Satyr – Vocals, Guitars
Frost – Drums
Commando – Commando emphasizes the strength and ambition of a power hungry battalion hell bent on chaos. Like all classic Black Metal, the vocals are screeching and high in pitch. The drums are all powerful and relentless just as the guitars provide a backdrop of insanity. The song itself plays out like a World War II documentary, filled with scenes of Hitler invading Russia, or like a scene from the battle Thermopylae. It’s brutal and intense and balls-out mosh mania.
The Wolfpack – Upon hearing the Wolfpack, one will feel transported back to the early stages of Black Metal; bands like Venom or any one of the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal bands that were peers of Motorhead and their spawn. This track is characterized as more melodically driven, and while it’s steadier groove-wise, the aggression is all too present and Satyricon could never be accused of ‘softening’ up. Instead, the idea is to grab a hold of a different way of expressing evil personified by a bloodthirsty animal.
Black Crow On A Tombstone – Picking up speed in a big way Black Crow, marches back to the heavier side of Satyr’s banshee style vocals. The second half of the verse is absolutely groove. I always felt that that’s what made great Black Metal groups. Unlike death and standard heavy metal, Black Metal has always been a little writhing and slithery, creating a very hypnotic beat that induces a state of vertigo. The guitars sound just as such; winding and twisting around the drums. Also of note is unlike modern hard rock and heavy metal the guitars are a little more midrange based, although keeping true to the scooped tonality, just on a more moderate level. The double breakdown section that Frost goes after souds amazing. The kick has tons of fatness and thump.
Die By My Hand – Lyrically, this track reminds me of Metallica’s Ride The Lightning album. There’s a stream of conscious that Metallica used to be in tune to during their earlier years and is much of a reason why so many heavy bands were and are still influenced by that style of writing. The drums take on a somewhat more hollowed out sound…its almost as though they were recorded in a room with a steel floor. The guitars as usual are visceral and crushing. I would have been a little more satisfied to some leads or hear the song go into another direction, as it might be a little too linear, but it’s a track that neither lingers nor gets stale.
My Skin Is Cold – This is one of favorite songs on the album. It brings a bit more of the classic 80’s Black Metal ala Venom or King Diamond. This is more of the sound that I always have enjoyed about darker metal song, mixing the heavy with the ethereal and balancing the fine line between the power of either. The words of My Skin Is Cold paint a beautifully destructive picture, each stanza sinks in like the venom of a black widow and infects you until you run cold.
The Sign Of The Trident – Again, the lyrics of Satyricon are a point of much interest. Its extremely obvious that they are well crafted and competent and they have a way with words like a Heavy Metal version of W.B Yeats, which is an accurate comparison since Yeats was an Irish poet well versed in writing a very by the way, thought by thought manner. The mixture of groove and speed kicks ass and the wave-like arpeggios of the guitar lines are sexy. I know, not often a word used for heavy music, but to me it fits because they have a certain swagger that you aren’t going to get in another heavy act unless they had a more rock n roll influence.
Last Man Standing – Shadows of early Slayer rear its head in Last Man Standing. And of course I love Slayer, so what’s not to like about this track? Nothing. The feel is much like the first track of the album; more chest pounding, slam your head into the wall psychosis. The main riff is vaguely similar to two main riffs from two other bands I adore- one from Alice in Chains’ current hit, “Check My Brain” and the other by Pantera (the name slips me right now). Last Man Standing would be THE best track on this album, and without a doubt the one that I would introduce to someone who has never heard Satyricon before. Admittedly, I had not heard them until this album and I feel totally lame for not hearing earlier.
Den Siste – Den Siste is the black sheep of the bunch, obviously this is because its written and sung in Norwegian. The main verse riff is MUCH like what AIC would have written on their Dirt Album, which is a very high honor to be compared to. Also, instead of making this a completely guitar driven song, the bass is allowed to step out into the spotlight this time. Though still mainly playing a supportive role in the mix of things, having that solo bass section break the song in half and keeps it fresh the rest of the way around to the next verses. As an ender for the album, Den Siste dedicates itself to make you feel uncomfortable, uneasy. Firmly, this is the best move for this type of band, it’s all about staying within the realm of despair. Simply put, swan song perfection.
Extending on my thoughts earlier, honestly I’d never heard Satyricon until now. What I’ve found in this band is a fantastic combination of many of the groups that I already love, and knowing how important familiarity is to many music listeners, this is absolutely a great thing to be. Familiar yes, but not overly derivative is Satyricon’s strong suit. They ride the fine line better than many a Black Metal band and carry the torch set ablaze over 30 years ago with proficiency and utmost competence.