Alongside the frost-bitten sophistication of fellow countrymen Emperor, the career of Norwegian stalwarts Satyricon has thus far been defined by audacity and ambition, rather than pandering to underground elitism. Still guardians of black metal’s nebulous spirit, the likes of 2008’s ‘The Age Of Necro’ or their most recent self titled effort merged their blackened foundations with some imperious rock ‘n’ roll touches, yet even with almost twenty years worth of fearlessly evolving material since, the band are yet to top the hellish intensity of their landmark third full length ‘Nemesis Divina’.
Drawing us into its icy grip with lead off epic ‘The Dawn Of A New Age’, it is immediately apparent why the record is still regarded as a work of quintessential dark hearted genius. Even placing aside the spectacular musicianship on display (drummer extraordinaire Frost particularly impressive with an incessant volley of hyper-sonic blasting), the likes of genre-defining centerpiece ‘Mother North’ and the surging majesty of ‘Immortality Passion’ are glorious examples of how at its best Norwegian black metal is able to tap into the harsh, forbidding landscapes and rich cultural history of its homeland. Indeed, the visions of paganistic ritual and Christian conquest painted by frontman Satyr‘s lyrical poetry remain as enthralling as ever.
Although coming slightly later than the initial flurry of nineties black metal standards, there is little denying that ‘Nemesis Divina’ belongs in the pantheon of genre greats. Proudly holding to its heart the immortal values of Norwegian black metal whilst propelling and refining their beloved subculture, the three piece expanded the template with their sonic and compositional vision.
A spectral storm of instrumental fury and thunderous extremity, this pitch black colossus is as much the demanding, transcendent classic today as it was two decades hence, and deserves upon this re-release to recruit a fresh army of corpse-painted devotees to Satyricon‘s ongoing black metal charge.
Written by Tony Bliss (@TBliss88)