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“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.