Satan - Atom by Atom - (9/10)
Published on September 18, 2015
Join the foot soldiers of evil.
It has been an insanely triumphant few years for Newcastle’s legendary Satan since reforming in 2011: Life Sentence, their highly praised comeback album, ended up on many end-of-year lists and was followed by extensive touring including their first dates in the USA amongst others. One such highlight, headlining the Sophie Lancaster Stage at Bloodstock Open Air in 2014, was made only better by the tent being near full before Megadeth (who had requested the band to play after them) finished their set on the main stage, packed with young and old fans alike. To top it all off, in the midst of touring, the band managed to record a new album, Atom by Atom. Could it be possible to top or even match the quality of their comeback?
The short answer is, well, yes! While not as fast as its predecessor in places, Atom by Atom is exquisitely packed with everything we love about Satan: unrelenting speed metal riffs and leads, twin guitar attacks, incendiary solos, and a voice so powerful it resonates throughout the land. Admittedly there is nothing new and experimental to bring to the table but, when they are still releasing such jaw-dropping material as this, you wouldn’t want them to add or subtract anything from the formula. This is pure Satan and you know what you are going to get, just like certain other British greats that have released material very recently (and if you need reminding who, then I ask: where have you been?).
It has to be said that Steve Ramsey and Russ Tippins are master craftsmen when it comes to writing and executing those riffs and solos that satisfy even the most insatiable of appetites, and this has been there gift all along. “Fallen Saviour” and “In Contempt” are excellent examples of this, with the former being a blistering tour de force with some intense shredding (and could quite as easily been recorded during the Court in the Act sessions) whilst the latter rides on a galloping rhythm fresh from the 1980s NWOBHM school of music. They have the energy of men half their age and triple the skill to boot. What’s more is that they know not to hang on to a riff for too long, resulting in succinct and continuous bursts of power that never gets dull, even after repeated listens.
If this isn’t enough for you then there is the unrivalled rhythm section comprised of Graeme English and Sean Taylor that drives Satan’s sound straight into the eye of the electrifying storms brewed by the axe wielders. And then there is Brian Ross, a man with pipes so fresh it is unreal. The album begins with his trademark scream but is missed for the most part. No matter – he is still one of the more powerful singers in the heavy metal tradition. As for the songs themselves, they’re simply mesmerising and prove that Satan are here to stay. Songs such as “Farewell Evolution” and “My Own God” are so fun to listen and sing along to that they will be fervently welcomed.
Out of all the bands who have reunited in the last half-decade, Satan are still the band to beat when it comes to releasing excellent heavy metal of the highest order. Not only that but they are also by far one of the busiest bands going. Atom by Atom is a fantastic record that cements their importance in style. I’d sure love to join “The Devil’s Infantry” with these foot soldiers of evil!