Thursday, January 18, 2007

Album Review: Satyricon - “Now Diabolical”

I grew up in the 90's, where grunge and nu-metal reigned in popularity over underground music. I remember reading lots of guitar magazine articles where certain artists from said genres essentially gave out rules and guidelines on how to play, saying such things as “Whatever you do, don’t play a guitar solo unless the song absolutely, totally calls for it.”. Many of these artists viewed keeping things simple as an instant route to creativity, when instead they really ended up simply dumbing down the music to keep it all the same.

Now we live in a new decade, and many artists have gone completely in the opposite direction as an anti-thesis to the previous decade, and yet there are still artists who can ACTUALLY keep things simple and creative. I think in the world of extreme music, we’re fortunate enough to have a great many artists and bands who don’t feel the need to play every set standard of rules.

Satyricon takes the ideology of keeping it simple right from their direct influence, the great classic Celtic Frost, and actually looks back even further in time for some other influences to merge it with black metal. While the good old black metal standbys like the cold evil guitar tone and high raspy vocals are present, Satyricon doesn’t attempt to mire the music down with a wall of blast beats or tremolo picked chords, like so many of their “extreme” brethren have done. Instead, Satyricon chooses to create an ominous atmosphere with some of their slower songs, and truly shines when they drive the message home with a mid-paced march. Witness the clean guitar portions for “Delirium” that could be a black metal surf rock song, while “Now, Diabolical” and “K.I.N.G.” are catchy black metal rock n’ rollers. With the song “K.I.N.G.” being the shortest song of the album at 3 minutes, and it’s ease of availability on the internet, it’s almost the black metal equivalent of a single.

“Now, Diabolical” isn’t without its faults. The production doesn’t seem to add much heft or power to the instruments, taking it’s toll especially on the slightly weak sounding drums, and practically non-existent bass, and having so many slow to mid-paced songs can also be very plodding at times.

All factors taken into account, Satyricon is one of the very few old-school black metal bands from the second wave (late 80's/early 90's) who is not only still intact, still playing black metal, and having its members alive and free from the clutches of prison, and able to push the genre forward without having to add keyboards.


Satyricon At MySpace
Satyricon At Century Media (Link currently not working)
Satyricon At Roadrunner Records Austrailia


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