The Satanic Satanist review by Portugal. The Man

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  • Released: Jul 21, 2009
  • Sound: 9
  • Lyrics: 8
  • Overall Impression: 8
  • Reviewer's score: 8.3 Superb
  • Users' score: 9.5 (34 votes)
Portugal. The Man: The Satanic Satanist

Sound — 9
There is never a shortage of creativity in Portugal. The Man, although the avenues taken to relay that creativity have been somewhat different from album to album. The Alaskan natives always manage to make each individual album a distinctly unique entity, and their latest release The Satanic Satanist is no exception. The title alone is an intriguing factor, but it makes the band's output all the more fascinating because the general theme at times feels all about love. Messages or concepts aside, Portugal. The Man's music continues to try out new formats and genres, with the addition of rich harmonies and unusual instrumentation aiding in this goal. On the band's sophomore record Church Mouth, you could certainly hear certain epic, classic rock influences coming though. This time around, things are a bit more laid-back and happy-go-lucky. That's not to say there is not some amazing musicianship on the record (particularly with the keyboard/Moog work), but it just takes a different form. While the 1970's do come across in certain moments, The Satanic Satanist is driven by a mellower, more contemporary feel than previous works. At times you can't help but hear some similarities to other bands, but there is enough going on within each Portugal. The Man song that those instances are fleeting. The main example comes in The Sun, which features a chorus that sounds strikingly like Oasis' Don't Look Back In Anger. On a completely different side of the spectrum (and in this case, does hearken back to the 70's), Lovers In Love features a synth intro that feels like a throwback to ELO. In any case, these are still memorable moments within the CD and are usually supplemented with Portugal. The Man's own melodic twist. The band's Church Mouth record fell more in the line of the progressive/classic rock genre, and to some degree the new record does as well. But The Satanic Satanist is the kind of album that is chock-full of slow grooving hooks and concentrated harmonies that, to put it succinctly, are the kind that make you want to sit back and chill. Other highlights include the wah-infused The Home, the falsetto-driven The Woods, and the Beatles-esque Let You Down.

Lyrics — 8
Much like the layered aspects of Portugal. The Man's music, the lyrical content tends to go in a variety of directions. People Say takes a jab at the war on terror (All the people, they say: "What a lovely day, yeah, we won the war; May have lost a million men, but we've got a million more), while Lovers in Love is a bit more straightforward (And if another lover takes their love away from you; Be careful with your mind; What you're bound to do). There are moments when the lyrics might seem overly simplistic, but in the next breath vocalist John Baldwin Gourley will deliver a line that is thought-provoking and often times bitingly funny.

Overall Impression — 8
Even with its unusual title that seems more fitting more for, say, a black metal outfit, The Satanic Satanist is Portugal. The Man's most accessible album to date. That's not to say it's overly benign or unoriginal because it is still full of fresh ideas, particularly when the Moog and keyboard come into heavy play. The entire record is an enjoyable listen, although it doesn't contain quite as many wow moments as some of their earlier works. One can make the argument that they are writing for the good of the song in general, and therefore don't need to have excessive instrumentation or epic/bombastic musical sections. If there's one thing that's certain, it's that Portugal. The Man has never been more on target in terms of writing memorable, instantly hummable melodies.

27 comments sorted by best / new / date

    just listened to it and I thought that it was really great. Not nearly as experimental or 'original' as previous albums but I think that I am definitely going to buy this one.
    those teasers they gave out were awfully good. can't wait to hear the full-length album!
    Sooooo great! i ve never heard of them but i bought this one and i'm absolutely stunned! totally recommended! Any other albums from this band worth checking?
    10/10. i love this album. if you are looking for something new, please go download this. if you like it, go buy it. support this band, they do more for their fans than any band i've ever seen. and that's quite an alluring picture of john on the front page, if i may say so myself.
    "takes a jab at the war on terror", who said anything about the war on terror? That is definitely not what the song is reffering too. Poor review As for the album, it is pretty good, a little short though. Definitely really liking the artwork though, it is unlike anything i have ever seen before. definitely a cd you should buy and not just download
    Is The Majestic Majesty (acoustic version of the album) going to be released at the same time?
    cleft11 wrote: Irony. A concept you will never understand.
    No sir, yo will never understand irony.
    that pic makes him look like shia from the transformers. just with a mustache... haha...
    this album was worth the 'wait' from censored colors. i say 'wait' because censored colors came out only 11 months ago. which is pretty impressive because this is such a solid album through and through. just great songwriting. couldn't enjoy it more!
    what the bull? i spend 2 years convincing my dad(a baptist preacher) that these guys dont worship satan. great
    This review didn't even mention Censored Colors or Waiters! You Vultures (W!YV is my favorite). I thought Censored Colors was cool, but it was quite obtuse.
    Just an awesome album. Not their best (still like Church Mouth the most) It's fantastic. EVERYONE should know this band.
    Great album, definitely their best work since their first album (though the others were really good too) Can't wait to hear them live again!
    Id like to hear this. The Mars Volta are also taking a more accesible approach with Octahedron, which also has some hummable parts.
    I love how they change their style a bit with each album, and I really like The Satanic Satanist. Though it still sounds a lot like Censored Colours, I feel. I really like the packaging though, it's really original
    Great title! - but would love to see the look on a lot of younger listeners parents faces haha a number of the beast situation all over again.
    DGD Or Die
    I just found these guys. They're sooo good. Got three of their albums now haha