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Whilst Rebel Extravaganza might have seemed the most 'undecided' album in the Satyricon canon, Volcano is for sure the strangest. In what sparks of a minor identity crisis, the band had decided to shift almost entirely into a new, black & roll terrain which relies heavily on catchier grooves and simpler song patterns than one would ever have heard on a Nemesis Divina or Dark Medieval Times. Naturally, with this decision came the parting cries of horror from some segment of their fan base, who could no longer categorize them into some safe, compartmental mold, but then most of these folks had already been flaking off from the previous album or even before that. Yet, what's even more unique and unexpected about Volcano is the use of small ambient and electronic tweaks, female guest vocals and more overtly the fact that, for all of its mutations, Volcano is not entirely committed...
I'm of course referring to the opening track, "With Ravenous Hunger", which seems like another straight black metal track circa Rebel Extravangaza, flourished with a brief industrial intro, Gladiator quote, and some straight bursts of blasting that cede to slower grooves. Ironically enough, I found this to be the least interesting tune on the entire disc. There are no hooks here which caught me, just cycles of hostile riffing so bland that if the name Satyricon were not upon them, they'd rate no greater than some random underground derivative. The atmospheric break hovering around the 4 minute mark introduces some ghostly synthesizers, but the guitars are still quite predictably boring. It also introduces us to the newer, more monotonous Satyr, who has seemingly lost a little of the character of his voice. I can only imagine that the desired effect was a sort of numbing, maniacal hypnosis, but throughout Volcano I found they were not quite up to par with some of the earlier or later efforts.
However, I say: if they wish to rock, let them rock. Provided that they rock well. And with the onslaught of the second track, "Angstridden", Satyricon shifts into an industrial rock territory which frankly was a lot more fun than the first. Note that the drumming is organic here, and Frost does well to emulate the mechanical nature of the song with his hi-hats and double bass, but the real strength of the song is that central groove. Those fearing that the Norwegians had completely lost their mind here, fear not, there's a black/thrash segment of the song in the center which is palpably exciting, some electronic noise infused as it escalates towards a total freakout riff 2:00 in. This is also where they introduce us to Anja Garbarek's ethereal, sparse vocal lines, which sound quite a lot like earlier Portishead. Normally I balk at crass attempts to incorporate female vocals, but in Volcano's case they're tastefully and briefly implemented.
Sure enough, it's the slower, grooving tunes here that caught my attention far more than their occasional steps backward. "Fuel for Hatred" functions off a few leaden, simplistic guitars that use harmonics as percussion while Frost drives the party from below. "Suffering the Tyrants" is a moodier, more atmospheric piece with lots of thick double-bass, curving serpentine riffs that often recall Celtic Frost, and spikes of debilitating higher register melody while Satyr sort of narrates the affair like a bitter, decrepit specter. Then there's "Possessed", which explodes into a black/thrash direction, the excitement elevated due to its placement after "Suffering...". Riffs here are decent, if nothing distinctive, and the doubling of the verse guitar gives it a clinical motif that sets up the concrete thrash breakdown rather well. Other standouts are "Repined Bastard Nation", a spectrum of tremolo lines, grooves and industrial/ambient overlay, and perhaps 50% of the 14+ minute saga "Black Lava", which lurches along much like its titular matter might.
It was the new Satyricon. It wasn't for everyone, and in truth I feel that this album, and its direct predecessor kicked off a little bit of rock star narcissism in its pair of constituents. Never a welcome thing, but not at all anomalous. Band grows more famous, gets on bigger tours, is placed in a position where they are often surrounded by the 'beautiful people', and what else can you expect? The fact that Satyr and Frost kept their grisly vocals and barbaric, thoughtful lyrical imagery among their new found windfall speaks that they had no intention of letting it all get to their heads. Because of that, Volcano is honestly a pretty good record, with a brooding mix and a good portion of pent up anger. It stumbles on occasion, in particular where the band decides to regress into more familiar, stock black metal terrain ("With Ravenous Hunger", parts of "Mental Mercury") and neglect to incorporate the quality riffs that made the band in the first place. But as a 'whole' experience, it's certainly a full step above Rebel Extravaganza.
