SATARIEL hail from Sweden and they play a generic yet somewhat satisfying mixture of Melodic Death Metal with scattered Black Metal and acoustic touches here and there. Even though they’ve been in the business for over 12 years they have only released 3 full lengths during this period of time. So I really hoped that “Hydra” would be a great album, because I would probably not hear from the band for another 4 years, if I go by averages…
Well, I was both pleasantly surprised and a little let down. Firstly, this album can be divided into two parts: the full on Death Metal SATARIEL and the Acoustic/Poppy/Folky SATARIEL. Now, I know that it is good for a band to experiment and to try and build on their sound, but on “Hydra” is just doesn’t pay off. When they go for the throat with their satisfying Melo-Death I can really enjoy this album and you can feel the energy and conviction in those songs (e.g. “Be You Angel, Be You Beast”, “300 Years Old”). However, they have chosen to include sappy, acoustically driven songs after every good track on this album and it really screws up this album’s overall flow and direction. I have nothing against Folk-y/Acoustic songs, but they have to be executes with at least some sense of conviction and skill – on here they all pretty much just fall flat.
After the opening track (“The Freedom Fall”) that is good but nothing special, we dive right into the album’s best track, “Be You Angel, Be You Beast”, with its great opening riffs and vocals. This track can be said to be the generic, typical Swedish Death Metal track, but the band pulls it off flawlessly and the absolutely mesmerizing solo near the end is just the cherry on top for me. After that the album begins to suffer from incoherency, in terms of both quality songs and direction. Female vocals pop up every now and then from here on in and although se has a great voice (my promo doesn’t state who she is…), they tend to ruin the overall songs for me. “Claw The Clouds” is a total waste – it sounds as if the band suddenly turned into GARBAGE (the band). This problem doesn’t let up and basically every second song has this approach from track 3 on through the end.
It’s a shame, because the other songs are really great and this could have been a much stronger and more focused album. So, in the end the band had the ambitions but not the talents to pull it off… Sad, very sad. (Online April 27, 2006)