Next review: » Satyricon - Now, Diabolical
Released: 2006, Century Media Records
Reviewer: Lord of the Wasteland
The review of Satyricon’s new CD, NOW, DIABOLICAL, could be summed up in one sentence: “Fans of VOLCANO rejoice; fans of DARK MEDIEVAL TIMES, there’s the door,” but allow me to elaborate...
A dozen years into their career, the pioneers of Norwegian black metal continue to evolve and move away from the limitations imposed by the genre’s elite. In truth, most of the fans of early works like DARK MEDIEVAL TIMES and THE SHADOWTHRONE have long moved on to darker pastures and the few stragglers that remained after the introduction of electronic music on 1999’s REBEL EXTRAVAGANZA were lost on the bare bones approach of 2002’s VOLCANO. That album serves as a blueprint for the material on NOW, DIABOLICAL as the mid-paced “black & roll” groove runs rampant, making the two almost companion pieces. Frost’s drumming is reigned in and the blastbeats are sparingly used, opting instead for a driving tempo that owes more to groove than speed. Satyr’s snarling rasp is here in all its glory and the guitars fall into a simplistic, riff-fuelled pattern that can be both intoxicating and frustrating at the same time. Production-wise, Satyr has given the album a raw yet polished sound with the guitars way up front but the bottom end is somewhat lacking and the drums possess a notably soft hissing, especially the snare, that takes away some of the power that could have taken NOW, DIABOLICAL to the next level. Overall, NOW, DIABOLICAL will continue to divide fans of the band (aren’t Satyricon shaping up to be the In Flames of black metal??) as those hooked by “Fuel For Hatred” will revel in the heavy, crunching groove of many of the tracks while those looking for the return of the flutes and folk guitar parts of DARK MEDIEVAL TIMES need look elsewhere.
The title track roars out of the gates with a mid-tempo, almost tribal rhythm set by Frost before things pick up into a heavy, crunching groove. Satyr’s vocals are very clear and his sinister sneer and tortured shrieks are perfect. “K.I.N.G.” possesses an equally hypnotic rhythm and the overall feel of the song gives it a real rock edge. The riffs are simplistic, the beats straightforward and the chorus features an incredibly catchy melody. Sound familiar? Well, “K.I.N.G.” is pretty similar in style to “Fuel For Hatred” from VOLCANO, so detractors may take issue with the fact Satyricon is aping its most commercially successful song here but what it all boils down to is that both tracks are easily-accessible and melodic—nothing more. “The Pentagram Burns” keeps things on a similar note but at this point, the mid-paced tempo of the music becomes frustratingly identical. In truth, the first three tracks are almost interchangeable with one another and almost segue into each other without notice. The similarities are striking and for a band as dynamic as Satyricon, it is a bit of a letdown that they aren’t mixing things up a bit. The first real hint of something different doesn’t come until the fifth track, “The Rite of Our Cross,” and what a difference it is. This track snakes between a slow, brooding intro to a ripping middle section and the marching war cries that conclude things. Frost wakes up and unleashes a torrent of blastbeats through an epic, majestic soundscape peppered with booming horns and Satyr relishing in spitting out lyrics like “Now gather the Earth, it’s the coming of the Dark Lord/All tribes unite, This is the rite of our cross.” Satyr mixes things up and uses a hushed, spoken word delivery on “That Darkness Shall Be Eternal” and the brooding, seething “Delerium” features a muted riff that shows a new level of evil within the band. These two tracks, along with the cold, epic harshness of “To The Mountains,” are proof that the band still has a few fresh ideas up its studded sleeves. “Storm of The Destroyer,” a bonus track on the North American release, is perhaps the best song on the album. Fast, vicious and unrelenting in its old school black metal attack, fans who thought Satyricon could no longer play as they did in their youth will be blown away by what they hear.
NOW, DIABOLICAL shows Satyricon getting comfortable in its skin. The transition from black metal powerhouse to crossover artist (but still black metal at its grassroots) has been a gradual process and where VOLCANO seemed like an awkward growth period, this album sees Satyricon settling into things like a pair of comfortable shoes. Satyr and Frost have long since given up on criticisms of their current direction and anyone crying “sell-out” needs their head examined (as catchy as a track like “K.I.N.G.” is, it won’t be topping the radio charts or have them headlining arenas anytime soon). NOW, DIABOLICAL is an accessible heavy metal record with its roots still planted in the blackened ground but with stepped-up (though still lacking) production and a clear visual of where they want to go next, Satyricon is well on its way to the next level of immortality and success.
KILLER KUTS: “Now, Diabolical,” “K.I.N.G.,” “The Pentagram Burns,” “The Rite of Our Cross,” “To The Mountains,” “Storm of The Destroyer”
1. Now, Diabolical
3. The Pentagram Burns
4. A New Enemy
5. The Rite of Our Cross
6. That Darkness Shall Be Eternal
8. To The Mountains
9. Storm of The Destroyer (Bonus Track)
*K.I.N.G. Music Video
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Released: 2006, Century Media
Right now I am a bit pissed off. Mexico got eliminated from the World Cup on Saturday, and today, Tuesday, the French just threw out Spain. My World Cup is over; I don’t have any one to cheer for. It is going to be fun watching the rest of the games, but without a team, nah, it won’t be the same.
To get the anger out of me, I decided to grab Satyricon´s newest slab of Metal, NOW, DIABOLICAL, and turn the volume knob way up high for it to sink in my dark mind and take me somewhere else. A better hellish place. Fortunately, Satyricon´s latest seems to be working on my mind. It doesn’t get better than this when it comes to Black n´Roll!!!
NOW, DIABOLICAL is extremely groovy and has a raw yet very clear production that never sacrifices the overall dark, dense and extremely organic atmosphere. Satyr’s vocal approach is as razor-sharp as ever and his guitar work catchy and very memorable. Frost also plays in a very memorable way where the drums are mostly in the mid-tempo range. There are very few fast parts. There is no denying that this is the future of Black Metal, and to hell with purists, Black n’ Roll kills!!!
To tell you the truth I hadn’t heard Satyricon since NEMESIS DIVINA and they really impressed me here. I could even say, that NOW, DIABOLICAL is even better than that mighty piece of black art. Just listen to “Now, Diabolical”, “K.I.N.G” and the epic “To The Mountains” and judge for yourself.
NOW, DIABOLICAL will surely be smashed once again by “kvlt” black metallers claiming that Satyricon lost their Black Metal roots a while back, and that the only thing that is still “real” are Satyr’s vocals. And you know what, to hell with them once again!!! Satyricon is as true as Black Metal can get and if you are not moved by the infernal pleasures of NOW, DIABOLICAL, you simply have no clue about Extreme Metal. Isn’t Black Metal about doing what pleases you after all? There is no denying that this is a masterpiece, so sink your teeth here, cause if your team is already out of the World Cup, this will surely take you to a heller better place. And if it is still in there competing, well, listen to it too. And if it didn’t participate… Stay Heavy!!!
Now, Diabolical / K.I.N.G.
The Pentagram Burns
A New Enemy
The Rite Of Our Cross
That Darkness Shall Be Eternal
To The Mountains
Storm (Of The Destroyer)(bonus) K.I.N.G. (video).
Satyr - Vocals, guitars, all other instruments.
Frost - Drums, percussion.
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