Never a band to be predictable, SATYRICON have now delivered their follow up to “Volcano’ and again Satyr and Frost continue to push the boundaries of the genre. This genre as you can see is Black Metal although this can’t be considered entirely true anymore for this “Now, Diabolical”. The production couldn’t be further removed from the style of the olden days and is actually as clean and clinical as it can be. Upon first listening this could trick you into thinking that the presented music is very technical but again this isn’t so. Satyr has now filled the songs with groove and Rock ‘N’ Roll rhythms and this is actually the most minimalist offering of the Norwegians to date.
Luckily the most important aspect of a Black Metal recording, dark atmosphere, doesn’t suffer because of this but it is presented in a way that will surprise you no matter what. The album opener and title-track starts with a very simple set of repetitive Rock riffs with a little hint of dark melody. Supporting this guitar playing are the impressive drums of Frost that sound great with lots of breaks and double bass rolls. The clinical sound makes them very easy to follow. Satyr’s vocals also have plenty of opportunity to shine and they often do, he sounds very controlled yet diabolical (pun intended.) All these simple elements actually create a hypnotizing atmosphere, which can be said for a lot of Black Metal, but as you can imagine the emotion is pretty different here.
“K.I.N.G.” takes the new SATYRICON formula even further with a catchy riff that still manages to show some darkness at times and an even catchier vocal duet of course done all by Satyr himself. The following songs repeat this formula except that there are some darker passages to be found. The thing with this whole album is that the dark melodies come across really weird in such a catchy and clinical sound as opposed to a raw and cold sound. Whether that’s a good thing is for the listener to decide.
Other odd songs are the slower “Delirium” and the even slower ‘To The Mountains” of which the latter, regardless of the promising title, doesn’t quite work as the length of the song doesn’t comply with the amount of things going on, that is, very few. “Storm Of The Destroyer” then is the odd man out as this sounds much more traditional and is played really fast. Conservative that I am when it comes to Black Metal, this is actually one of my favorite songs of the album.
The big question now is how does “Now, Diabolical” compare to other SATYRICON and Black Metal albums in general. Even if you really liked for example “Rebel Extravaganza” this can sound pretty surprising. And if SATYRICON means “Dark Medieval Times” to you this might’ve well be a completely different band you’re listening to. It’s also completely different from basically any other Black Metal album ever released except that modern DARKTHRONE also features hints of “Rock ‘N’ Roll”.
At the moment I am really enjoying this release but that was very different upon the first listening and I can imagine it will change again soon. Traditional raw Black Metal will always be a more preferred style by me. But then again you can’t deny the originality of this release as well as that the musicianship is class, as simple as it may be sometimes. I still am ambivalent towards “Now, Diabolical” and I expect that this will be the same for everyone with the first listens. A great album for some fierce discussion. (Online June 7, 2006)