Review Summary: It was worth the wait: black metal in all its glory.
Satanic Warmaster was founded by Werwolf (Lauri Penttilä) in the late ‘90s, and worked as a one-man black metal band for a very long time. But ever since the recording of Fimbulwinter
(previous LP from 2014), other session musicians participated in the studio recordings as well. Several session musicians joined Werwolf in the making of the long-awaited Aamongandr
as well, like the returning Nattravn on guitars or Necroterror on bass, but for example a famous musician left his fingerprints on the record too, namely Trollhorn behind the keyboards from Moonsorrow. Good teamwork combined with exceptionally ace songwriting resulted in a very strong record, a fierce yet very balanced and powerful second-wave showpiece.
Satanic Warmaster is one of those bands which can perfectly typify the “golden standard” of black metal, in my opinion. The classic melodic riffing relying on fast and easily flowing tremolos, the often punkish and dynamic drumming (and blast beats, of course), the raspy and powerful screams, and perhaps additional synths for building up the desired majestic and evil atmosphere can be listed as key components of a good black metal album. Satanic Warmaster never lacked any of these qualities, and basically never added anything new to them either. The whole discography contains a handful of outstandingly brilliant records, like the legendary raw black metal icon Carelian Satanist Madness
, and the band has become better and better as time progressed while their style slowly shifted from raw black metal to a more polished and much more atmospheric direction. For example the first Satanic Warmaster albums didn’t contain any synths, only in the outros. From this aspect, Aamongandr
is the most sophisticated Satanic Warmaster album so far. It not just comprises all the previously mentioned characteristics, but (probably) due to Werwolf’s admirable sense for songwriting and a masterly studio work, the final product feels fascinatingly polished. The flow of layered guitar melodies (the most stupendous production had a significant effect on that) is one of the biggest strengths of the album (just give a listen to “Duke’s Ride” for example - it’s an absolute riff fest); but it’s also important to highlight the effect of smooth introduction of the hymnal synth melodies, for example in “Berserk Death”, “The Eye of Satan” and “Barbas X Aamon”, resulting in a majestic and immersive black metal escapade.
After an eight year-long interval, Satanic Warmaster has returned with an exceptionally great black metal assault. Aamongandr
is one of those albums which probably won’t be remembered for its novelty; but this is a record which still feels crisp and its quality elevates it to an elite league of releases within the black metal genre. Highly recommended.