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Satan Reigns Supreme - 97%

fluffy_ferret, June 2nd, 2007

There’s heavy metal, power metal, thrash metal, death metal etc. the list seems almost endless. Sub-genres are important in metal and bands are quickly classified and labeled. Pariah (the last re-incarnation of Satan) is one of few bands that are difficult if not impossible to classify. Is it heavy/traditional metal? NWOBHM? Pariah don’t make it easy job for me to describe their sound. It’s too sophisticated to be heavy metal, which in its infancy was a rather simple affair. They don’t sound like any power metal band out there, perhaps discounting some of the more aggressive and technical ones, and I can’t detect any signature NWOBHM-sounds. I’m confused. Maybe it would be best to just call it Satan or Pariah Metal?

The guitar playing by Russ Tippins and Steve Ramsey is undeniably what defines Pariah as well as Satan and Blind Fury in the past. Their unique style unifies what is otherwise three very different band. Undeniably, Satan has gone a long way; from humble NWOBHM-ish beginnings, to experimental/melodic rock/metal (Blind Fury) and something that could be described as a NWOBHM-thrash hybrid (Pariah – The Kindred). It’s as if they’ve been experimenting trying to find their identity, and finally found it. Stylistically, Blaze of Obscurity can be seen a step back toSuspended Sentence, but this time around they got everything right, down to the last note.

Those who have heard Satan or Blind Fury know what to expect: great guitar playing. And sure enough, Blaze of Obscurity is a demonstration of guitar mastery and is overall a very guitar-driven album, with plenty of mind-boggling riffs and solos are all over the place, but more importantly, it’s a demonstration of some amazing songwriting as well. This is easily Satan’s creative peak and one of the most consistent albums I’ve ever heard, featuring eight great and conceptually perfect songs with lyrics that come across as sophisticated and thought-provoking.

It isn’t fair to put the entire spotlight on Tippins and Ramsey though since the drumming and bass work from Sean Taylor and Graham English really shines. The rhythm is fast and tight, keeping it focused, aggressive and intense till the end. Vocalist Michael Jackson (yes, that’s his name) has to be commended too as this is easily his careers best performance and a clear improvement from previous endeavors. The band scored a jackpot when they found him; his unusual voice is ideal for this type of music and can be described as rough, aggressive, powerful, dramatic and intense. His best performance can be found on the title song, a multi-faceted semi-ballad with some eerie, wide-range vocals which just may be the best song the album has to offer.

The verdict: Blaze of Obscurity is not terribly melodic or catchy, but the level of musical genius expressed here, along with near flawless songwriting, is more than enough to skyrocket it to heights reserved only for classics. The downside is that most would probably describe it as inaccessible. The guitar playing can come off as a bit too clinical and repetitive for the casual listener, and the overall tone is unusually serious and brooding. Probably not your choice for some light listening those quiet Sunday evenings, but those who take a more serious, intellectual approach when selecting their music will find much to appreciate here.