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A Look Back on Darker Days - 85%

AmiralMauth, March 16th, 2014

Often, re-releases of old black metal songs strike me as very sad. It often seems as if the artists are trying to resurrect a majesty that ought to be left to solidify its legacy in the past, rather than moving onward into a new future.

With that said, Satanic Warmaster's most recent release is not bad. Strength and Honour was an incredible black metal album, each song was a masterpiece in its own right, and the hateful chaos that surrounded its out-from-the-shadows release added to the character of the album.

Nova Ordo Ater retains a lot of this character. Pacing is still chaotically fast and aggressive, and the guitars are as noisy and distorted as ever. Werewolf's high-pitched screams do a good job of taking me to his home Finland, where he rampages about the night with the power of Satan behind him. The drums sound a little too frenzied, almost off-beat at times, and the bass line is nearly inaudible and superfluous. Strength and Honour seems a little more polished and more carefully produced. Here, the rawness doesn't come across as well, and the vocals don't have the epic, echoing character that they used to.

One of the strong points Nova Ordo Ater has over other Satanic Warmaster albums is that the song progression and ordering is pretty strong. In fact, I think it's a bit better than even Strength and Honor. We begin with a pleasant, almost calm introduction before getting launched into ultra-raw, spur-of-the-moment cuts of Satanic Warmaster's best songs. This is one of those albums that you really should listen to from start to finish in order to truly enjoy. For some reason, songs like Raging Winter, The Burning Eyes of the Werewolf, and A New Black Order don't stand well on their own.

Perhaps it's because they're so raw and unpolished that they must be listen to all at once. These versions in particular feel weak and unfinished if you listen to them alone. However, when I listen to them as a group, from start to finish, I find a great deal of character and passion that's almost as good as the greatest Satanic Warmaster albums.

Strength and Honour is quite a yardstick to measure up to, though, and Nova Ordo Ater brings a lot of what we look for when we listen to black metal to the table. It's fast, it's aggressive, it's raw, it has good composition and the songs tend to transition nicely from one into the other. It's far from as sad as other re-releases that I will not mention, and although it's not a classic, give it a listen.