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Generally considered one of black metal's greatest albums, "Nemesis Divina" presented various elements that were generally uncommon within the black metal scene at the time. This made the album a quintessential stepping stone on the road that would make Satyricon one of the most enduring black metal bands of the 90's and would make black metal make its next step. Satyricon's expression is in constant motion in "Nemesis Divina" and looking back on the release, it is evident that black metal found its turning point on the new elements of this record.
Released by now defunct Moonfog Productions on the 22nd of April 1996, "Nemesis Divina" was Satyricon's third full-length, after classics "The Shadowthrone" and "Dark Medieval Times". "Nemesis Divina" was recorded by Satyr (Sigurd Wongraven) and Frost (Kjetil-Vidar Haraldstad) featuring also a new addition to the lineup, Kveldulv, better known as Nocturno Culto (Ted Skjellum) of Darkthrone. The album also had guests Nebelhexe (Andrea Meyer) performing the spoken part on "The Dawn of a New Age" and Geir Bratland performing all synthesizer and grand piano sections we hear on the album. The whole group of musicians already had released several works, so this would be an album comprised of musicians that, not only had created some of black metal's most memorable albums but also had their minds set on creating something that would re-define the genre that they had pioneered years before. It should also be noted, lyrics for "Du som hater Gud" were written by Fenriz (Gylve Nagell) also of Darkthrone.
The first element that would set "Nemesis Divina" apart as something new would be its cover art - no longer do we stare at a "rorschach like" frame of black and white imagery. Corpse paint is no longer featured in the cover, there are no poses being made in a wintry landscape amidst a forest in flame's hue. Rich with color and symbolism, the artwork designed by Halvor Bodin and Stein Løken was breaking new ground, setting Satyricon on a path that would set them apart from black metal's well-established niche well before the potential listener would even ear the album.
Black metal by this point wasn't all about Satanism. The previous year, Satyricon's "The Forest Is My Throne" was featured in a cooperative released with Enslaved's "Yggdrasill", containing lyrics glorifying Norway's landscapes, myths and heritage. "Nemesis Divina" continued this tradition, not only embodying its cover art with symbolism but also making several statements during the course of the whole work, affirming glories from the north's past and enflaming anti-Christian mottos - "Nemesis divina splinten i øyet på jehova sager, Nemesis divina kniven i hjertet på guds sønn" can be taken from lyrics of the title song "Nemesis Divina".
Indeed the music within the album embodies a divine sense of retribution and a wrath beyond that possessed by any common man. Nemesis, is usually connoted to the concept of an arch-enemy, however it is also according to Greek mythology, the spirit of divine retribution against those who succumb to arrogance before the gods. Most practitioners of black metal implied that Christianity had impacted the Norse gods and traditions with extreme arrogance, and this usually fueled the anti-Christian themes of most of these acts, this release was no exception. "Nemesis Divina" truly stands as a beacon to these sentiments. Úlfhéðnar are described as "Odin's special warriors", men that were mad as wolves, these slayers of other men that were neither hurt by fire nor iron, these were berserker (now know as berserks). Snorri Sturluson, an Icelandic poet and historian that lived in the XIIIth century, believed that these mens' connotation as berserker, were associated with warriors that went into battle bare-chested, or "without armor" as men of Odin, and Satyricon truly stand bare-chested in their defense of Mother North.
The production values of the album also differs from what was common in the "Norwegian scene" of the time, no longer is the listener faced with a constant "hum" that would permeate the whole record, everything is clear, however keeping an aesthetic sense that is undeniably black metal in its aspiration and intent. The recording was made in Waterfall Studios, where Storm's "Nordavind" and Wongraven's "Fjelltronen" were also recorded. This previous experience has surely influenced the new approach that was taken in "Nemesis Divina". The same studio would later record Satyricon's "Intermezzo II".
From the furious blast-beats of "Mother North" to the piano sections of "Du Som Hater Gud" and the industrial elements found in "Transcendental Requiem of Slaves", "Nemesis Divina" provides its listener with a lesson on the defining aspects of black metal to that point, and hints on the future of the genre and what black metal would evolve to in years to come.
