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Pure evil incarnated! - 100%

The Clansman 95, May 21st, 2019

Satyricon are surely one of the most famous, but also controversial Norwegian black metal bands of all times. Their first three efforts, although true to the classic Norwegian black metal sound, retained some interesting and original influences, making up for three indubitably fantastic and timeless classics. Then, since the late nineties, they decided to move on and to start experimenting, throwing in a certain gothic contamination to their music, plus some minor influences coming from industrial and symphonic metal. While their later efforts are widely discussed and often harshly criticized by many, their "unholy trinity", consisting of their first three albums, is revered by each and every black metal aficionado alike, without exceptions.

"Nemesis Divina" is probably the most loved effort of the band, and surely it's also the best. The secret to the success of this release dwells in the above mentioned perfect combination of the true Norwegian black metal sound with a pinch of outer musical influences, in a way that stays true to tradition, while at the same time being able to incorporate original elements in it. This way, the music stays atmospheric and evil, but also extremely varied.

The combination is completed by the strong sense of melody instilled in each of the seven tracks the platter is made of, a constant for the entire duration of the album, something that will magically drag you back to listen to the whole thing over and over again. Examples of what I mentioned above can be found in "Forhekset", a song ended by a pure, awesome folk melody, in symphonic-influenced pieces like "Du Som Hater Gut" and "Mother North", where respectively the grand piano and the keyboards play a huge role in terms of atmosphere or even lead parts, and in the gothic-influenced "Immortality Passion" (whose brief keyboard intro is almost reminescent of a Nightwish song).

The keyboards hold indeed an important role in the album, and, in conjunction with the duo of electric guitars, are able to make each song progress and stay interesting, resulting in entertaining and varied compositions. For example, "Du Som Hater Gut" stays raw and black-metalish for almost the entirety of its duration; when the song is leaning towards the end and you don't expect it, the mood changes and the grand piano enters to play a lead melody, that feels totally unexpected but not forced even in the least. "Immortality Passion" starts in a gothic fashion, but as the song progresses, it becomes more gloomy and disquieting, complemented by the ever changing tremolo-picked riffs and the excellent vocal performance by Satyr.

This sense of progression can be felt not only in the tracks considered as identities on their own, but also in the album as a whole: indeed, the platter starts with a song that is the exact definition of Norwegian black metal ("The Dawn of a New Age"), to later shift towards the inclusion of elements coming from different musical backgrounds, and ending with an atmospheric instrumental piece. If you add the fact that the whole process feels as natural as the flow of a river, and that the folk/symphonic elements are so well mixed with the rest that this album doesn't lose even an ounce of his traditional black metal fashion, you can't help but praise the musicians for the amazing work they did here.

Going more in-depth with the music, I'll start saying that the guitar work is absolutely top-notch, inspired, evil, atmospheric and also quite technical, especially if compared to your average black metal band, with the guitars playing often different patterns that complement each other, and employing a wide variety of black metal features, such as the unmissable tremolo-picked riffs, the arpeggios, the particular chords used (dissonant, minor...) and so on.

The drumming is absolutely awesome, being relentless, brutal and fast, with lots of blast beats and a fantastic use of the double bass, and also capable of being atmospheric when needed, thus adding dynamics: it perfectly matches the songs' progressions, or even triggers the above mentioned changes/progressions throughout the tracks, being able to completely change the overall mood of the music. Satyr's vocals are absolutely evil and raw, probably some of the most malefic I've ever listened in any black metal album; the production is just perfect, and perfectly matches and enhances the music: it's raw and evil, without being lo-fi, making all the instruments perfectly audible (even the bass), with all the volumes perfectly balanced and a nicely distorted and sharp guitar tone.

Mentioning only certain songs seems rather unfair to me, as this kind of flawless album needs to be listened to in its entirety. However, I'll say that "The Dawn of a New Age" is probably the best track of the platter: it retains an extremely aggressive and quasi-apocalyptic feel (which was to be expected, since the theme of the song is Armageddon), and it stays absolutely thrilling from the beginning to the very end, thanks to awesome riffing, great and varied drum work and frequent tempo changes.

"Mother North" is another highlight and a real classic, being Satyricon's most famous song and featuring an interesting use of the keyboards and of the atmospheric parts, giving the track an epic, but also melancholic feel (the lyrics talk about the rage felt towards those who disrespect nature and abuse of it, and foresees that one day Mother North herself will hunt down and kill those who once disrespected her). "Immortality Passion" is probably the most atmospheric and trance-inducing track of the lot, while title track "Nemesis Divina" is the most evil one, and features a great guitar work with constantly-progressing guitar riffs, plus some guitar harmonies thrown in between, adding to the whole melodic feel of the album.

"Nemesis Divina" is one of the absolute best black metal albums coming from the Norwegian second wave, Satyricon's best work and an essential listen for any black metal aficionado; it's original, slightly innovative while also true to its roots, memorable, evil, atmospheric, varied and absolutely flawless. Recommended to any extreme music aficionado.