Satyricon is an iconic (no pun intended) band, who, like Emperor but in a different way, stood apart from the rest of the black metal scene by embracing other influences into their music and that's what kept everything so interesting. Satyr said it himself, they want to be a great band, not a great black metal band. This album is another step in their evolution of being one of the greatest bands today, perhaps as great as they were among their own, but now with a wider perspective. When I first heard this album (hell, the first 20 times maybe) I had a really hard time digging into it. This album took a lot of time, but I now find it as one of my favourites if not my favourite metal albums. It's complex, it's different, and in my opinion is pure brilliance and it's where Satyricon shines the most in their whole discography. Having this said, lets move on to the actual review, track by track, but with a little insight
on the album as a whole.
With Ravenous Hunger - After a rather industrial intro, which reminds us of machines marching to war, we hear the warcry "At my signal, unleash hell." And then assault begins. We're presented pounding double bass and buzzing raw guitars (but perceptible). Volcano isn't your typical black metal album, not even by Satyricon standadrs. There are blastbeats here and there, but very well-placed. This album has a lot of atmospheric passages, where experimentation with synths, guitar noise and droning riffs make their way into this ravenous fury. Lyrics aren't really remarkable on this one, but the theme in this album is a bit philosophical, and these lyrics are no exception.
Angstridden - There is a lot of exploration in the rhythmic section. Drums have a great rock'n'roll feeling in this song. Blastbeats are hand to hand with some tribal breaks, the guitars are the most dissonant thing you have heard
coming from Satyr. Here we have another mid to slow paced interlude, and I think these moments are where this album really shines.
Fuel for Hatred - My least favourite track. Nice black'n'roll, yes, looks a bit fueled, but I feel that this song doesn't belong in an album where most of the music is more complex and really innovative. What we have here is a
straight forward fast-paced rock and roll with harsh vocals. It too has a slow tempo part, but it's nothing really worth of listening.
Suffering the Tyrants - This song starts with a really transcending feeling, like Satyr is dragging you around with his voice, playing with your conscience. Some eerie sounds blending with the guitars, distorted chords and screaming harmonics make this one of the most inspired and inspiring songs in this album. The slow part on this one is really sick, morbid even. The raw production of the guitars really helps into the atmosphere, adding more noise to the instrumental chaos. Frost is really dynamic on these eight songs, exploring a lot of rhythms besides the typical blastbeat and double pounding that we love so much.
Possessed - This one is a lot faster, but with time for some droning riffs on the end. We also find on this album lots of start-and-stop breaks that really add into the rock feeling of some of the songs here. I haven't made many or any remarks about Satyr's voice so far, so I'm gonna take the chance to do it now. It's harsh, sure it is, but it's not black metal. It's not even "sung", it's like he's reading poetry using harsh vocals. The few times the clean voice is used, it adds a great impact to the song because it blends so well with the atmosphere.
Repined Bastard Nation - I really can't get the meaning and purpose of the lyrics, but this songs holds one of my favourite parts on this album, which starts at 0:55. Just listen to that rhythm guitar going along with the snare, it adds incredible balance to the melodic line. We have blastbeats on this one too, but they don't sound black metal in this context, sounds more like some industrial thing or whatever.
Mental Mercury - Now we're talking. With this song begins the best part of the album, the epic part. It starts really fast, but I always feel like it's building intensity. The inhuman scream "Suffering!", the synth on the background, the trumpet, it really feels like you're up in the hills, watching an army, slow and unstoppable, making the ground shake. Then at 3:30 it's genius. Everytime I listen to this song I get the bumps. The female vocals, whispering, the guitar slowly digging to your subconscious, the almost jazz-like drumming... This is what I'll be listening when I trip on fucking acid. It's amazing. And it's the most brilliant riff I've ever heard. Ever.
