Nay sayers will tell you that Satyricon finally went over the deep end with their self-titled album. While it was a far cry from the “black n’ roll” style of Now, Diabolical and Age of Nero, I found it to be an artistic masterpiece. It’s an atmospheric album that showed Satyricon could be thoughtful in ways we may not have expected. The album, Satyricon had me excited for this new adventure, and Deep calleth upon Deep just simply couldn’t come fast enough.
I wasn’t disappointed, just left slightly confused.
The opening track to the album, Midnight Serpent proved to be vastly different from the opening of Satyricon. It comes out strong, reminding you who Satyricon really is. The lyrics are carefully crafted and placed, making this track a powerhouse. Weighing in at 6:21, it seems like it would run out of steam, but it doesn’t fail to satisfy. However, the middle of this album takes a really drastic turn from that signature sound we came to know and love from this band. The track Blood Cracks Open the Ground has an amazing feeling to it… for the first two minutes or so. There’s this giant interlude that leaves much to be desired. It’s almost like they didn’t know what to do with the rest of the track. The tone just fizzles out and gets really choppy for a moment before jumping into this weird, scale-like riff. Around the three minute mark is when it starts to make sense again but it had quickly become jumbled that I had a hard time enjoying the finish. Well, the first time, at the very least.
Two tracks I had a very difficult time getting into were The Ghost of Rome and Dissonant. They feel like they don’t fit with the rest of the album. Before the vocals start with both songs, they sound straight up like Black Sabbath. The song that bears the namesake of the album has the same atmosphere, but I like the riff they chose for that over the other two. Stranger still is the use of the saxophone in the beginning of Dissonant. It’s like this freestyle, jazzy bit that hides in the background but is too noisy to miss. After a couple listen throughs, I was able to appreciate the vision that went into the two songs, yet there’s still just something missing from them. I would have preferred two tracks that are more of the same from Satyricon, because they just leave you scratching your head.
While a couple of the tracks have some amazingly concrete bits to them (To Your Brethren in the Dark and Deep calleth upon Deep), there are some shifts in key, scale, and tempo that make you question why they were put there. It’s almost as if this album can’t decide if it wants to sound like Black Sabbath, a love letter to some of the older stuff, or just a refreshing reboot to the band’s sound. There are many familiar aspects to it in overall tone, like the opening riff in Black Wings and Withering Gloom which reminds me of Mother North, but I find myself being whipped around by the nearly conflicting sounds that are littered throughout. The lyrical content follows a similar artistic view as the self-titled album, which I very much enjoyed. In all honesty: at first, I didn’t like this album. I’m still not sure if I really do, but there are, without question, pieces of it that’ll keep me coming back.
More than anything, it’s a brain exercise. It’s almost like Satyricon wants to deliver a message that clashes with some of the tones used. In an interview, Sigurd “Satyr” Wongraven said that he wasn’t sure if this would be the last Satyricon album or not. That said, he wanted the album to be special. He goes on to talk about how the album art was chosen and so on. Listening to Satyr talk about this album, you can tell it’s something important to him. If one thing is clear between this album, the self titled, and what has been said in that interview, it seems as though Satyricon will continue to experiment (if they continue at all) with sound and paint a more existential picture with their work. At the end of the day, I think I do like this album as a whole, though not all of the individual parts. It’s at least worth a listen, if nothing else.
Stay Metal \m/