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One of the best albums of all time - 100%

CadenZ, May 12th, 2017
Written based on this version: 1996, CD, Moonfog Productions

By many considered the magnum opus of one of Norway’s most notorious black metal bands; “Nemesis Divina” delivers from the very first second. The cold, harsh soundscape of the guitars conjure up images of bone saws, while Frost pounds his drums with a somewhat dull, ominous air. Satyr’s croaking vocals enter with “This is Armageddon” and KA-POW (60’s Batman-style) we’re away on a blast beat journey through one of the bleakest, rawest and most mysterious visions of hell ever summoned in music form. The main riff on “The Dawn of a New Age” is based on one of mastermind Satyr’s trademark odd-period folkish melodies (with a twist), which make frequent appearances throughout the album.

The overall atmosphere of the album is very cold and raw, and somehow the melodies (which could rather easily become tinky-winky folk pop tunes) manage to sound haunting and twisted and blend really nicely with the harsher, dissonant black metal riffs. These two ingredients, along with Frost’s blast beats and mid-tempo patterns make up the meat and potatoes of this album. The gravy consists of some atmospheric clean guitar parts and potent bass lines; and to complete the meal we’re served a tasty beverage of Satyr’s grim voice spewing out his hatred towards Christianity as well as his passion for national romanticism (no, not in a Nazi way, fucko).

Though a blood red line is easily discerned throughout the album, there is plenty of contrast to be found here. Most tracks combine all of the ingredients mentioned above in song structures unorthodox more often than not; the one fairly one-dimensional track is the in-your-face blasphemous church burner “Du som hater Gud”, but even that song has an epic, melodious ending.

So we have all the right groceries and shit, and that in itself would be enough to satisfy a starving black metaller’s hunger, but what sets this album apart from 99.99% of all others is the cock. Sorry, cook. Must’ve been distracted by the hot guys in leather pants on the record sleeve waving their weapons about…rrawrr. Anyway, Satyr has done an amazing job at using the right riffs/melodies/parts at the precisely right time, in the right order and for the right amount of time to achieve something most composers can only dream of – a complete and whole big picture. An entirety where all details work for the greater good (or evil) and the end result is greater than the sum of its parts. I admire his sense of time, as for how many repetitions a riff needs to be played to create a sense of completion of the idea but still keep the momentum driving forward. Obviously, Frost’s nice fills and small beat adjustments chip in to keep the listener interested, but there is no question who is Satyricon. Read the name again and you’ll get a clue.

All in all, this is one of the best black metal albums of all time. In fact, this is one of the best albums of all time, all fucking categories and genres included. Every single track is killer; “Mother North” has, of course, emerged as the band’s unofficial anthem, but under-appreciated tunes like “Immortality Passion” and the title track will also crush a priest’s skull easier than Conan, and that’s saying a lot. What also speaks volumes is the fact that I’ve been listening to this record very actively since its release 21 years ago, and it still sounds as fresh and rejuvenating as it did the first time. Some shit just doesn’t get old, and on some rare occurrences, that’s the kind of shit that can be worthy of a perfect verdict.