Satyricon, arguably Norway’s most enduring Black Metal institution, have been polarizing audiences for the majority of their 20+ year career, and with ‘Deep Calleth Upon Deep’ the groups 9th studio album, this is a trend that is sure to continue.
‘Midnight Serpent’ serves as a statement of intent. Aggressive and fiery, this is Satyricon 101. Oozing with power and peppered with some absolutely massive “wall of sound” style riffs Satyricon aim straight for the jugular with this mammoth of an opener. Up next is ‘Blood Cracks Open the Ground’ Again, this is a track chock-full of towering riffs and dynamic drumming courtesy of the inimitable Frost. Frenetic yet precise and structurally similar to its predecessor ‘Blood Cracks Open the Ground’ is just one of this record’s many highlights.
Track three ‘To Your Brethren in the Dark’ and we’ve already begun to venture into “Classic Satyricon” territory. A slow and brooding affair that seethes with atmosphere and purpose, group leader Satyr has called ‘To Your Brethren in the Dark’ a flagship moment for the entire record and I would be inclined to agree (if it weren’t for what is to follow). ‘To Your Brethren in the Dark’ may not break new ground musically but I challenge anyone not to be moved by the deliberate forcefulness made manifest here. At its core title track ‘Deep Calleth Upon Deep’ is straight up Black and Roll that easily rubs shoulders with Satyricon standards such as ‘Now Diabolic’, ‘Black Crow On A Tombstone’ or ‘A New Enemy’ but it is the addition of Håkon Kornstad, who’s operatic backing vocals bring an air of etherealness to the entire affair, that makes ‘Deep Calleth Upon Deep’ something truly spectacular.
‘The Ghost of Rome’ bursts forth with a Queens Of The Stone Age’ esque riff. Driving and rhythmic and again accentuated by Håkon Kornstad’s magnificent clean vocals this galloping track is both straightforward and uplifting. ‘Dissonant’ begins with, well, dissonant sax before finding its groove with that dissonant sax (which is low enough in the mix as not to become a distraction) popping up throughout. Structurally complex and aggressive, penultimate track ‘Black Wings and Withering Gloom’ is (for me) the crowning achievement of the entire record. Razor sharp riffs and phenomenal drumming dominate this 7 minute and 11 second juggernaut. 9th and final song ‘Burial Rite’ is measured and commanding. Reminiscent of the grinding Black and Roll featured on the group’s 2002 classic ‘Volcano’ and features an impressive vocal performance by Satyr.
Fans holding out hope for ‘Nemesis Divina II’ will again have their hopes dashed but if you (like me) enjoy the ever evolving nature of Satyricon’s sound then you are most definitely in for a treat. And as is the case with much of Satyricon’s material multiple listens inevitably reveal greatness.
‘Deep Calleth Upon Deep’ is available now through Napalm Records and digitally via Bandcamp
(88/100, Napalm Records)
1. Midnight Serpent 06:21
2. Blood Cracks Open the Ground 04:53
3. To Your Brethren in the Dark 06:08
4. Deep Calleth upon Deep 04:37
5. The Ghost of Rome 04:27
6. Dissonant 04:14
7. Black Wings and Withering Gloom 07:12
8. Burial Rite 05:43