Originally posted on http://shrineofmadlaughter.blogspot.pt
Often overshadowed by their larger than life contemporaries Darkthrone and Emperor, Satyricon was nevertheless able to carve out a highly esteemable position amongst the Norwegian ranks of the 2nd wave, offering up a raw yet grandiose sound that couldn't help but resemble a curious middle ground between the 2 aforementioned bands. It's a fairly strange marriage of sound when one considers that Darkthrone is widely know for their barebones simplicity and rigid orthodoxy, whereas Emperor took on an esoteric and wildly progressive take on things, perhaps being surpassed only by Enslaved in their level of technical extravagance. But Satyr and company somehow manage to make all the pieces fit together, and it culminates wondrously in their 3rd and magnum opus "Nemesis Divina", and album that can arguably be looked upon as the end of the glory period of the 2nd wave and a final aftershock following the turmoil that the scene witnessed in the mid 90s.
The friction between the two extremes that have influenced this album is unrelenting, yet masterfully contained and focused so as to hit the ears with a concentrated dose of auditory violence. At the very onset of "The Dawn Of A New Age", a slamming blow of frosty chords beat down the walls like Thor's hammer, in a manner not all that dissimilar from what was employed on "A Blaze In The Northern Sky", but unlike said early classic this beast piles on layers of keyboard sounds and is a good bit more technical in its riffing approach. It's not quite as fluid and blurred as Samoth's and Ihsahn's twin guitar assault, and even takes on a rugged thrashing character similar to Demonaz's work on "Pure Holocaust", but it definitely comes close to hitting the same pinnacle that was grasped on "In The Nightside Eclipse". If there is any downside to this song, it's that Satyr put it at the beginning rather than the end, since it pretty well sums up the overall character of the early 90s Norwegian sound.
The further things go, the deeper into the mystic ether the album proceeds, throwing a variety of differing musical devices that have since become staples of the genre. The intro of "Forhekset" conjures up future images of the sort of post-rock freeflow typical of Agalloch, though it is almost instantly supplanted by a battery of cold guitar riffs and chaotic drum work typical to the mid 90s sound. One area where Satyricon may have a slight edge over their intended objects of emulation (namely Emperor and Enslaved) is that they've gone even further into the through-composed realm, having contrasting ideas hitting the ears with even greater frequency than "Anthems To The Welkin At Dusk", not to mention that the closing section of "Forhekset" explores the folksy realm in a manner more befitting of Windir or Moonsorrow. It gets to the point that one has to resort to repeating the song before even getting to the next just to try and fully comprehend all the ideas that have flown out of Satyr's guitars and the keys.
The rest of the album follows the same general pattern of finding even more unique ways of confounding the listener's expectations while still sticking to a standardized formula, but the absolute zenith of the fold proves to be "Mother North". In much the same fashion as the spellbinding gloryride that was Emperor's "Into The Infinity Of Thoughts", this thing literally teleports all who hear it into a haze steeped forest of wonder amid the winter bitten mountains of Norway at dusk. The song itself cycles through a series of faster and slower sections, but the principle theme features a relentless blasting fury out of Frost that somehow surpasses Faust on the insanity factor, and adds an addition luster to the streaming tremolo riffs and majestic keyboard voicings. Poet Robert Frost penned in his work "Fire And Ice" that a cold death would be a less desired end for the world, but one would be easily swayed by this Nordic trio to think differently when considering the glory present on here.
Apart from a somewhat bizarre element of studio gimmickry on the last couple of songs that don't really seem necessary, this is pretty much flawless by the standards of 2nd wave black metal with a symphonic tinge to it, and by far the most compelling and astounding work that Satyricon has offered up. Anyone who was taken in by "In The Nightside Eclipse" and "A Blaze In The Northern Sky" will be easily swayed by this one, and I have personally even found myself preferring this slightly to the latter. It acts as something of a bridge that connects the next generation of bands such as Limbonic Art, Odium, nay even Darkspace to the grand tradition that was conceived in the 90s by Emperor, yet also acts as a reminder to the newer generation that the mystique of the style lay in its low-fi production practices, and it definitely exhibits the same tendencies that Darkthrone has continued to cleave to until this very day. "Nemesis Divina" is, for lack of any better description, timeless, and deserves all the praise it has received.
Nemesis Divina is an album I truly wrestled with in the previous decade. Upon its release, many of my friends took to it instantly. It was one of the most popular black metal works among the (admittedly) small circle of fans at University, but I remained steadfast and unimpressed for years. For some reason, I just didn't grasp it...I felt it to be chaotic, disjointed and unmemorable. Ambitious, perhaps, but lacking that secret something.
In hindsight, I must have had a bit of a gray matter leak, because years later, as I was in a recording studio myself, "Mother North" came on the stereo during a snack break. I instantly recognized the song, but then, before indifference could sink in, it finally just dawned me. Damn. From that point on, I dusted off my hard copy and it re-entered my regular rotation, and it has since become my favorite release from Satyr and Frost.
