Review Summary: First of all, this medieval thing we've brought into the music, into Black Metal -no one did that before, so we're quite proud of that - Satyr of Satyricon
Among black metal is or one so wise could say was, something quite misunderstood. You see, black metal was first started as a way to explore darkness or mysticism found in unearthly forces of the world. It was the musical feeling of being beguiled by a wintry fog set forest, or the darkness of a Carpathian castle or funeral, indeed it explored enchantment that had not even been uncovered since ancient times, such as the middle ages or Greek periods of reign. Yet this feeling only captured in our darkest dreams seemed to be lost as black metal disquietingly past through the years. However as this was lost many came back to the albums that had created this unique atmosphere and on finding them were possibly enthralled since alas most modern black metal outfits were either trying to sound more evil and shocking than one another or were just made to be grim or underground. However continually one album seems to be overlooked, which is criminal since it is one of the most unique black metal albums ever made. Indeed if circumstances were right the album Dark Medieval Times, could have been thought of to be as innovative as albums like De Mysteeris Dom Sathanas or Hvis Lysett Tar Oss.
So how can I start to describe such an album? How is it possible to describe such a sound that is indescribable? Well, in any case I must admit it is not but through words here I shall try my best and in the process may even make you buy the album.. One can only dream right?
To start this off, the year is 1994. In the past couple years, suicide, murder, arson and mysteries have wrought the attention of black metal, it is gaining commercial notoriety. So in this wake of success, instead of in the past where it was almost impossible for black metal bands to get recognition, with a first demo, the countryside of norway and even further were praising the low production of the band. Indeed it was time for a full length. Now at the core after dismissing guitarist Vargen and bassist Wargod it is just the two close friends Satyr and Frost. Satyr and Frost were unindoubtedly fascinated with the middle ages and soon this fascination would come into creation. This creation would be the majestic yet somber Dark Medieval Times and as it is created, Satyricon progenated a genre known as medieval metal.
However, their are many pitfalls that this band would have to face if they were to make a medieval metal album. As many of you have come to realize since the introduction of power metal, is that ancient history or folklore can be turned into mockery. If a band says they are off to battle riding on dragons in shining armor, some will laugh at this. So evidently Satyricon had to take precaution and did so with molding DMT. DMT is as serious as music gets, there is not one hint of comedy here, no it just sounds perfect. The main ingredient to the cauldron of such a sound would be the instruments. Like most first wave black metal albums, the production on the guitars is very low and yet this helps with the atmosphere. The guitars seem to pulsate inverted power chords of medieval polyphony transpired into black metal (yes I know quite a mouthful) , in simpler terms though, the guitars just have such a sound that really gives a feel of the middle ages and may have something to do with the polyphony style they used in the era. Yet the most distinct part of the guitarwork would be the acoustic passages. Haunting melodies seem to assume these passages as if a minstrel is entertaining a courtyard of dark knights, or forests of the middle ages echoing song from their blackened trails. Over-layed by flutes this combination creates quite the atmosphere and almost haunting creates such eloquent images, the effect is mind altering. Now onto the vocals and percussion. Of course Frost is known as being master commander of blasts and rightly so. Since this is their first album however, Frost isn't AS technically proficient as later albums but of course is still such a spectacle to behold. Indeed it is hardly an argument of whether or not Frost is one of the most beloved drummers in Black Metal and undoubtedly remains true. *ahem* Onwards now to the vocals. The only chagrin I have with the vocals of Satyr is that he doesn't do vocals that are immediately different from the genre, no his vocals are true black metal vocals, yet this is positive in many aspects as well. Satyrs voice is unique in it's entirety and it is recognizable but there also is the point of how evil he sounds. He may be the most evil vocalist in real black metal, something shown here that perfectly illustrates the mood of the dark ages.
The next figure I will address here is the concepts shrouding the album that lend into the middle ages. The problem to really discern a lot of this however happens to lead its way into the lyrics. There are no actual lyrics that come with the album so unfortunately only a few texts of what peoples interpretations lie, scattered across the internet. However just by such a conjuring album cover as this one, you know that the album is of great imagery. It is in my honest opinion though that Satyr and Frost decided to disclude the lyrics so that they could be open for interpretation and could assume the imagination of the mortal listeners. Perhaps it is of valiant knights channeling dark arts through forests, towards hidden chambers under castle walls, as I said it is open to interpretation. Now to also go into the imaginative concept of the dark ages is the various sound effects used. Wind effects are buried underneath distorted guitarists creating a mystical eerie atmosphere of winds sweeping pestilent fields. The opening track even sees horns and other various epic movie score instruments used, creating such a suspenseful and evil introduction to what is to come. Indeed all the music and effects give away a clearly genuine amalgamation of the atmosphere of the middle ages, something that bands have tried to do and failed, even copying this album. However don't take my word for it, take a listen to the title track and as the song goes form hard hitting black metal into enchanting melodies, I am sure that among myself and many others who have critically acclaimed this album, you shall be blessed upon the splendor of Dark Medieval Times. Go now my brethren and barter for this mysterious scroll of black metal magic, for it is nay one you hath forget.
- A legendary and talented line up assumes the throne.
- Music creates imagination and imagery of the middle ages and the epic enchantment beheld from it.
- It is composed in perfect black metal.
- The acoustic passages are something to splendor upon.
- One of the most innovative black metal albums of all time, creating a black metal subgenre.
- Like most black metal albums the production is very awkward for undesensitized listeners, so it is recommended for someone used to low production black metal. However, this has nothing to do with what the score that should be assumed of the album.