. Demonoir is uncompromising, raw, with no pretty melodies, and anyone opposed to that style should stay clear of this brilliant piece of work. (Prosthetic Records)

CHTHONIC, SATYRICON @ The Key Club, Hollywood (10/8/09)

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Anticipation for this show was high as kids started waiting outside the Key Club as early as 5pm. Taiwanese extreme metallers CHTHONIC opened the show with a short but powerful set. It was clear from the audience reaction that a significant amount of people were there to see the band play. CHTHONIC had great stage presence and played well. Vocalist Freddy made sure that the audience knew that they were proud to be from Taiwan. The band also took the time to meet with fans after their performance. There was a good number of fans who waited patiently for their chance to get their pictures taken with CHTHONIC and get their merchandise autographed. It was surprising that after the band had finished up their meet and greet, a noticeable number of attendees left the Key Club.

As the night wore on, incoming fans packed the Key Club in order to see headliners SATYRICON. The band played songs predominantly from their last three albums with a few old ones from their classic, Nemesis Divina. The fact their SATYRICON‘s newer material is mid-paced and has many slow plotting sections caused numerous moments of stagnation in the adrenaline department. It may have left some fans wanting a more balanced set in terms of tempo.

Band mastermind Satyr was pretty vocal with the crowd and never failed to show his appreciation for the fans throughout their set. He too was proud to represent the country that the band were from. Satyr also busted out his guitar for a few songs as well. Strangely enough, his guitar was louder and better sounding than that of his two session guitarists.

The star of the show was drummer Frost. After all my years of going to shows, Frost‘s performance was by far the best drum performance that I’ve ever seen. It was truly godlike. He blasted faster than even Flo from CRYPTOPSY, and his blastbeats were super tight and clean. You could see his hair flying through the air as he did the helicopter headbang all night. The drums sounded absolutely immaculate in quality. He played flawlessly and if anything, he made the songs sound better live. Frost also rewrote his drum parts for the older songs by adding plenty of extra intensity and skill.

SATYRICON’s New Album Cover, Tracklisting Revealed

SATYRICON‘s forthcoming new album, The Age of Nero, is approaching release.  The album was recorded at Sound City in Los Angeles back in May with producer Joe Barresi (TOOL, QUEENS OF THE STONE AGE).  Below is an image of the album’s cover:

The Age of Nero, which will receive a November 3rd release date in Europe via Roadrunner Records, will contain the following songs:

1. “Commando
2. “The Wolfpack
3. “Black Crow on a Tombstone
4. “Die by My Hand
5. “My Skin is Cold” (album version)
6. “The Sign of the Trident
7. “Last Man Standing
8. “Den Siste

SATYRICON have also posted the first in a series of videos from the recording session.  Check out the band’s website for the video of drummer Frost tracking his parts.

SATYRICON Working on New Album; Plotting U.S. Tour

SATYRICON have issued a brief update on the band’s musical activity and plans for a Spring U.S. tour:

“We have so much news for you on the new album in writing and many stories to tell from our visits to Australia and Japan. We’ll fill you in on that later. Finally the necesarry permits and paperwork have been sorted on [drummer] Frost‘s behalf and we are now ready to come over to America again. Seems like it will be a small run of three weeks starting with a few days in South America for the first time before we come over the U.S. This will most likely take place between mid-April and second week of May. We’ll keep you posted of course.”

Frost was unable to participate in SATYRICON‘s previous two U.S. tours due to being denied permits to enter the country.  SLIPKNOT drummer Joey Jordison and ZYKLON/EMPEROR drummer Trym stepped in to fill in on drums so that the band could fulfill their performance obligations.

GORGOROTH – Ad Majorem Sathanas Gloriam

It’s been three tumultuous years since GORGOROTH’s last album, and while line-up changes, label changes, and various altercations with the law have been known to break lesser bands, these setbacks seem to only fuel the misanthropic rage found on GORGOROTH‘s seventh offering, Ad Majorem Sathanas Gloriam. “Wound upon Wound” begins the audio assault with furious intensity. And the band maintains a relentless pace throughout most of the album with the ominous “Sign of an Open Eye” providing the only respite from the band’s pummeling barrage. “White Seed” quickly administers another punishing beating before arriving at a driving, droning yet altogether fiercely atmospheric riff that epitomizes the spirit of the album. The song then blasts off like a storm once again. The man responsible for all of this over-the-top percussive chaos? None other than longtime cohort/conspirator Frost of SATYRICON, 1349 and GEHENNA-fame. He has lent his considerable talents to Ad Majorem behind the kit, truly stepping up the intensity level on all fronts. So forget all the hype, infamy and controversy, Ad Majorem Sathanas Gloriam is a devastating aural onslaught from one of the few remaining true Norwegian black metal bands. (Candlelight Records)