Masters of all things dark and grvm, Norwegian black metal outfit Satyricon are back once again with their brand new release “Deep Calleth Upon Deep”. Following in the stripped back footsteps of the band’s 2013 self-titled album, OVERDRIVE ventures into what make this Oslo duo’s latest endeavour one of the quirkiest yet darkest releases of the year.
Straight off the bat, the laid back beats and captivating riffs of ‘Midnight Serpent’ caught me left of field. The band’s approach to the ‘Black ‘n Roll’ genre not only showcases how far Satyricon have come musically, but also shows a level of fearlessness in creating something fresh and exciting when stacked up against their peers. The repeated vocal phrasings of the first track were stuck in my head days after my first listen through, and I was pleased to find that they were an element that continued heavily throughout the album. This brings me to my first point of why this album is nothing short of a modern masterpiece. There is no point where any instrument is overbearing or takes too much of the spotlight. Everything is so meticulously placed and the attention to detail always serves the overall song rather being a show off of talent. The guitars and drums are as much the lead instrument as the vocals, and the whole instrumental section works in this perfect cohesion that just makes the overall album much more interesting.
The second track, “Blood Cracks Open the Ground“, is where I feel the album really breaks open to its own little world, and sets the feel and mood for the remainder of the album. The unconventional riffs and patterns laid down by the longstanding mastermind of the band Sigurd ‘Satyr’ Wongraven are a fresh and fitting feel compared to the relentless tremelo picking that generally dominates the style. The odd melodies that flow throughout are captivating and bohemian, especially when paired with the matching synths that mirror the leads throughout. The drumming of Kjetil-Vidar Haraldstad (known by his stage name ‘Frost’) creates a canvas for the rest of the instruments to unfold upon, particularly during the off time sections featured in the previously mentioned track. The song “Deep Calleth Upon Deep” showcases some of the best writing in the whole album, with its 70s disco-like chorus shining through as one of the most interesting things I’ve heard in recent times. Another fine example of the band’s boldness is the inclusion of many ‘out of the norm’ instruments. The Mellotron, Contrabassoon and Saxophone all make appearances throughout the album, adding an extra dimension to any section the band felt needed it.
The production is also something that really helps this album find its identity. The lo-fi approach doesn’t sound cliché or try hard, but instead gives life to the record, aiding the listener in immersing themselves in the music. By the time the intro of “Dissonant” blasted through the speakers, I had to double check I was still listening to Satyricon and not an experimental jazz album. This track later evolves into a return to form, featuring the fast double kicks and blast beats that put the band on the map, all while continuing the unorthodox riffage that makes this album such an exhilarating listen. This trend continues well into the next song, “Black Wings and Withering Gloom“, which is by far the most ‘trve kvlt’ track on the album. At this point of the album though, the change to a faster pace feels quite refreshing, especially when the record climaxes with its closer Burial Rite, which is far more akin to the first half of the album. Repeat listens quickly took place, trying to uncover all of the hidden layers scattered throughout the album (of which there are plenty). I’ve no doubt this album will feature highly on my end of year list, and if taking a dive into the obscene is for you, then Satyricon’s latest opus will no doubt capture you in the same way.