Sound — 7
Satyricon formed in 1991 as a Norwegian black metal band, but has always been a little bit unusual for the genre. The band has primarily only had two permanent members with a few flirtations with additional members, but remaining as just the members Satyr (vocals, guitars and keyboards) and Frost (drums) since 1997. "Satyricon" is the eighth full length album by the band and is only black metal by a very loose definition. The album is permeated with riffs and melody, and elements of hard rock, sludge metal and power metal. The album contains 10 tracks with a total runtime of approximately 51 minutes.
The album opens with the track "Voice of Shadows," which is by far the shortest track on the album clocking in at just over two and a half minutes. This track is all about slow riffs and pounding drums and no lyrics. Next up is the track "Tro Og Kraft" which kind of flows from the first track, as an almost continuation of "Voice of Shadows," but one of the most lyrically heavy tracks from the album. Musically, "Tro Og Kraft" is much more of a hard rock track except with the double bass pedal pounding throughout. "Our World, It Rumbles Tonight" has a sped-up sludge metal feel to it, with the black metal sound really only coming from the dark vocals and the use of the double bass drums. "Nocturnal Flare" has my favorite guitar riff from the album, with a strong "doom" feel to it and an awesome melodic lead guitar/solo. "Phoenix" surprised me, as it actually has clean vocals. Musically, "Phoenix" actually comes across as something that maybe Iron Maiden might have recorded. "Walker Upon the Wind" has a frantic schizophrenic feel to it, with a fast tempo, but honestly I got old pretty fast to me. "Nekrohaven" is another track that stood out as something a little bit different, and couldn't be called black metal even by the loosest definition it wouldn't have been out of place on a hard rock album in its entirety. "Ageless Northern Spirit" tries to pull the album back towards the black metal sound, especially with the vocals and the drums, but even so the guitar is a syncopated melodic little riff for the most part. "The Infinity of Time and Space" is probably one of the most standard black metal tracks on the album, except there are clean passages with very deep clean vocals breaking it up. The album closes out with the track "Natt," which opens with a synthesizer doing some pseudo-orchestral stuff and children's voices in the background. The melody definitely has an almost medieval feel to it, and then slowly builds to have a slow epic metal feel. The song closes out like it began, with the medieval sounding melody. While this definitely is NOT black metal, I enjoyed the album as a whole.
Lyrics — 7
While Satyricon isn't your conventional black metal band, Satyr definitely has a really strong black metal voice he manages to sound truly demented and yet coherent. Track "Phoenix" surprised me with guest clean vocals by Sivert Høyem, vocalist of the the Norwegian band Madrugada, and honestly they were pretty awesome vocals for the track. The lyrics on the album are actually fairly minimal; while the tracks are not instrumental the lyrics are fairly sparse throughout the album. The lyrical themes hint at prophecy, and as an example here are some lyrics from the track "Our World, It Rumbles Tonight": "Smoke/ Across the night sky/ tears the black open/ clouds toward the earthbound/ breaks the light down/ this moon, this moon/ this night, this night/ this sign, this sign/ They symbolize/ to me/ what must be done/ shadows that mirror/ and nurture the spirit/ my world crumbles/ Your world, a star/ our world, it rumbles tonight." The lyrics definitely fit the music.
Overall Impression — 7
I think it is time for Satyricon to decide what kind of music they make, because at this point the elements of black metal in their music are fairly sparse and seem to almost just be included to keep the black metal label. In all honesty, the doom/sludge metal material on the album was much more enjoyable to me, and even the track "Phoenix" which came completely out of left field was great for what it was. On the other hand, I can't think that hardcore fans of black metal are going to enjoy the album very much. My favorite tracks from the album would probably be "Phoenix," "Ageless Northern Spirit," "Our World, It Rumbles Tonight" and "Voice of Shadows." The jury is still out on the track "The Infinity of Time and Space" as it seems with each listen my opinion of the track flip flops. The bottom line is that I believe that this is a very decent metal album, but a horrible black metal album.