Satan
Court in the Act


5.0
classic

Review

by Casavir USER (3 Reviews)
October 13th, 2021 | 54 replies


Release Date: 1983 | Tracklist

Review Summary: A crown jewel of the NWOBHM.

Though many talented bands emerged from the New Wave of British Heavy Metal in the early 80s, most have slowly and perhaps unfairly been buried by dust and time. Newcastle’s Satan remains a prime example, despite consistently putting out strong material well into the modern era. Through lineup changes and even temporary rebrandings to the names Blind Fury under a more AOR-esque sound and later Pariah as a power/thrash outfit, they have only continued to build on the legacy of their cult classic debut, 1983’s Court in the Act. Satan’s effort here combines aggression with refined songwriting and ends up being a worthy rival to more legendary contemporaries such as Iron Maiden, Savatage and Mercyful Fate.

From its opening song, Trial By Fire, the album already surprises with its mix of keen melody and frantic proto-thrash riffs that go toe to toe with Metallica’s Kill Em All at its most intense. It always throws a curveball the listener’s way in the form of a surprising bass harmony or seamlessly inserting a more pensive melodic section that still fits the atmosphere of the album, providing a mournful and trepidatious edge to its dynamic yet fiery proceedings. A tonally appropriate and captivating success given the particular focus this album has lyrically on injustice in all forms and personal strife. Between the occasional occult vibe and the relatively complex approach to music, comparisons to Mercyful Fate’s Melissa could be made, yet what sets Court in the Act apart is its more down to earth tone. Satan pull it off naturally and without compromise, and manage to really cut their own niche in the process.

To that end, the vocals also capture that sorrowful texture while still being endearing. The singing is compelling without being as larger than life as the powerhouse performances of Bruce Dickinson or King Diamond. Indeed, Brian Ross' softer mid-range vocals give added character to an album like this where other approaches perhaps might have not. Besides, he still brings a fair amount of charming swagger and attitude along with some impressive high screams on tracks like the martial Broken Treaties, the progressive closer Alone in the Dock or the searing masterclass of early power/speed metal that is Break Free.

Of course, while it is easy to rain superlatives on this album’s highlights, it’s also very consistent even in its “weaker” moments. On some NWOBHM records (e.g. Holocaust’s 1981 The Nightcomers) the ambitious and carefully constructed tracks may be interspersed with more banal hard rockers making for an uneven listening experience. Even Iron Maiden’s debut kind of falls victim to this a bit with Running Free. The two songs that somewhat resemble that here, No Turning Back and Hunt You Down, are rockier in tone for sure but contain many of the qualities that make the rest of the album notable. There are a lot of great rhythms and inventive lead playing on both with the tense melodic bridge on Hunt You Down actually being one of my favorite moments on the album, even if the song itself still isn’t close to being my favorite on Court.

At no point do Satan rest on their laurels or phone it in, thus separating themselves from a lot of their peers in this regard. The result is an album that still feels remarkably contemporary, especially with all of the new Haunts and Eternal Champions from the new wave of traditional heavy metal bands who could still learn a thing or two.


user ratings (143)
4.1
excellent


Comments:Add a Comment 
parksungjoon
October 13th 2021


38237 Comments


hard

Digging: Slint - Tweez

Casavir
October 13th 2021


4610 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

nice dig

Pikazilla
October 13th 2021


19239 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Amazing band



Among all the heavy metal acts, these guys and Hell made quite possibly the best comeback in the early 10s

Casavir
October 13th 2021


4610 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

The fact that Hell weren't signed back then was a disgrace.

Pikazilla
October 13th 2021


19239 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Was that the reason why they never released music all those years ago? Wtf

parksungjoon
October 13th 2021


38237 Comments


i need to revisit Disgrace

Pikazilla
October 13th 2021


19239 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

you are a disgrace

Casavir
October 13th 2021


4610 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

"Was that the reason why they never released music all those years ago? Wtf"



From what MA says, the only label they were signed to in the '80s was a label called Deadly Weapon but judging from the name, that could have still been an independent label on part of the band members.



Viriathus
October 13th 2021


3414 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Gud NWOBHM. Probably best Satan album.

SteakByrnes
October 13th 2021


25120 Comments


album art goes hard as hell, nice review cas my dear boy

Digging: Every Time I Die - Radical

Casavir
October 13th 2021


4610 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

"Gud NWOBHM. Probably best Satan album."



Yeah, I think so too.



"album art goes hard as hell, nice review cas my dear boy"



Thanks, man. The album goes even harder too.

el_newg
October 13th 2021


1379 Comments


wait is this seriously the first review this has gotten wtf sput

album rips!

Casavir
October 13th 2021


4610 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

"wait is this seriously the first review this has gotten wtf sput"



Yeah, no idea how that's been the case for this long.

MrSirLordGentleman
October 13th 2021


14577 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

woah this one needed a review badly



nice contribution to the community Casavir m8, this album rules

parksungjoon
October 13th 2021


38237 Comments


agreed

brainmelter
October 13th 2021


7583 Comments


nice review Cas, pos’d
still need to check this

Digging: Flaming Ouroboros - Uphold the Majesty

parksungjoon
October 13th 2021


38237 Comments


Do it bro

deathofasalesman
October 13th 2021


7644 Comments


you have to be a really good band to have the name satan and i'm glad it's this one

Digging: Every Time I Die - Radical

parksungjoon
October 13th 2021


38237 Comments


Yea

Emim
October 14th 2021


31178 Comments


Where does he find the time?



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