Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Satyricon – Satyricon

As much as I love all the good new metal bands that come along every day, there is just something about the veteran bands.  It's great to see them live, watch them perform, work the crowd, and just do their thing.  They are relaxed and yet they kick absolute ass.  The know what they are doing and they bring it in a way that the new bands just don't.  Hearing their recorded work is awesome too.  There is a level of confidence and professionalism that new bands just don't have.  All of this is definitely true of the new release from Satyricon.

This is an amazing album and probably the first one I've heard all year that made me start thinking of where I would rank it in my annual top 10.  Honestly, for me, there haven't been that many metal releases that made me sit up and take notice this year.  Until now.

One of the cool things about this album, and you will notice it right away, is that it was all recorded on analog equipment.  It doesn't have that production quality that sounds like it was recorded on a boom box in the middle of a parking garage.  The production is clear without sounding too glossy, too produced.  All of the instruments and vocals sit well in the mix and everything is distinct and clear.  They didn't even use an effects pedals on the guitars.  You might even question whether you could call this black metal.  There aren't a lot of blast beats, not much tremolo picking, you can understand the lyrics.  But if you are going to quibble with this, or set it aside because of what I mentioned above, you really need to open your mind to what metal can be.

The album opens with an instrumental, starting with a simple, thudding drum beat.  The beat sounds like a warning, it sounds like something massive is heading your way.  There is a vaguely Middle Eastern flavor to the riff, which just keeps growing, like the ancient Sumerians unleashed their gods and now we must pay.  A real eye opener of a track comes about halfway through with “Phoenix”.  It is a song with clean vocals written especially for guest vocalist Sivert Hoyem of Norwegian act Madrugada.  And the tune totally kicks ass and works on this album.  “Ageless Northern Spirit” and “The Infinity Of Time And Space” are also standout tunes.

One other thing I noticed about the album, and I don't know if it was done purposefully or not, but it seemed to be divided in halves, like the good old days of vinyl.  The first 5 tracks are more brooding and atmospheric, and the last 5 kick the tempos up a notch and really let it rip.  Whether it was an accident or not, its a bit of genius in the sequencing, and another thing that adds to the overall quality of this album.

Many times, when bands get far into their career and put out the self titled album, it can be a signal that they have run their course.  Definitely not so with this one.  Satyricon sound as if they are ready to kick a whole new stage of their career into high gear.  This one will be in my year end top 10 list.  You'll just have to stay tuned for a few more months to find out exactly where. 


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