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Dark Medieval Times - * * * *

Rebel Extravaganza - * *

Dark Medieval Times

Satyricon is a black metal band from Norway consisting of two dudes that look and dress like Baraka, that deformed lizard fucker from Mortal Kombat. On this, their first album, the band is obsessed with the music and culture of medieval Europe, a concept which sets them apart from most black metal bands who generally are obsessed with vikings and satan. Conceptually, they really work this medieval obsession into their music with results that are far better than could ever be expected. The opening song, Walk The Path of Sorrow begins the album with about two minutes of symphonic music and sound effects to set the mood before launching into a black metal grind that is so primitive and fucking evil that it made me want to start worshipping satan right then and there.

There is no bottom end whatsoever on this disc, it is basically all guitar and drums. I don't even think there is a bass player. The drums are doing most of the work for the low end with a lot of blastbeats and double bass to carry the weight of the guitar. The drummer is so fucking good that most times you don't even notice the lack of bass on this album. There are some parts of the album that even start to evoke shades of Hellhammer from Mayhem, such as The Dark Castle In The Deep Forest and Taakeslotter where the amped up bass drum fills make me want to fucking smash concrete blocks with my head. The vocals are exactly what you would expect from a band that looks like this, Burzum styled high end death shrieks that sound like pure fucking agony was recorded and put onto disc for the purpose of making this album. Musically, the black metal sections on this album most closely resemble Graveland and Darkthrone, other poorly produced and similarly high end obsessed black metal guitar bands.

What really sets this band apart though, beside their talent for creating extremely dark and fast metal riffs, is their obsession with classic instrumentation and creating a sense of atmosphere and constant conceptual experimentation that rarely settles into one style for more than a couple of minutes. Acoustic medieval music is mixed with black metal on every track of this disc, and interludes of flutes and sitars are traded off regularly with fucking blastbeats and death screams to create a record that sounds like nothing else out there. Classical acoustic guitar is also frequently utilized in the mix and sometimes for the course of an entire song (Myn Hyllest Til Vinterland). Occasional symphonic flourishes (Skydeggans, Into The Mighty Forest) are also worked in below the mix to emphasize the base root of the music being played and further bring a sense of atmosphere into the band's sound. The tone and texture of the album can be easily compared to other period obsessed metal bands such as Amon Amarth and Nile in these regards. The music always returns to the basic black metal format but is augmented by atmosphere and sonic experimentation with different styles relevant to the historical time period, which set it apart from a standard metal record and give it a sense of purpose. The band ultimately succeeds in working their concept into the music and in laying down some of the sickest and most different sounding black metal that two Norwegian motherfuckers in lizard goth makeup could ever be expected to record. Baraka wins. Fatality.

* * * *

Reviewed: July, 2003

Rebel Extravaganza

The first thing that should be said here is that pretty much every song on this disc is way too fucking long. A lot longer than the quality and diversity of the material should allow. The first thing I noticed is that the entire middle section could have been cut from Bronze Chains (11 fucking minutes) and it would have changed nothing about the song. The riffs are slower and more accessible and the vocals are more intelligible on this disc than on the first one. These may seem like good things, but adding accessible riffs seems to lead to an inordinate amount of guitar wanking and also to having 6 different sections in a song simply to use all the different riffs. One constant blastbeat isn't necessarily a good thing, but the first album was diverse without being confusing or disjointed and the music was more interesting. The first disc had different instrumentation and a sense of concept and purpose, symphonic and classical parts interspersed with the metal parts. The first disc actually used flutes in a black metal song, and it worked. Here diversity comes in the form of inane spoken word passages and 100,000 medicore guitar parts. That's about it.

Some of the metal riffs are quite good (Prime Evil Renaissance). A lot of them aren't, and repeating them 600 times isn't going to make them any more interesting or give the song an epic feel, it just makes it really fucking boring to listen to. The vocals border on self parody at times, especially since the words can be more easily understood with the better production on this disc. Sometimes this guy sounds really fucking evil and sometimes he sounds like someone took Smeigel from Lord Of The Rings and dressed him up in corpsepaint.

Prime Evil Rennaissance is a great song, and the end of Scorn Torrent is pretty incredible. Havoc Vulture is just fucking horrible. Outside of these there are no songs which really provoke any serious reaction either way. Mediocrity is the main defining aspect of most of this. It's not something that's necessarily bad but not anything to get excited about either. And let's face the fucking facts here, most people aren't putting black metal on for pleasant background music. The point of this music is to be extreme, to be fucking brutal, and to assault the senses and provoke a reaction. Rebel Extravaganza doesn't do any of that, it just plays itself out without much of anything memorable happening. The best parts of this album are the straight out black metal sections, like the middle section of Filthgrinder where the drums fucking unleash and the little goblin dude starts screaming about blasphemy death and evil. Cut about four minutes off the rest and it is a perfect black metal song. Unfortunately there is so much filler and so many repetitive uninteresting mid paced metal riffs on pretty much every song of this disc that finding the good parts requires a lot of patience and a quick fast forward reflex. That takes time and energy away from my drinking and how the fuck am I supposed to appreciate this sober. Even for the real hardcore black metal fans, at least 40 minutes of this CD is time that would be better spent burning down churches or sacrificing your pets or something. Fuck this. Well fuck most of it, the parts that aren't good at least.

* *

Reviewed: July, 2003

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