Satyricon - _Now, Diabolical_
(Roadrunner Records, 2006)
by: James Montague (
I must confess, I am prone to hyperbole when I discuss music, especially when discussing the negative aspects of a work. Furthermore, I do take some delight in tearing down the big names, alienating many an Opeth fan along the way. There is a voice in my head that tells me I should be more even-handed when writing reviews, and impart fair critical analysis upon big upcoming releases. But I just can't help myself: this new Satyricon album is a fucking joke. It was morbid fascination that drew me to _Now, Diabolical_. I have detested everything the band released since _Nemesis Divina_, yet this time the initial reaction in cyberspace was scathing even amongst perpetual fans. The pre-release press statements pointed to song titles such as "The Pentagram Burns" as evidence that the band was going back to their roots and reigniting the flame. It was a recipe for disaster like none other, so I drove away from the ten-car pileup that had kept me entertained all morning and decided instead to find out what abominations Satyr had committed against his once-exalted status. My initial reaction to the opening track was a snort of derision. Yes, an actual, audible snort. The first riff sounded like a third-rate Metallica cover band trying to write their first song before quickly realising they lacked the creative spark. Very, very tired rock chords are the order of the day, yet oddly Satyr continues to utilise black metal vocals, lacking in conviction as they are. The insipid songwriting even manages to make Frost appear an ordinary drummer, banging loudly on the snare like an obnoxious two-year-old who just found a saucepan and spoon. If you listen closely, you can actually hear him making plans for his royalty cheque and sending text messages to his girlfriend. You can't blame him for not putting too much into _Now, Diabolical_, as no amount of percussive wizardry can save the godawful tunes. In a nutshell, _Now, Diabolical_ is to black metal what Pantera's "Walk" was to thrash -- dumbed down, devoid of spirit, anti-musical, loved by rednecks. Positives? Well, there is one good riff on the album: groovy, with an ominous brass backing track. It's also the last riff on the album, which makes me wonder what the band were playing at for the first 40-odd minutes. In typical Satyr fashion, though, this one good riff is flogged shamelessly like so many dead horses. Released a few good albums? Then release a stream of EPs with shitty remixes of the best tunes and some live performances recorded by a dude in the toilets with a voicenotes-enabled mobile phone. Written a good riff? Then play it a few hundred times until the listener, on the verge of saying something nice, decides to kick you in the teeth again. So essentially what I'm saying is, Satyricon even manages to make good riffs suck. Ah, how the mighty have fallen. I must admit, it gives me a tingling sensation in the groin to hear just how low Satyr will go. But it's time to put the guy out of his misery, so when this album comes out at the end of April 2006, please don't buy it.[Jackie Smit: "Speaking as a fan of Satyricon's post _Nemesis Divina_ output, it's surprising to find _Now, Diabolical_ taking a decidedly more conservative approach than its predecessors. Where the band's last two albums scored big points by tossing out the rules and taking chances, _Now, Diabolical_ plays it safe, taking its cue from 2002's _Volcano_ and rarely deviating from its blueprint. At its best this yields some entertaining results, but likewise the faults on this effort are more glaringly obvious and one can't shake the feeling that perhaps his relative success has made Satyr Wongraven grow just a bit lazy."]
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