(Andy Synn presents yet another list of his favorite things that come in fives.)
With the recent news that Satyricon frontman Satyr has been diagnosed with a (hopefully benign) brain tumour, I felt now was as good a time as any to wax poetic about my love for the band, and pick out five of my favourite tracks from across their back catalogue.
Once again I’ve tried to stay away from the obvious choices, so you won’t find any mention of “Hvite Krists død” or “Mother North” here, and likewise you’ll also note a distinct absence of the big singles like “Fuel For Hatred” and “K.I.N.G.”.
Still, it’s a testament to the band’s longevity and songwriting prowess that it’s just as easy to pick out any number of other songs that hit the same heights, from across the length and breadth of their creative catalogue, as it is to focus in on their most famous numbers.
“Forhekset” (from Nemesis Divina)
To my mind, and I know full well I’m not alone in this, Nemesis Divina is the album where Satyricon truly set themselves apart from their peers and simultaneously took their first steps on the unique (if divisive) path that they’ve followed ever since. And as much as I love both the preceding albums (and I do), it’s clear that 1996 was the year the band truly started to come into their own.
To me this is nowhere more evident than during the four-and-a-half minute rampage of “Forhekset”, which ditches the “archaic” vibe of the band’s earlier work in favour of a less-typical, but more targeted, stripped-down approach indicative of the band’s newfound brand of groove-heavy, riff-focussed Black Metal menace.
“Filthgrinder” (from Rebel Extravaganza)
Oh, how I love this nasty little gem of a song, drawn from one of the band’s most underrated albums (in my opinion anyway). It’s one of their most outright aggressive and chaotic compositions, always teetering just on the edge of collapsing into complete pandemonium, but kept from falling apart seemingly by virtue of its sheer forward momentum and utter, seething venom.
Absolutely pulsating with Satyr’s signature disharmonic guitar hooks, and with Frost pushing himself almost to the brink of combustion, it’s a shame this one doesn’t get a live airing more often!
“Possessed” (from Volcano)
Remember how I said I like my Satyricon riffy? Well “Possessed” is the band at their guitar-heavy, rifftacular best, make no mistake, even throwing in a knowing wink towards Kill ‘Em All-era Metallica part way through.
“To The Mountains” (from Now, Diabolical)
To me, “To The Mountains” absolutely sums up the band at their most insidiously hypnotic, with the slow unfurling coils of its thick and powerful riffs speaking volumes about the cold, predatory intent behind the song. Satyr’s bleakly menacing vocals, part-spoken, part-snarled, positively drip with poetic poison, and from about one-third of the way through, the song just starts to build and build into an absolute monolith of grim, groove-laden riffage, complete with that irresistible “Ignite – to the mountains!” closing refrain.
“The Infinity of Time and Space” (from Satyricon)
I realise that not everyone was as… effusive… in their appreciation of this album. I have one friend in fact who swears blind that he quite literally tossed the CD out of the window of a moving car, that’s how disgusted he was (hi Matt!). But lyrically and thematically it’s a statement by the band that one era of their career is over, while a new one is just beginning. And this is epitomised by the proggy, introspective intensity of “The Infinity of Time and Space”, reflecting a band looking inwards, more than outwards.
It helps of course that the transformation embodied by this song reminds me a lot of the similar journey first taken by Enslaved so many moons ago, and even more so that it’s still packed with the same sort of brooding, grimly infectious riffs and hooks as always, all tinged with the band’s instantly recognisable black magic touch.
Nice picks. Still can’t get into the new album, which a fucking shame because I consider myself a die-hard Satyricon fan. Good to see some not-so-popular ones like “Possessed” and a shout out to Rebel Extravaganza. I would have added “Black Lava” (I just love Volcano in general) and – especially with winter coming – “Min hyllest til vinterland.” Nothing screams the frozen North like that.
Thanks Andy. Nice article and now I will be spending my day listening to Satyricon.
Never a bad way to spend a day.
And, in all honesty, I probably could have picked all five songs from “Volcano” if I’d wanted to!
Yeah, I figured. If you’re like me, on any given day, my top five for Satyricon would be different.
This band has created some milestones of Black Metal, honestly, your picks are brilliant but I don’t like their latest album except for your choice and personally, the nice and fairy instrumental conclusion “Natt” but thinking about legendary songs I look to their past:
1. The Dawn Of A New Age (Nemesis Divina)
2. Havoc Vulture (Rebel Extravaganza)
3. Repined Bastard Nation (Volcano)
4. Fuel For Hatred (Volcano)
5. To The Mountains (Now, Diabolical)
Am I old if I consider Volcano and Now, Diabolical as “new”?
To me “their past” ended with Rebel Extravaganza.
No sir, you’re not old, for “Nemesis Divina” I would use the term “True Norwegian Black Metal” and “Rebel Extravaganza” is undoubtedly different considering their discography so I agree with you.
I agree with you. They changed big time after Rebel.
Not related to their songs so much, but related to Satyricon – do any of you own a physical copy of the Rebel Extravaganza CD? If so, have you ever placed it in a CD player, and “rewound” the first track to before it starts? What I mean is, start the first song, then hold the reverse button down. Give it a shot.
I do. Now I’m intrigued! What happens?
Haha, ok I’ll spill the beans for anyone here who can’t do it. There’s about 2 minutes of atmospheric and ambient sounds.
Interesting… I’ll have to give it a try after work.
“Filthgrinder” is so badass 🙂
Where is Hvite Krists Død?
Shame on you! 😉
Sometimes it helps to actually READ before posting a reply.
I was in a hurry that day, but still… that was a bit barred.
On the other hand, there are obvious reasons to why a bands best song ever should find its way to any list, regardless of it being “so obvious that it goes without saying”.
(Or that’s just a stupid excuse, and I’m still fucking barred).
Can´t argue with your picks and Rebel Extravaganza really is a underrated gem. I have to admit, that i never gave the last album a honest chance …
Satyricon is one of the rare undisputed great prophets of the scene, i love all their albums..
just allow me to share my current favourites;
1- My Skin Is Cold
2- Walker Upon The Wind
3- Tied In Bronze Chains
4- Dominions Of Satyricon
5- Black Lava (of course, gotta love this one)
Good stuff, please keep doing these “Five” posts. I’ve never listened to much Satyricon before, so this is a great introduction. I especially liked “To the Mountains”, I got a bit of a To Mega Therion vibe (lumbering riffs, dire horns)…
Always thought of newer Satyricon as very underrated by the “trve” metalheads, I’ve enjoyed everything from the first album to the last.
My top five:
1. Repined Bastard Nation
2. With Ravenous Hunger
4. Ageless Northern Spirit
5. To the Mountains
Not even sure I needed to ignore “Mother North” etc.
Just got around to reading this post, had it bookmarked for ages. I really really enjoyed the selection, though I think it would have been nice to hear one from Dark Medieval Times too!
I actually bought Satyricon’s last album because of a post on this blog some time ago, and quite enjoy it! I’m curious to see what will be coming next, it also reminds me of Enslaved’s tranformation.