Nemesis Divina is a lot of things. It's atmospheric. It's pretty complex (at least when compared to most black metal of the era). It's evil, but at the same time, majestic. It stands at that precise crossroad where the raw and wicked, unrefined sounds of the black metal underground met the larger studio budget works that were only being produced by a few bands of the genre at the time. This was a record which was nearly at the level of a Transilvanian Hunger, or In the Nightside Eclipse. And yet, it is more accessible than either, with a sensitivity for melody and light synth touches that add only a malleable depth to its bevy of savage riffs, which stuck at you like the pinions of ravens' feathers.
Better late than ignorant forever.
"The Dawn of a New Age" is fittingly titled, as a few lurching chords strike like red rays of clouded sunrise before the cry This is Armageddon.... and what follows is a beautiful, glistening nuclear holocaust of Frost blasts and well written guitars, like the infectious passage at the 1:50 mark. Satyr is assisted in the guitars here by Nocturno "Kvelduv" Culto, of Darkthrone, so it was only a matter of time before I submitted. "Forhekset" kicks in for a brief volley of acoustics before a truly leveling rhythm of hellish, thick melody. The guitars writhe below the verse and bridge, along a demonic current that transforms the heart into ash. As with most of the album, the synthesizers here are very minimal, used only to create an elevation behind particular rhythms, and never central. "Mother North" hardly needs an introduction, as one of the more popular Norse black metal tracks in history. The rhythm guitars bleed here, both the glorious lifeblood of the land. Sinister, biting like the wind, burdened below the transcendent synthesizers and clean intonations of the backing vocals. Even through its latter half, each new riff provides a desolate and thundering layer to the charge. "Du Som Hater Gud" features lyrics that were written for Satyr by the other half of Darkthrone, the immortal Fenriz, and the track is more of an eerie, straightforward black metal peace, still adorned with serpentine riffing and some fine piano touches near the climax.
"Immortality Passion" is festooned with symphonic bombast and warlike drum battering, over the sneer of gently crashing cymbals and a twisted, hypnotic guitar rhythm. The percussion and anthemic march of the bridge mark some of the more glorious moments on the album. "Nemesis Divina" itself is perhaps the most grim piece on the album, with Frost's calculated chaos and some jarring, sawing riffs that slice right through the ghostly atmospheric keyboards. The track picks up into kinetic violence, an excellent slew of riffs which conjure up the aggression of fast 80s speed/thrash. "Transcendental Requiem of Slaves" marks the closure to this epic beast, an instrumental with some lush guitar work that culminates in mesmerizing, hypnotic chords and synths that lead you off into the dusk.
Nemesis Divina is far closer to the style of its predecessors (Dark Medieval Times and The Shadowthrone) than anything the band has released since. While I'm a fan of their modern, black rock impulses, making for some vile grooves, I can't help but feel this album was the pinnacle of their output. The irony that the object of such initial indifference has grown into my go-to Satyricon record is not lost upon me. It's a damn fine record, and being wrong rarely turns out this well.
Highlights: The Dawn of a New Age, Forhekset, Mother North, Immortality Passion, Transcendental Requiem of Slaves
“This Is Armageddon!”; a fitting proclamation to the beginning of a landmark black metal album entitled “Nemesis Divina”. Satyricon, the warriors at the forefront of the Norwegian black metal scene have struck again with an album of staggering importance and true blackened genius. The core of Satyr and Frost are joined by another legend of the black metal scene in Nocturno Culto of Darktrhone on guitars. Together, the trio of black metal royalty created one of the best albums to come out of Norway and grace the metal world.
Satyricon waste no time blasting the listener into submission right from the start in opener “The Dawn of a New Age”. Once Satyr’s famous opening line is finished Frost begins his blasting like there is no tomorrow. Nocturno Culto’s influence is also immediately heard, as the opening riff displays a fast tremolo picked, darkly melodic line that would not sound out of place on a Darktrhone album. The guitars are especially outstanding on this song, since riff after riff are classic black metal parts. Satyr’s voice continues to howl like the cold Norwegian wind. The track speeds along until the halfway point where the entire band drops out, leaving a clean guitar with effects that plays a relaxing, almost trance-like line. Just when you being to feel at ease the band returns to their blasting fury with yet again another classic guitar part.