Black Lava - The final song on this album. Marking at 14:34, it's the epic of this album in its true sense, but after such brilliance on the previous track, it's hard to keep it up, but Satyricon managed it very well. This one is always mid-paced and it's lyrics represent pefectly what is, to me, the spirit of black metal. Pure. Fucking. Coldness. The lava this volcano spills will not melt you to death and engulf you in flames. It will drown you to a mind-chilling state, that you just can't help but embrace.
To finish this review, I'd just like to reccomend those of you that did not enjoy this album at the first listens, give it a shot. Listen to it from time to time, try to appreciate all the details it offers, because if you're just comparing it to what you were expecting from Satyricon you won't find what you seek. This album is a genre by it's own as it's not black metal influenced by other genres. It picks from a lot of genres and merges it into this enormous masterpiece.
Stand-out tracks: Suffering the Tyrants; Mental Mercury; Black Lava
Satan, the Kings are heading home.
NO. Just NO. This album is SO INCONCEIVABLY TERRIBLE that I don't even have the words to describe it. This is EXACTLY the sort of album that requires passages in ALL CAPS to illustrate just how UTTERLY AWFUL it is. There's no excuse that Satyricon can use for putting out an album that's so worthless, so undeniably terrible on every level, so limp-wristed and castrated that the very MENTION of 'heavy metal' is enough to make it cry like a nine year old girl. I've listened to this album all the way through precisely once. ONCE. I can't even bear to listen to it even once more.
Satyricon was once a fairly boring but still legitimate black metal band that everyone liked for reasons that I never fully understood. Having seen a used copy of 'Volcano' sitting around the local record shop for about six dollars, I said why not and picked it up. Were it only that I could go back in time and KICK MYSELF IN THE BALLS until I could no longer bring it to the register, I would do it a thousand times over. Well, that's not exactly true: I'd probably still buy it, just so I can know what the absolute nadir of musical effort is in modern heavy metal. I consider it something of a learning experience, kind of like how punching a hundred mirrors and then soaking your hand in Tabasco sauce teaches you that it's probably not a good idea to do it in the future. Yes, it's something you should know logically, but sometimes you need a bit of a kick to really imprint such an idea into your head.
Of the eight songs and agonizing fifty-five minutes of this LP, there are one and a half good songs. And all the good material is within the first half of the album. This means that there are six and a half songs with absolutely NO quality whatsoever to speak of. Now, that might be a good enough ratio for some of you, but I tend to set my standards a little higher. Even, I don't know, three good songs would make me not want to die while listening to it. However, this album can't even scrape up enough to make three solid tracks. You know, even if they just put 'Mother North' on here again, I'd tolerate it a great deal more simply because, even though it would be a repeat, that would be an additional good song that you could put in instead of something like 'Angstridden'.
I suppose on some aesthetic level, this is sort of black metal. This means that there are raspy vocals, tremolo picked sections, and the occasional blast beat. That's about as black metal as this album gets. The rest is third-rate Dimmu Borgir chugga chugga riffing, inane double bass patterns, and amelodic, underdeveloped melodies, all wrapped up with Satyr's utterly trite vocal performance. This album just sucks in every way. There's no shred of light on the terrible songs: no isolated good riffs or fills or trade-offs or anything that would bring me even the slightest interest. I can't even appreciate this on a technical level, because THE INSTRUMENTATION IS SO SIMPLE. The riffs are five-note tremolo affairs or two-chord chugfests with nothing interesting going on at all.
So, as I said before, there's one and a half good songs. The fully good track is opener 'With Ravenous Hunger'. While not awesome in any way, it manages to be reasonably intense and ominous with Satyr's trades between shrieks and spoken word passages, held together neatly by some decent riffing and a fairly robust percussive performance on the part of Frost. The half comes from some decent parts in 'Fuel For Hatred', which, while just being a rock song with double bass and rasping, manages to be more fun and headbanging than anything else here. The main riff is genuinely pretty cool, and I like listening to it. So. One and a half good songs, equalling to just over ten minutes of reasonable music. Then there's three quarters of an hour of utterly horrible crap.
