6/20/2007 - Review by: Etiam
Satyricon - Now, Diabolical - 2006 - Roadrunner Records
But for what? A strange nostalgia surrounds Satyricon’s early days as if they were once deities purely black metal ad unsullied by popular gimmicks or unorthodox instrumentation. But in reality Satyricon were trailblazers from the beginning, exploring new realms and sounds that others would or simply could not. Black metal began as a reactionary movement, yes, but not a retrograde one—it did not retread grounds from previous generations, and used its primal nature to forge an entirely new style. Disgruntled fans would also do well, as further evidence, to remember that ‘Dark Medieval Times’ pioneered the use of keyboards in extreme metal. So why the backlash in this millennium, after those precedents and continual hints? Was ‘Megiddo’ not enough of one, with its remixes and Mötorhead cover?
Perhaps this stubborn mindset has survived so long because Satyricon were viewed by some less as musicians and more as anti-establishment pundits, resisting the modern mainstream in all its facets. And while the band has given some ground on that front—it’s difficult to flick off ‘the man’ with one hand when you’re signing a major contract with the other—their status as an outsider has remained largely intact. In recent years the band has turned down major festival tours (Ozzfest included), avoided most merchandising opportunities (a keyword search on Hot Topic’s website still yields zero hits), and engages in none of the rock star braggadocio actions to which they are legitimately entitled. Yet many still refuse to acknowledge this, and instead point to the superior production and ‘catchy’, more rock-oriented riffing of 2002’s ‘Volcano’ as evidence of Satyricon’s fall from the halls of that Dark Castle in the Deep Forest.
Finally, after four years of silence, Satyricon started bringing those naysayers to heel. No matter how disgruntled ‘Volcano’ may have left us, when listening to ‘Now, Diabolical’ it finally in that even through their slick production and groovy ‘hit singles’ Satyricon are as sinister as ever. In fact, ‘Now, Diabolical’ may even be a step up. Gone are the keyboard arrangements, the acoustic passages, the interludes, all relatively light-hearted exercises. Satyricon has been stripped to the bare bones: Frost’s martial drumming backing Satyr’s dark, persistent riffing and his terse, inimitable snarl.
The formula becomes a rather predictable one over the album’s course, but with an atmosphere this thoroughly bleak the repetition is but a minor detraction. Too, it is also clear that both Frost and Satyr have greatly matured as musicians. While seminal in caliber, their early efforts lacked finesse, while on the other hand one of ‘Now, Diabolical’s greatest strengths is its subtlety. Satyr’s riffs may be less ferocious than the once were, but his light touch and frequent minute bends gives his melodies an unsettling urgency, as if the strings themselves were flexing beneath his fingers. Coupled with his acerbic, spitting vocals and couplet style delivery, ‘Now, Diabolical’ remains harsh and lean even through its catchiest moments (of which there are more than a few).
Having settled on this approach, Satyricon make few deviations. A few songs include supporting horn melodies that fall just short of tongue-in-cheek, but the only real surprise on ‘Now, Diabolical’ is the bonus track, ‘Storm (of the Destroyer)’. Here, Satyricon return to the blastbeats and chaotic riffing we are more familiar with, and do so in fine form. The track is interesting also in that it was co-written by Snorre Ruch—perhaps it is suggestive of Thorns upcoming material? Regardless, the decision to make it a bonus track was a wise one, as its character does not fit in with the surly distemper of the rest of the album and new Satyricon as a whole.
So, as a whole perhaps ‘Now, Diabolical’ is not equal to the majesty or level of influence enjoyed by ‘Dark Medieval Times’, and perhaps it could use a few more songwriting sparks here or there. Yet in the end, it is still a strong outing from a veteran act that is not as toothless as we’ve come to believe. And besides, considering the recent direction of their old compatriots—Varg still in jail, piddling away with his MIDI keyboard and Darkthrone engaging in gangsta-rap style street cred battles with ‘Too Old, Too Cold’—Satyricon’s role as black metal’s sell-out scapegoat is beginning to look rather absurd. ‘Now, Diabolical’, with classic Satyricon focus and force, reminds us that this pair deserve more credit than many of us are willing to give.
2/1/2007 - Review by: Baphomet
Satyricon - Now, Diabolical - 2006 - Roadrunner Records
Now Diabolical could easily be named Volcano Pt.2. The band composed again
rock n’ roll songs, but these songs are not as groundbreaking as Volcano
songs were. It’s like Now Diabolical is a compilation of the left-over of
Volcano. Also another thing that is annoying is that Frost (Satyricon
drummer) has stopped blast beating and has focused on a steady tempo without
any complexity. It’s a shame that a drummer as amazing as Frost has stopped
playing fast and complex.
The production of this album is really good, totally different from
Satyricon past albums production, but it seems useless. The feeling that
Satyricon had is now lost because of this crystal clear production. They
don’t have this dirty feeling of the past. The whole album would sound a lot
better if it had a production like the one Rebel Extravaganza had.
Satyr on vocals is amazing, he uses both grim vocals as he always did but
also clean vocals (not much, don’t worry) which sound really good. The
guitars of this album are less poisonous than they were in the past. The
riffs are less stunning than in the past, the songs leave a deja-vu feeling.
To sum up: Not a big let down, but I just expected something better from a
band like Satyricon. I am a big fan of them and I think that they will get
back on track soon. They deserve to make one mistake (and it wasn’t such a
big deal anyway).
Band’s Performance: 7/10
Reviewer Opinion: 7/10
If you like this release check also: Satyricon-Volcano, Carpathian Forest-F**k you All.
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