Review Summary: Satariel rises from the ashes of a 7 year departure to emerge with what is easily one of the best melodic death-metal albums of 2014.
Satariel return with a very strong 3 song album, White Ink Volume 1, which is to be released in 3 separate EPs. I find it peculiar, the idea of splitting up of what was intended to be an LP into 3 sections. However, in today’s world of independent releases and DIY attitude, there are probably a plethora of reasons for presenting their new music in this fashion.
Any fans already familiar with Satariel’s releases will undoubtedly be pleased and for the newcomers, it is the perfect introduction. A little background on their previous albums will help put White Ink into perspective. For those that are unfamiliar with their music, Satariel is a black/death metal band, but their music surpasses any easy categorization. Their first two releases seamlessly mixed together black metal and death metal with an approach that set them apart from their peers. While their overall sound originally resembled the vibe of the ‘90’s Sunlight Studios releases, such as Grave and Entombed, they continually incorporated many other styles into their music. Their 3rd LP, Hydra, found them embracing more atmosphere in the music, adding another element into their already dense sound. Hydra contained slower songs, with acoustic passages, keyboards, and the overall oppressive tone resembling bands such as Opeth, Insomnium, or Omnium Gatherum. The follow-up EP, Chifra, was easily their most accessible album, with groove-oriented songs, clean vocals, and almost abandoning the extreme metal tone of their previous releases.
Their new EP starts off with ‘Black Titans’ which is a commanding track and easily the strongest on this release and one of the best in their career. It incorporates almost every style they have used up to this point. It has a punishing, death metal verse, while slowly moving towards a more melo-death chorus with clean vocals. The clean vocals on this album, are not of the modern clean style used by such bands as Soilwork or In Flames, but more thrashy, such as Testament or Machine Head. This track is unrelenting, never letting up in its 3:49 play time. It is a song that almost demands a repeat listen because of its strength.
The 2nd track, ‘Daemons’, is much slower, and is very reminiscent of their older work. It plays out as a straight death metal track. There is nothing overwhelmingly right or wrong with the song, other than the fact that is preceded by a song that overshadows it. It is hard to judge the synchronization of these songs, not knowing what was intended with the original album, but seems like ‘Daemons’ would belong much more towards the middle or end of an album.
The 3rd track ‘Ending Circle’ picks the pace back up. Like the opening cut, it incorporates their strength at genre-blending. It starts out with chugging guitars and a pounding double bass, before a tempered pre-chorus with clean vocals, and then erupting into a very melodic chorus. Much like Insomnium, the chorus has death vocals, yet the guitar work weaves a woeful dark melody into the song making it very memorable.
It is hard to say how the style of this release will impact the tone of the 3 EPs. Again, it would be nice to know how the flow of the album would work as originally intended. Having to divide the album into thirds, with each chapter standing on its own, most likely changed the way the releases were structured. Regardless of what politics are involved with each ‘chapter’ this album shows Satariel in full form and makes one wonder how they are not a far more renowned act. They give a familiar style a sound unique and the originality shown here is refreshing in what has become an over-recycled and other-wise stale genre in recent years.