Each of the remaining songs is completely trite and boring, and not worth mentioning in even the slightest respect. Expect a bunch of boring crap. However, the one that I will take the time to write my hatred towards is the closing track, 'Black Lava'. This takes all the worst elements of this album and drives them towards their logical extreme, resulting in a song that not only has nothing interesting going on at all, but somehow manages to extend its thirty seconds of ideas into FOURTEEN AND A HALF EXCRUCIATING MINUTES. I'm pretty sure that the last half of the song is NOTHING but the same two lines of lyrics repeated over the same riff and the same drumbeat and the same useless, effortless crap that defines this album. SO GAY.
Volcano was the first Satyricon album I owned, and I was suitably impressed with it on my first listen.
One thing that did stand out on Volcano though was its rock-like style. It wasn’t raw black metal, it wasn’t “true” black metal – it was rock-influenced black metal. It’s this factor alone that puts a lot of people off this album. Now this isn’t a bad thing per se, but it does make for a different sounding Satyricon.
The music could be described as having the characteristics of black metal, though the sound is very rock-like. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing. It is still black metal, and it’s sound unique, though it has elements of rock in the music.
As for the instruments, one thing that disturbs me on this album is the bass. Black metal isn’t exactly renowned for having an audible or clear bass, though in this album the lead guitar sound is quite dominant and the bass almost unheard. When listening for the bass it can be heard, but it seems it is used for little more than an after-thought instrument, or an instrument thrown in there because every metal album needs a bass. The riffs are extremely simple on the bass and with little deviation.
The guitars are fine. They have a unique sound and while nothing special, they suit this album. The vocals are done incredibly well – they have a cold feeling to them and it fits this album fantastically. Drums are good, although a little simplistic at times. There isn’t a constant blast of drums on this album, though considering the sound and tempo of the album, that’s a good thing.
The tracks are worthy – a few of them are nothing special but the majority of tracks are quite good. Personal favourites include “With Ravenous Hunger”, “Repined Bastard Nation” and my favourite, “Black Lava”. Sometimes, however, I can’t help but feel the tracks sound a little too much the same, though that’s no great issue.
Track and CD length are also worthy. The last track is probably one of the best outro tracks I have ever heard on a CD. It is also the longest track on the album – 14:33 length (compare to second longest at 6:52) – and the CD alone is worth owning just for this track. Album length is acceptable, at 54:32, for the original 8-track release.
Having just praised Black Lava, it would be a good idea to point out that this track has female vocals. They are done well in my opinion and suit the song, though I know a lot of people don’t like it for that reason. It is a far cry from the harsh vocals throughout the rest of the album.
The lyrics are really, not that good, but A) it’s black metal (who can understand the lyrics on half the BM releases anyway?) and B) I don’t pay much attention to lyrics anyway. Reading the lyrics in the booklet make me realize how stupid some of them are, and then listening to them in the song – some of them just don’t fit that well. A lyric re-write for some songs could have benefited.
On another note: it’s been said this album has a commercial feel to it, and that’s true in some aspects (just compare the booklet with the CD to the one of DMT, for example), but that doesn’t mean you still can’t enjoy the music. If you take the album for what it is – a piece of music – and not a “sell out album”, “the fall of Satyricon” or “a deviation from true black metal”, then you might enjoy the album. Don’t compare it to earlier albums; just take it for what it is: an individual album.
Overall, Volcano is a fantastic album, and one of my favourites. Its vocals are harsh yet suiting, it has a fair play-time, it has a few outstanding tracks and the last track is just mind-blowing.
A highly recommended purchase.
