Black metal has never been a strong genre for me. I’ve had brief encounters with it from time to time, but I never spent a lot of time with it. Therefore, I am not the most knowledgeable about it, nor am I it’s biggest fan, but once in awhile an album or artist will hold my attention for a time. I have picked up a couple of black metal albums and compilations over the years. The one thing that always struck me about black metal, as opposed to other metal sub-genre’s like hardcore and thrash/speed, was the presence of melody. There is a lot more melody going on in here then in other metal forms, why I could not say, but it’s there. Satyricon’s Volcano is no exception.
Volcano is my first experience with Satyricon, and after my first go through, it was destined to be my last. But, I spun it through a few more times, listening a bit closer and my attitude changed. I started to hear more layers to it, picking out melody lines, little instrument flourishes that would be missed if you didn’t pay close attention. During my first listen, I didn’t pay the attention to it that it requires. All I heard was mass noise from the guitars, constant repetitive drum smashing, and growling vocals. I am not saying this is the be all, end all of black metal, but there is more to it if you listen for it.
The album opens with the aggressive “With Ravenous Hunger.” A decent opening track, gets the adrenalin going. It has some good tempo changes and double bass work, keeps it interesting. This movies into a song, “Angstridden,” that starts with a more traditional metal riffing, before ratcheting up the tempo behind Satyr’s growl. This brings us to possibly the best track on the album, “Fuel for Hatred,” this features complex tempo and rhythm changes and some great drum fills. The album continues it’s path of destruction reaching it’s climax with “Black Lava.” Which continues the trend of rapid fire drumming with a wall of guitar on top of it, good way to finish off the exercise.
This album turned out to be a rewarding musical experience, the more you listen, the more layers will be uncovered. The guitar work is very nice, Satyr creates a wall of noise with the songs melody line buried within waiting to be discovered. The drumming by Frost is fast and furious with moments of greatness with the double bass fills and timing changes. Musically the album is tight, featuring precise timing from all involved creating a well oiled mass which moves with a life of it’s own.
Lyrically, the album is full of anger and hatred. It expresses it’s hatred outward, while retaining a spirit that strengthens the self. An interesting lyrical sense that I can’t claim to understand. I will say that there is an interesting outlook hidden in the words.
Bottomline. While not exactly my speed, there is a lot to like. The craft that went into making this music work is incredible. They may not be at the same level as one of my black metal favorites, Emperor, but they have created a very good album worthy of the black metal fan, or for someone who just may be curious about the style.
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