Satyricon recently reissued their best album, Nemesis Divina, remastered by Satyr himself. Satyr, true to his reputation, botched it.
The metal musician turned winemaker Sigurd Wongraven reported a brain tumor yesterday. While the tumor is currently benign, it has already caused him some health complications and may continue to do so, even if it doesn’t turn carcinogenic on him. The news was originally posted on his Instagram page and has triggered an outburst of sympathy from Satyricon fans throughout the world.
Satyricon earned some fame in the early-mid 1990s for their enthusiastic (if fairly disorganized) folk black metal sound. After some experiments with ambient music and guest performances with various other musicians in the Norwegian black metal scene, they eventually transitioned towards a more rock oriented style of music. Wongraven also ran Moonfog Productions, which besides releasing Satyricon’s albums also provided an outlet for many of Fenriz’s projects, including Neptune Towers, Isengard, and later Darkthrone.
When the label is clamoring for something new, does the band bow down and fulfill the request, or do they uphold standards? Black metal in particular has struggled with these questions for over a decade, with a myriad of responses. Some have chosen to retreat completely, seeking refuge in the wild.
Some have become exasperated with the genre, turning to electronic music before returning in glory. Others have waged war on modernity, risking well-being in pursuit of these goals. However, the greatest number have bowed to the wishes of the crowd and released a product that was quickly forgotten, which is where Satyricon’s self-titled album falls.
Embodying all that is lazy and lethargic, Satyricon is an excellent example of modern black metal ethos. Black metal only on the surface, the album is musically a hard rock/heavy metal album designed for max promotional appeal. Simple riffs with obvious sequencing, simple implementation, and solid production produce a well-shaped package that undoubtedly will allow the band to increase its commercial influence.
Sounding like a tribute to Fallen-era Burzum‘s minor-chord noodling but lacking even what little sense of spirit that album possessed, the band chucks in references to pop and blues cliches as if the label funded a study aimed at producing the most cookie-cutter album conceivable, then shared the results to the band…and let’s not delve into the collaboration with Sivert Høyem.
There is nothing here for readers of this site to enjoy, except for the more morbid members among us. This album goes nowhere. It has nothing to impart. And perhaps most damning, it’s not even terrible. It is simply a non-entity.
The Death Metal Underground staff subjects themselves to countless nights of toilet diving in order to bring you gems crapped out by the dessicated undead corpse of the music industry. These are what we left in the latrine.
This band has been around for two decades. I recently found out about them and recommend the album Ruined from 2014.
If you would enjoy a fusion of Cynic and Satyricon, you should enjoy this. Some of the tracks are less effective than others because the band is experimenting with different song arrangements and techniques. The core of this band is killer chord progressions which are very melodic and form a basis for adding riffs to a song without randomness. The bass guitar playing is most excellent throughout. The vocals are simply effective in context with nice rhythmic placement but fairly generic texture. I give Ruined an A-. I had to deduct a point because there was one track I disliked, “Prey.”
- “Not Competent”: Drummer has some unusual time signatures like early Cynic. This is a great mix on this recording. I like how you can hear the bass guitar. The feel of the double kick drums lacks a bit of groove. There is a great amount of variety in the guitar parts and some nice melodies. The leads early on sound like a Satriani jam slowed down or something. The vocals don’t add much to the recording, but they do not harm it either. And he does a great job of singing in the right spots and not over-doing it. It’s a bit mellow and understated for a black death band, and that actually makes it more relaxing and pleasant to listen to. The riff changes are pretty smooth. However, they lead to surprising places. And the songs suck you in and then end before you are ready for them to. Which keeps me listening to the next track.
- “Redacted”: Here’s more of a tight blast beat type intro with a mellow Killing Joke styled guitar riff over it. Now we finally start hearing some thrash and it rules, but then we get stuck in some doom mire before thrashing again. Around the three minute mark we start to get into some utterly awesome late 80s thrash guitar riffage, but with death metal highs. Then a sudden surprising uptick into a blast-beat outro.
- “Ruined”: An alternate time-signature intro which doesn’t seem to fit in well. Followed by A Perfect Circle Type Riff and then back to the intro again, and then soloing. Not so sure about this tune. Skip.
- “Prey”: A mysterious sounding intro riff which is very enticing. Followed by a double kick groove with a really unusually beautiful sounding chord progression with some nice bass touches also. This song has a very nice riff progression overall and it takes you deeper and deeper into its reality.
- “Wasting Games”: Horror film score-like catchy grinding intro riff rules. Killer slow groovy, heavy riff with some Danzig styled vocals. Nice! Followed by a blast beat. WTF?! This is F’ing weird progression and it conquers. This song should have been like first on the album ha. More hard rock, but different riff (plus blues solo) after that. Oh yeah mama!
- “Orthodoxy”: Grainy whiskey inducing into. Starts to get kind of apocalyptic with a dreary tempo. This song is kinda chill. It’s smooth with a charcoal flavor and its on the rocks. Not sure about going straight into the blast though after that. Oh well. Its a cool riff though at least. Picks up into insane blasting and jazzy chords. Thinking this track would have been better split into two separate shorter tracks. I dig them individually, except for the 6/8 time riff because I hate A Perfect Circle and stuff like that. But that’s over quick and we get a radical sounding simple riff which triumphs. This song is very interesting overall.
- “Downturn”: This song starts with a Gothic sounding blasted riff which is neat. The second riff has a Swedish death metal beat and it rules. I am now wishing they had used that beat way more on the recording because it rules. Around the 1:25 mark there is an extremely nice epic black metal riff which is simply unusually Gothic and melodic sounding. Nicely done. I am confused to why they ruin that mood by putting the technical jazzy stuff afterwards. But then back into black metal riff with Swedish beat again, and at that moment I am loving it.
Article by Johan P.
This text is a continuation of the previously published article, The Difficulties of Folk Metal. As stated in Part I, the threefold aim of this multi-part article is, in rough terms, to: 1. Give a short introduction to the subject, 2. Point out some of the difficulties connected with integrating folk music into metal and finally, 3. Provide alternative methods of integration. Part II will be dedicated to the second part of this quest.
Naturally, there are limits regarding the scope of my endeavor – the most obvious demarcation being that the article primarily focuses on Swedish folk music. In my view, the critique of folk metal is an ongoing project, and this article should not be seen as an exhaustive treatment of the subject at hand.
So, if someone else out there finds the subject interesting, you are more than welcome to make contributions. It could be in the form of additional material (metal or folk related) and complementary ideas to enhance the project. For example, the depth and applicability of the arguments presented below would surely benefit if the scope could be expanded to include other forms of traditional music.