What do you think of when you hear of Satyricon? To most people, they think of their masterpiece "Nemesis Divina," which, in my mind is one of the best black metal albums ever composed. Yes, then they came out with Rebel Extravaganza, which was so-so, but no where near Nemesis Divina. Here we have Volcano, a simple titled album with boring artwork on the front. This album... well, it's down 100,000 miles far away from the greatness of Nemesis Divina, in the north-east direction! Yup, believe all the hype, this album is not great, and is disapointing coming from a band like Satyricon.
Did we all see it coming in the first place with Rebel Extravaganza? Maybe, but damn they really sunk low on this album. What on Earth happened really? Could this be due to the idea that the band signed to Red Ink records, which is owned by a band member of System Of A Down?! To be real with you, most of the songs on the album are uninspiring, and boring. They're for the most part, weak and watered down without the same intensisty we've seen in "Nemesis..." and even in "Rebel..."
To begin with, as I mentioned above, the music is weak. There's no sonic-sounding guitar to be heard on the album, or the great blast beats we known Frost for. Satyr's voice sounds very worn out and dried out, like he's a dying cow that's anorexic (that's the best I can describe his voice, sorry for the corny humor, but it's true then again.)
What happened to the inspiration which I've felt the first time I listened to Satyricon anyway?! "Nemesis..." truely influenced me to get into more black metal bands, but this album influened me to... well return this CD and get my refund. I sat and heard nothing special from this album; though there are two noteworthy tracks worth mentioning. One is the catchy "Fueled For Hatred," which isn't the Satyricon we know, but it's surely different. At first, I heard this on MTV2 over and over again, making me irritated hearing this rockish song. But after a while, the media accomplishes it's task and get's me into the song (curse you goddamn mass media!) It's a great song compared to all the other Satyricrap songs on the album. Fueled For Hatred is sured to get you headbanging, mark my damn words! The music video included with my version of the album is quite kick ass I must add. Another noteworthy song is "Mental Mercury," and it's not because it's a "good song," but because it actually sounds like the black metal they're known for. It's not necessaritly a good song, but it reminds me of what Satyricon once were. It has the blast beats, with Satyr's signature vocal style and relentless guitar shredding. Everything else is black metal minus the black.
In summary, this album is a disapointment. Yes, bands should experiment every so often, trying new things with their music, but damn Satyricon, why did you have to go from black metal to this hard rockish sounding music? Talk about experiments gone wrong, this is one resulting in a mutation of sound! I'm not saying that they suck today, but they've lost their touch and will probably be like this for the rest of their career.
Most of us on Metal-Archives are not religious I know, but please... let us pray for the better of Satyricon. Please...
Ear Catchers: Fueled For Hatred, Mental Mercury
I didn't write a review of this album cos it always leaves me without words to describe this masterpiece. Satyricon have always had my sincerest appreciation and with this album I reached the highest esteem for them. All previous Satyricon albums deserve long applauds but the longest one I give is for Volcano. This album is what I call an example for what can start becoming post-black-metal. This album shows how an evolution or an experimentation (or both) can result positive, absolutely positive to my eyes (and I hope for many fans). All true Bm fans should open their mind to get an insight in this deserving job.
Please do not compare it with DMT or the Shadowthrone. understand that this album is a different idea. It WANTS to be different.
With Ravenous Hunger
An aggressive song that alternates mid-tempo with blastbeats. the main riff is long and elaborated itself (like almost each main riff within the eight songs). The calm vocal samples alternate (again) with the raging grim vocals in a way that makes shiver. more than 6 minutes and a half of pure militant civil war.
Mainly mid-tempo and easy to get in. Initially normally nice. But after three minutes we can taste one of the most beautiful parts in the whole album: the part in which some wonderful female vocals speak with a cute (and sexy) voice similar to Massive Attack's or Portishead's one. It fits perfectly during a pretty fast and aggressive metal riff.