Then comes the colossal “Mother North”, arguably the band’s best song ever and one of the best black metal anthems too. “Mother North” provides the perfect balance between chaos and structure, melody and ferocity, and does so at such an epic scale that it puts most likeminded bands to shame. This song really exemplifies what good Norwegian black metal is all about as it has many components that build on each other to create a larger than life composition. This song, as with all the others on this album, creates the ideal atmosphere that black metal strives to achieve; one of epic proportions and bleakness. The amount of emotion and passion portrayed in this song and the album is also amazing. This song starts with another classic guitar line that is backed by Frost’s manic blasting and an epic synth section. The band then briefly slows down from blasting to let Satyr spew out his venomous rasps with a backing choral section, creating a majestic yet sorrowful atmosphere. The guitars, drums, and synth section continue to explore the epic and sorrowful atmosphere, alternating between mid-paced marching and full on blasting.
It would take too much time to point out every song here because they are all excellent black metal songs. The two tracks that I discussed were my favorites on the album, but there are no relatively bad tracks on Nemesis Divina. The quality of the material remains consistent and does not lose focus or inspiration over the course of the album. The way in which each song is great in its own right only adds appeal to this album because unlike their more recent albums, Nemesis Divina keeps your attention for the whole album without any effort. You are so drawn into the music that you can’t help listening the whole way through.
On this album Frost proves why he is one of black metal’s greatest drummers. It is an absolute treat listening to him song after song. He shows that he has excellent stamina with his lengthy blasting and double bass sections but knows precisely when to let up as to not dominate the other instruments or the song itself. His cymbal work and fills are both tasteful and plentiful, since he likes to mix things up and knows what wonders variety can do when it comes to keeping the listener’s attention. He knows what the song requires and varies his intensity accordingly, creating dynamic feelings throughout.
Satyr and Nocturno Culto both provide excellent guitar parts throughout the entire album. They play chaotic, flowing, darkly melodic lines that create a cold and unforgiving atmosphere. Not only are the riffs of the highest quality, but also the way that they are arranged only helps them stand out more. They evolve with the changing moods and build on top of each other to create something huge.
Nemesis Divina stands out as Satyricon’s crowning achievement and also one of black metal’s best albums for a variety of reasons. Three of the most highly regarded black metal musicians banded together and created the best work of their careers. The songwriting is excellent, creating big compositions that contain one great part after another. The songs seamlessly move from chilling fast parts to the slower atmospheric sections. The album flows really well from song to song, arranged in a way that keeps the listener’s attention. Satyricon were able to create a big and chilling atmosphere fitting of the expansive forests of Norway. The production of the album was very good at the time and sounded more like a cinematic soundtrack than something recorded in a cave. With its release in 1996, Nemesis Divina did not bring anything new to the black metal table, but it remains one of the hallmarks of the genre due to its excellent musicianship, songwriting, and atmosphere.
What I mean by the topic is that to me this was the last interesting and important album from Satyricon. Even though I still buy their new releases the band dosen´t feel that important or interesting to me today. It is, to say it in a metal way, sad but true.
This album is a showcase of Norwegian black metal at its best as it has all the important parts. The atmosphere that dwells within the songs on this album is absolutely brilliant. Cold, grim and evil without disturbing the sound which is full and perfect for the material on here. There is no doubt that Satyr is one of the most talented songwriters to emerge from Norway and every song on this album is proof to this statement. Intellegent riffs and melodies arranged to create songs...no hymns of purest northern black metal. I am sure that there are purists outthere who cannot stand this album as it is very gentle to the ears but i say f**k that! The album is diverce but still very compact in a strange way. The fast and hateful parts perfectly complements the slower more bombastic or epic parts in a perfect manner. Also this is one of the few albums where keyboards are used in a sensible manner which means that they are never allowed too much room. The voice of Satyr is absolutely brilliant in its strange mix between Quorthon and Abbath. I guess that you already know but still: Frost is as always brilliant hammering out the hatred with a never ending strength. This album shows that he is a talented drummer that can play within ranges of black metal and that he is more than a static blast-machine.
To end this: "Nemesis Divina" is a mandatory release for any black metal metal fan outthere. This album has something for anyone no matter if you´re a Mayhem or Emperor-fan. It has brute strength and hatein songs like "Du Som Hater Gud" and it also have bombastic/epic numbers like the classic "Mother North". In other words this album has it all. If you do not own it already you must buy it now!
Satyricon has always impressed me by their ability to produce great-sounding black metal without sounding repetitive like many other black metal bands. They vary their melodies, riffs, even the vocals seem slightly different at times. This album definitely represents this very well.
