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Now, Satyr's Cynical - 75%

Meatbreak, July 5th, 2006

Satyricon must be the only Black Metal band to actually court popularity and go out of their way to find a wider audience. I find this approach to such a marginalised genre appealing, amusing and positive - again, alien attributes to such a misanthropic, humorless cult of musicians. Satyr has never made any bones about his desire to be the biggest band on the planet and has tried to work his way up the billings of many large metal festivals that would not usually feature the blacker arts on their line-ups. He has succeeded, of course.

With Volcano, they seemed like they were headed in the right direction for world domination, filled as it was, with dark grooves and danceable riffs - nothing to thrashy, harsh or occult. Fuel For Hatred really should have been a sunday tea-time charter, born from the purest rock and roll, then welded onto a menacing atmosphere. With Now, Diabolical, Satyr has insited on using the same, never changing, tempo for each track (not the whole album, different tracks, different tempos), and working with rhythm to create the effect of changing speeds. Possibly this approach has had a negative impact on the album. Whilst K.I.N.G., The Pentagram Burns and To The Mountains have a fair momentum behind them, Frosts drumming is never truly allowed to let rip as it has been before, and you can feel the guitars straining at the leash against the restraint Satyr has forced on them. Maybe this album is too clean and too restrained - a bit of dirt and impetuousness is present in the biggest arena filling bands, so it's not an element that needs to be left out in order to achieve that kind of status. But then, this is also the approach that gives this album an originality and freshness that is all to absent in most other releases of this kind – Black Metal of Norwegian origins. There is much repetition here, in the vocal elements as well as the guitars. Delirium for instance is the ultimate repetitive chorus, simply repeating the word over a simple slightly fuzzy riff that slowly bends, rather than shifts. The album serves as more of a languorous drone than any empire baiting hellstorm and maybe it is cynical of me to assume the whole conceit of this album is designed to shift numbers big time, but Satyr has been very candid about this, and it's also pretty clear from the development of Satyricon's sound these last few albums.

This is by no means a harsh album, and if ever BM could get close to Pop, then this must be the closest it’s ever come.