Fuel For Hatred
The most known song and surely one of the most beautiful. This one is a bit trashy, and this feature maybe considered an evolution and at the same time an experiment). Vocals are perfectly built and the guitar harmonics in the strophes are a stroke of genius (they give an adrenalinic blast in the listener's ears imo)
Suffering the Tyrants
uh.. that is the less catchy song. it still remains beautiful due to the guitar riffs but it's a pity for it's a bit boring.
Aggressive, strong, angry... The album reagains points and gets more ones in this fifth song. Drums are very able and particular, especially in the choruses after the "we are possessed!". What raises the beauty of the song is the (even if sporadic) use of sound samples.
Repined Bastard Nation
a great song with a political title (only the title, don't you worry!) that involves mid tempo all the time. The riffs are long and veeeery beautiful and catchy, and the chorus shows a strange sound sample similar to a breath that accompanies the tempo in a very nice way. The final part has a very strange and disharmonic (blissly nauseating I say) sample over the riff that gives a frightening sense of anguish. The song fades out.
A charming title for a more charming song. Alike Angstridden it would look normally nice until kinda a bit more than three minutes. A slow tempo walks forth with a dreaming metal melody. The highlight is reached with the sound samples, very low volumed this time, but various, since first we can hear a woman speaking and the a man. Both voices are very beautiful.
Here we go. The slow song of the album and surely one of the best one. a tr00 text for it ("90-95... the smell of black metal..."). The song starts with a grey atmosphere with catchy mid tempo after a lone growl fading in and starting the vocal. The song is almost a quarter an hour long, and the second middle of Black Lava is particularized by a slower tempo, slower than the initial one. In the eighth minute we hear a female voice (which if I call it "wonderful" I still underrate it..) that sings utterly charming. A bit strange pitched and with a very low volume it makes dream for a long time. The voice starts again in the twelveth minute with a vocal part similar to the previous one.
Volcano is a trascendental trip, and it should deserve a full immersion in it every time you listen to it. An adviced way to listen to it is in an industrial/metropolitan environment in a car. Maximum volume and high speed.
i'm not overrating this album, I'm just trying to explain a work which is perfect for the modern BM scene. The gods of BM showed how to give lessons for the next BM generations.
Ladies and Gentlemen, the evaluation to Volcano in the following:
2 for the experimental sound
2 for the words that it always leaves me without
2,5 for the Satyricon trademark
1 for the clean but Bm'ish sound and samples
2 for the perfect fitting of every (beautiful) sound and sample in a homogeneous work in its complex
total Volcano: 95/100
Satyricon has always been the strange one out in the Black Metal Scene. This band never cared much for trends and fashion play and always picked their own unique way to show their face to the world. Thanks to this attitude they have been called arrogant know-it-alls, but the sheer fact that they have been around for over 10 years and have released 5 studio albums, 2 EP’s, a split record and a DVD has got to mean something.
"Volcano" is the last one in this impressive list of releases and again not what I had expected from Satyricon. On previous albums there always used to be like 10 million tempo changes and breakneck speeds worthy of any Grind Band that dominated the vibe. On "Volcano" however it is the complete opposite of that. There's a lot of brooding mid-tempo Metal that reminds me of bands like Celtic Frost and the older Darkthrone stuff. Satyricon manage to put their own darkness in to the mix and are able to create that typical Satyricon vibe. Listen to a song like "Angstridden" or the unbelievably epic almost 15 minute spanning "Black Lava" and you'll see what I mean! Just to show they haven't forgotten the faster side of the sound "Mental Mercury" gives the album the needed kick in the rear towards the end.
Some fans of the older stuff who had hoped for a “Nemesis Divina Part II” might be a bit disappointed but the people how loved the more brooding and slower parts on "Rebel Extravaganza" are going to love this! I can't wait to see what happens live! With the show at the Staddijk in Nijmegen still fresh in mind, I'm more than excited about seeing these guys live in the Netherlands again!
(this review was originally written for www.lordsofmetal.nl and is republished here with kind permission of the webmaster)