Review Summary: Satyricon go through the motions. Again.
Five years have passed since we last heard anything at all of Satyricon, yet it seems that no-one save the very few devoted fans of the band left cares. Not to say that Satyricon have alienated what once was a considerably large arsenal of fans, but ever since the release of arguably the band’s most accessible album, “Volcano”, the band have gradually been forgotten by more and more people with every successive record. Despite the band’s constant pleas to convince everyone that they were in fact progressing with their sound, both “Now diabolical” and “The age of Nero” suffered from songs which, for the most part, plodded along at a snail’s pace and never really took off or exploded as much as, say, ‘Mother north’ or even ‘Fuel for hatred’. So it’s really up to the band’s questionably self-titled release to salvage whatever respect they have left within the world of extreme metal.
Unfortunately, things do not look good for the band, as “Satyricon” begins with four tracks which sound as if they were dragged into the depths of hell (No half-hearted pun intended), and the people suffering are actually the poor souls who sit throughout the entirety of ‘Tro og Kraft’ or the maliciously mediocre ‘Our world, it rumbles tonight’. What the hell were the band thinking? Even the intro, ‘Voice of shadows’, which admittedly is to be best remembered as the first time Satyricon have ever used an actual intro for an album, doesn’t amount to anything but a gradually louder noise, and ‘Tro og kraft’ has a structure that is unfortunately too repetitive to interest even the most committed Sayricon fan. A guitar that repeats its own riff for minutes on end, drums that are nowhere near as prominent as they used to be, and a man of Satyr’s stamina (He’s apparently played football in his local community before) growling lowly as if he’s completely bored with his own presence. ‘Our world, it rumbles tonight’ suffers in the same way, and is only overshadowed by ‘Nocturnal flare’ if not for a slightly faster pace, then definitely for a more interesting mid-section that actually uses a solo and a more melodic approach to song-writing. As if anyone needed to be reminded, these major problems are what the band’s previous two albums suffered from.
Thankfully, by the time ‘Phoenix’ arrives (if you haven’t given up on the band or indeed the album altogether yet), things begin to pick up increasingly well. This particular song features Sivert Høyem (of Madrugada fame) singing with clean vocals, which is nice, because it replaces Satyr's bleak, monotone vocals and give the listener a nice surprise. In the same way that ‘The wild hunt’ worked for Watain, ‘Phoenix’ is actually concrete evidence of Satyricon progressing with their sound, and although the instrumentation is still dull compared to what the band are fully capable of doing, it works in their favour. Other songs which help “Satyricon” climb out of the pit it fell into include ‘Walker upon the wind’, which surprisingly brings to mind a more modernized albeit restrained version of ‘Forhekset’ (From the band’s “Nemesis divina” album), and ‘Nekrohaven’, which can be safely compared to ‘Fuel for hatred’ for all it’s fast-paced frenzy and explosive atmosphere, gives the listener a little more excitement and even offers some replay value.
However, these are a mere three songs out of a total of ten that offer rare, brief delights, and it isn’t long before ‘Ageless northern spirit’ and the unfortunately everlong ‘The infinity of time and space’ return to that same, dull atmosphere that spits out mediocrity, resulting in a half-hearted outro that is nicely melancholic, and could even be called the band’s “anthem” if it hadn’t been placed on an album as virtually lackluster as “Satyricon”.
So what we have here is definitely Satyricon going through the motions. If anyone expected any kind of improvement upon “The age of Nero”, prepare to be disappointed. “Satyricon isn’t absolutely terrible, but it’s not particularly good either, and rather sub-standard from a band (or a duo, if you like) who are fully capable of making us nod our heads in appreciation of good music. If you do want to hear just how brilliant Satyricon can be, take a walk in the nearby forest, bang the band’s first three albums on a playlist and listen to them repeatedly, because “Satyricon” is, if anything, an example of a band on the verge of losing their creativity.