Released: 2004, Sony
Reviewer: Lord of the Wasteland
Oh, woe is me! Satyricon have gone and signed with a major label (Sony imprint, EatUR Music) so now they suck, right? WRONG! VOLCANO (released outside of North America way back in 2002) sees the band improve over the overly long and complex REBEL EXTRAVAGANZA while retaining every shred of experimentation, bleakness and hatred. Admittedly, VOLCANO is miles away from the tin-can production of DARK MEDIEVAL TIMES and they have pretty much abandoned the early folk influences altogether, but this is a new decade and “troo” black metal elitists be damned. Satyricon is no longer the fastest, darkest or most “kvlt” black metal band out there, but they have delivered an album full of groove and melody that surpasses their last effort. Unfortunately, it is still not without its flaws.
“With Ravenous Hunger” opens with some digital effects and the line from a movie whose title escapes me, “On my signal, unleash hell.” Great opening for the onslaught that is to begin as the track is a mid-paced rager with Satyr spewing lyrics like “Who made deceit into the ultimate award.” “Angstridden” has a groovy riff and chunky bass line with some excellent drumming from Frost. Female vocals appear on this track (as well as “Mental Mercury” and “Black Lava” from Anja Garbarek) and they are very out of place here. They just don’t fit with Satyr’s rasp. Maybe if he had adopted clean vocals (perish the thought) they would have been a better match, but they just don’t work as things are. It’s almost like a Portishead record! “Fuel for Hatred” is an incredibly catchy song (the uncensored video is included, as well) with an unforgettable riff in the chorus. This should have been a breakout hit for the band, but lo, what avenue does Satyricon have to get their music played? The other highlight on the CD is “Possessed,” with its brilliant drumming from Frost and stellar vocals from Satyr. What is noticeably missing is the lack of blastbeats. Frost could have thrown them in everywhere, but they are not missed. The worst part of the CD is the final track, “Black Lava.” Clocking in at an unnecessarily long fourteen and a half minutes, the song goes on for far too long and actually had me reaching for the fast forward button. It’s slow, plodding pace is a real test of patience. What a pity to end things on a negative note.
Satyricon has been on the cutting edge of black metal since their first release ten years ago. REBEL EXTRAVAGANZA dared to bring in electronic elements which lost them many of their core fans. The medium pace and clean production won’t win over any traditional black metal fans, but Satyricon obviously won’t let that keep them from progressing beyond the archetypes those people embrace so much. VOLCANO took several years to finally get released and I’m already eagerly awaiting its follow-up.
KILLER KUTS: “With Ravenous Hunger,” “Fuel for Hatred,” “Possessed”