Satyricon | ‘Deep Calleth Upon Deep’
There’s an intimacy about what Satyricon do.
Like Darkthrone, there’s something about the fact that it’s just the two of them, burrowing away, making music in a really intense creative effort.
Two musicians whose style couldn’t really be more different: Frost’s detailed and eccentric drumming, and Satyr’s increasingly simplified, predominantly block riffing.
These sounds almost shouldn’t work together.
They occupy completely different spaces. And yet it’s the reason you keep coming back.
I haven’t really liked Satyricon’s latter day albums. Most have been a case of stomping, 4/4 riff, dull efforts with a standout or two, but mostly boredom.
They’ve been seeking a post-black metal heyday space and never quite found it.
Yet I’ve been drawn into this one, and into its many voices.
The title track was the key to it: it’s infectious and almost unforgettable from the first time you hear it. It’s an earworm par-excellence.
After that it was a case of discovering what the rest had to offer.
Mostly the answer is a riot of creativity from a newly enlivened Frost, whose detailed paintwork across the drums is at a creative height on here.
Those open, thick, block riffs that we’re all well familiar with from Satyr on this album allow Frost the space to speak his own thoughts through the drumsrokes – to make his own points and observations, almost.
With him, nothing is standard – nothing is off the shelf. He is an artist behind the kit, not a drummer.
‘Blood Cracks Open The Ground’ is a great track. Frost’s many rolls, toms and cymballings contribute to a feeling of ceremony almost, with the primitive tone of them all adding to the earthy feel.
His toms sound like bodhrans, as though he were thumping the cured hides of bulls.
There’s a real melancholy in ‘To Your Brethren In The Dark’. The lilt in it is incredibly Norse. Obviously, you might say. But still. To evoke it so well remains meaningful.
The brittle, icy harmonies are superb.
At the risk of harping on about the title track, it’s a remarkable piece of work. Satyricon in recent years have given all the impressions of craving to be mainstreamed. Unfortunately their music didn’t back it up. This is what it should have sounded like.
For those lamenting that none of this is as satisfying as the black metal of old, there are two moments of comfort.
‘Dissonance’ has the chill factor of Thorns with those sliding powerchords. A great track.
Then, as if in an answer to a need that’s crept through the album, ‘Black Wings And Withering Gloom’ gives us what we all want. A cold, fast, paean to ‘the snow covered mountains of north’.
You want it. You got it.
Battered Into Shape
As I said earlier, Satyricon have seemingly striven for a wider audience while making music that almost militated against it (largely by being a bit crap).
This one deserves especial praise because its clear that they’ve toiled at it for no other reason than to satisfy their own artistic needs. Every note has been eked out, battered into shape, heated and fixed to the other riffs around it.
It’s not crisp, it’s not clean – in fact it’s blunt and at times ugly and ungainly – but it is absolutely and completely distinctive: an accolade that few bands will, of course, ever get near.
4.6 / 5 – Earl Grey ::: 03/10/17