Review Summary: Not a new kind of Satyricon, but certainly not the same.
Having a life-threatening event or near-death experience changes people. People naturally gain a newfound sense of appreciation to be alive, a change in perspective to what that means and a shift in personality as to what to do with the remaining time they have. Can people really trundle on absently as though nothing has happened when for a fragile moment, everything could have ended" Rewind to just over 2 years ago and Sigurd “Satyr” Wongraven, the frontman for Satyricon, was diagnosed with having a brain tumour. Luckily, it proved to be benign and unless it grows any bigger, there is no need for the extremely complicated surgery it would take to remove what he described as a ‘blind passenger’.
Coupled with the fact that the band celebrated the twentieth anniversary of their seminal album “Nemesis Divina”
last year and the fresh perspective Satyr recognises after his diagnosis, the sense of urgency the band displays over their new album is palpable when compared to its predecessor. Whereas 2013’s “Satyricon”
favoured progressiveness and slower, more mellifluous groves over scathing riffs and scornful growls, “Deep Calleth Upon Deep”
is tempered by a dark, sinister tone and a return to the band’s more icy, antagonistic roots. Tumultuous drumming and restless riffs introduce the album on “Midnight Serpent”, instantly establishing the sense of immediacy this album carries. Frost is on fire during “Black Wings and Withering Gloom”, scattering the longest track with shivering cymbals, thunderous rolls and furious fills, all of which complement Satyr’s sinister tone and illustrative lyrics. “The Ghost of Rome” has a continuously focused feeling, however, when the chorus kicks in, the rest of the song sounds more energised and captivating, reinforcing the album’s title that there is depth beneath these faster, aggressive songs.
Comfortably established as their best album in at least a decade, “Deep Calleth Upon Deep”
is not simply an album reminiscent of Satyricon’s glory days, nor is it the sound of the familiar regressive attraction black metal bands have to the days of “true” black metal; this album captures its own moment in time. The title track particularly displays this present state of mind where the band’s dark, sombre, spiteful aesthetic is instantly recognisable however Satyr infuses some outstanding, light-hearted grooves and melodies into the song, offering a different shade of colour and emotion to their blackened palate. What do you get when you put black metal, goth and sludge in a blender" “To Your Brethren in the Dark”. It might sound like a joke, but Saytr’s ability to weave his curious, searching riffs with Frost’s pulsating double bass drumming is perfectly coherent.
Admittedly, some tracks on “Deep Calleth Upon Deep”
are not as immediately grasping as others. “Blood Cracks Open on the Ground” and “Dissonant” both feature their own pressured rhythms. However, the structuring sounds a little too similar to their past work given how current the rest of the album sounds. While these songs are far from bad, they seem quite simplistic and, even with jazzy experimentation, the latter track’s lacks the depth that this album displays.
Like Nergal from Behemoth, Satyr was diagnosed with a serious illness and found himself standing on the verge of an abyss. Rather than simply close his eyes and fall into it he’s harnessed this experience as inspiration for the depth behind “Deep Calleth Upon Deep”
. The world hasn’t changed and nor has Satyricon. And, like Behemoth, this has propelled them to greater heights without sacrificing their identity as a brilliant black metal band. Life goes on; it’s where we go that changes.