Release DetailsLABEL Century Media
RELEASED ON 6/13/2006
posted on 5/2006 By:
Satyricon is a well known black metal band and they write pretty interesting black metal songs, but the method of recording these songs is somewhat limp. Which is unfortunate, but not a deal breaker, especially to fans of the genre.
The songs are simple, with interesting and exciting guitar work. They move well, rarely becoming monotonous thanks to the mixture of straight rock pounding and thrashy blasting. This is, after all, one of the bigger acts in the niche. They got where they are by delivering the goods in a way that appeals to non BM purists without alienating their cult base. These motherfuckers know what they are doing. The band is tight and intense. Although they are not winning musician of the year awards, that is not an issue. They do what they do well enough to make the music they want to make.
But, again, the production is somewhat flat. I guess it’s expected, really. It’s a clear job, but the bass especially sounds amateurish and gutless. To be fair, other people I have talked to find nothing wrong with the sound of this disc, which disheartens me, but in the end I am not a big black metal fan anyways. I just like to hear heavy metal, and the way this record is presented kind of sucks the heavy out of the whole deal. One thing is certain: the guitar is very well recorded. If you are going to get one thing right in metal, that would be it.
And that is the bottom line. Black metal can be very heavy, but as often as not isn’t and I can’t tell you why. So if you like your production subpar, or if it at least doesn’t bother you, this is a really cool disc. A little tweaking and I would love it to pieces, but I doubt the band wants guys like me to enjoy them to pieces. They know what they are doing. And they have not, I have no doubt, dissappointed their target audience with Now, Diabolical.
posted on 5/2006 By:
One of the worst and least intelligent cop-outs metal fans, or should I say fanboys, use when coming to the defense of one of their favorite bands who release an obviously sub-par, lackluster album is the “you're just being close-minded” excuse. And yes, it is an excuse, folks (Transgression, anyone?). Contrary to popular belief, metal fans are much more open to change then many give us credit for. My own appreciation for Satyricon admittedly borders on fanboyism, as the design from the Rebel Extravaganza disc eternally scarred in ink on my right calf is testament enough to my loyalty. Black metal as a whole was stagnating terribly at the turn of the century, so of course it was inevitable for survival’s sake that black metal bands either evolve, or die. I understand that.
That said, Now, Diabolical is the very first Satyricon album that hasn’t wowed me even slightly in any capacity, and it hurts me to type that. In almost every aspect, this album misses out on some of the crucial elements that made Satyricon such a brilliant and unique entity to begin with. The toning down of more extreme musical avenues isn’t the issue, and neither is the scaled-back tempo. It’s the songwriting, plain and simple, and something is dreadfully missing in that department. One of the things that made this band interesting in the first place was their ability to write slower material that was actually more compelling and creative than their blasting works. On this album, many of the tracks are completely interchangeable, and oddly tedious for the very first time. The dynamics that separated this duo from their counterparts have been stripped so far down to their bare bones, it almost feels, to me, like they’ve hit a creative glass ceiling that appears to have peaked somewhere during the course of the Volcano album.
Intensity comes in many forms, and to say Now, Diabolical isn’t an intense Satyricon disc would be a misguided statement. It’s definitely their slowest and most brooding overall, and the faster songs such as the title track, and “The Rite Of Our Cross” never reach the velocity of “The Scorn Torrent”, or “Filthgrinder”, but again that’s quite alright. The seething malice of Satyr’s raspy snarl is firmly intact, as hateful and bitter as ever, so there’s nothing to worry about as far as that goes. Likewise, the God of Battery, Frost is his usual phenomenal self. Flashy, substantial and entertaining all at once, he still has that knack for pounding out groove and aggression the likes of which the triggered many will never hope to be able to reproduce. The players can still play just as badass as ever, and they show it often, as if it was really a question at all.
As much as I’ve grown to love this album as a fan, as a critic, there are a few things I just can’t let pass by. For one, the guitar tone is as flat and questionable as Paris Hilton wearing a wet burlap bag while attempting to play it off as haute couture. I’d never be so insulting as to call Satyricon the Prada of black metal, or any other trendy designer for that matter. In fact, they’ve morphed themselves into a very meat-and-potatoes metal band that doesn’t rely on glitz, bells or whistles, or ornate garnishments to get their point across. Sadly though, it sounds like they’re no longer concerned with challenging themselves as songwriters either, because what Now, Diabolical lacks in pomposity, it also lacks in innovation, which is a first for this legendary outfit.
Satyricon have grown into a more calculated, epic-sounding unit than many of us have grown to know and adore, and their refusal to pigeonhole themselves into whatever mold based on what others think black metal should be is something I admire greatly. But Now, Diabolical simply plods and limps along for the most part, and if you can find the release that features the absolutely ballistic bonus track "Storm (Of The Destroyer)", grab it quickly, because why such a ripping blast of a tune was left off some versions is totally baffling. The rest of the material is too frustratingly mid-paced, anticlimactic, and rather overly-simplified, and if this was supposed to represent a “less is more” aesthetic, they went a bit overboard on the “less” side. I’m not digging out a thesaurus over this one, because Satyricon deserve something more respectful than a sugarcoating, ass-kissing fanboy making excuses for them. Now, Diabolical is just bland, and there's no reason to spice this up for the sake of providing entertaining reading at their expense. I’m hoping this is just a creative dry spell they’re going through, because while the fan in me can forgive the unremarkable songwriting quality and less than fantastic production, the critic in me cannot, hence my score.
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