Satyr’s a lucky guy. Satyricon is the first black metal band to get a major label release, and they remain 100% in control of the direction of their music and artistic presence. Before the release of this album, I read an interview with Satyr– He came off as highly pretentious, calling his new work “state-of-the-art black metal…” But after finally listening to Volcano, I can’t say I can disagree with him. Being a relatively mainstream release, I can imagine not only Burzum-obsessed 17-year olds shunning Volcano, but I don’t see CoF and Dimmu-worshipping symphonic black metal fans embracing this any time soon either. Their loss.
The album has a few progressive tints scattered throughout the song structures, but it’s mostly minimalistic black metal with a few hard rock and thrash elements. The songs are a bit doomier/slower as well as more expansive, dragging you through some twisted chord progressions that cut like sharp rocks. This is by no means how I imagined Satyricon’s EUM debut, and I rather like it. You don’t have to atonally grind for an album to reflect an attitude that doesn’t accept compromise.
This album starts out with the song “With Ravenous Hunger,” a fitting opener. It begins with some alternating growls and hair-raising spoken-word verses by Satyr, laid over some sharp arrangements featuring intelligent use of melody.
The second track, bearing the silly name “angstridden,” kind of shambles along and introduces some female vocals into the mix. I can’t remember her name, but she’s apparently the daughter of some esteemed Jazz musician. Anyway, her vocals are fragile, yet darkly mysterious. And yes, I do know what a cliche it is to describe female vocals with those adjectives. The song eventually gives way to some chilling keyboard meanderings at the end. (Don’t think Dimmu.)
“Fuel For Hatred” is the most controversial track. People say it was added simply for the purpose of a “hit single,” and that it’s musically simple. And yes, it is. But to that I say, so what? It recalls the days of Celtic Frost and Bathory, in some ways. And Frosts’s fluttering double-bass is always fun to listen to.
“Suffering the Tyrant” is pretty nondescript the first few listens. Lots of seemingly random spoken-word parts, and some nice vitriolic hisses by Satyr as usual. “Possessed” is another thrasher in vein of “Fuel…,” and unlike the aforementioned song, is quite interesting structurally. “Repined Bastard Nation” is one of my favorites, with some sharp hooks and venemous vocals.
“Mental Mercury” is trance inducing, with some intentionally monotonous grinding passages that lead into lush tremolo melodies. It slows down to a hypnotic crawl, before being engulfed in chiming keyboards.
“Grey heavens!… No light shed!” Satyr snarls, initiating the 15 minute epic, “Black lava.” It’s very tiring to listen to, and as repetitive as you hear. It brings to mind being trapped on the side of a magma-drenched mountain. War drums(!)and incredible female vocals attribute to an early sense of variety, before one riff obsessively maintains for several minutes. I’m afraid describing the song does in no justice, since its strength lays in the repetition. That fact Satyr pulls off what even Varg has had trouble doing is intriguing.
If you’re a fan of black metal, or metal in general, I highly recommend anything Satyricon has done. (Especially Dark Medieval Times.) Disregard the simple-minded, black metal doesn’t mean releasing the same album over and over again.
- Thus says the Pellington