The album starts off with "The Dawn of a New Age". The song starts off rather calmly and even with some keyboards and after the first vocals, "THIS IS ARMAGEDDON", the song explodes and the riffs that follow the next few seconds are truly excellent. The song remains bombastic throughout its whole. The melodies also change toward the latter parts of the song. A black metal classic.
"Forhekset" a shorter song clocking in at only 4:31, starts off very nicely with some acoustic guitar and a nice sound effect before the heavy guitars and bombastic drums kick in. The melodies remain the same until about 2:40 when the song gets slightly more melodic and much more enjoyable. Satyr's vocals on here are also very well done. Not the best song on the album, but still great.
"Mother North" is truly an amazing song, has a very dark black metal feeling, more so than the rest of the songs, is heavy throughout, has great lyrics, great vocals, heavy guitars, continuing bombastic drumming. This is just a perfect black metal song, one of the best out there. Satyricon really has to be congratulated on this achievement.
"Du Som Hater Gud" is another relatively short song clocking in at 4:21. The opening riffs are simply amazing; they are fierce yet sound slightly melodic giving it the black metal feel. I love Satyr's vocals here, and its mainly because the lyrics are in Norwegian. Its very good when a band sings in their native language because it adds to the atmosphere and most of the time the language goes along better with the music than English. Another classic.
"Immortality Passion" starts off with a rather odd melody and some keyboards giving you a little feeling of evil which is exactly what it should be doing. Around 1:00, we get melodic riffs back in and some of the melody from the first few seconds of the song is heard. Absolutely perfect combination, this almost gives you the feeling like you are in some medieval castle with an evil Queen that wants to poison everyone in the kingdom, which brings me to another aspect of the album, Satyricon's music is very atmospheric, and it brings many images into your mind if you are listening closely, definitely another plus in my book. Almost as if Satyr wants to make us think.
“Nemesis Divina” starts off heavily right away with Satyr’s vocals being in Norwegian on this song too. While this song is very heavy and dark it fails to capture my attention as much as the other songs, although the riffs right after Satyr’s evil laugh at 0:40 are pretty great.
“Transcendental Requiem Of Slaves” is a very nice instrumental, not too bombastic, pretty melodic, it sets a very nice mood, and is definitely a great closing to a fantastic album.
Overall this is one of if not Satyricon’s best album. They have now lost focus on what made them so great, even though they are still a good band. If anyone wants to look into this band, you should listen to this album first as it gives you a good idea of what Satyricon is about. This is also a must have to all black metal fans.
Nemesis Divina has to be the best Black Metal album ever!
OK with that out of the way may the real review begin.
This has to be the most impresive piece of music I've had the pleasure of listening and believe me I've listened to a lot of Metal. Honestly I'm blown away by that album each time I hear it.
..... so how does it sound? Well my friends, Satyr and company have managed to create one of the most amazing Black Metal albums ever and for those of you who think that's easy your oh so very wrong, a Black Metal album involves not only good music and talented musicians but also a very special atmosphere that most of today's musicians just can't create; something that requires more than incredible technique, something special, something magical, something that Satyricon shure as Hell could do on this album.
This album could be described as a fast, agressive and epic Black Metal album with a lot of Medieval influences as well as some folkish ones, the sound is raw but it manages to sound clear enough so that it can be apreciated.
The band makes use of classic tremolo riffs as well as other techniques to create some of the most incredible Black Metal melodies ever, while the light-speed drums provided by Frost and the grim singing by Satyr help to create an even more agressive sound; on the other side the keyboards add a more atmospheric as well as a more epic touch to the band's sound helping to create a great balance between rawness and atmosphere, thing that makes this such an amazing Black Metal album.
Satyricon have created a masterpiece for centuries to come, nothing can compare to what Satyricon have created here (with the exception of Emperor's Anthems to the Welkin at Dusk album of course which is as good as this one), not anything released ever has the sheer power, grimness, hatred and coldness you'll find in this album, it has it all; want lightning fast drums? Frost shure knows how to deliver them; want epic riffs with beautiful melodies that will stick in your head forever? Satyr and Kveldulv (A.K.A. Nocturno Culto of Darkthrone fame) shure know how to make the word epic sound miserable with what they manage to do with their guitars here; perfectly armonised epic atmospheric keyboards you say? not a problem, and the voice? well I can only think of one word here....grim as hell.
Also the lyrics fit perfectly in this amazing album as well as the killer artwork and cover, what else do you want?
From the first track to the last one this is a masterpiece so I say buy or die.
Did I mention that Mother North is a fuckin' anthem?