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Varied, but missing some of the flow to go with it - 67%

Byrgan, May 5th, 2006

The members of Satyricon varied themselves as musicians from their initial release of demos till the their debut "Dark Medieval Times." They are a band which wanted to constantly alter themselves from album to album in their recurring span, but here's the first case of where they jumped forward or progressed too rapidly. Although, even with the number of attachments on "The Shadowthrone," it is still evident that you're listening to Satyricon. Maintaining some of the more infamous and well-known Norwegian coined black metal sound along the lines of Immortal, Darkthrone, Mayhem, Gorgoroth and Emperor.

The keyboards are a big driving force behind this second album's anatomy. They use a few of the same sampled sounds from the debut as well as add piano, choir and other symphonic elements ranging anywhere from classical-esque to medieval inspired. The guitars, being lower in the mix and less prominent, blend some similar modes of playing from "Dark Medieval Times." However, they have tendency to add more higher tremolo picked melodies, and one of his signature riffs on this album during the mid-paced sections is to use these down stroked hits while working his way up the neck of the guitar. There are a few catchy ones of the melodic type that might pop up and can be hummed right along. During some select areas there are acoustic guitars akin to the folk-like elements on the first. Some of the techniques range from simplistic to somewhat layered and complex, with even a few of the more involved guitar lines bleeding through that will be more evident on the next album "Nemesis Divina."

Satyr's vocals are mostly dry from lack of an abundance of reverb, which is usually the treatment for black metal vocals, but it sounds as if there is a slight amount of distortion effect added to them. His primary vocal patterns are pretty spot on to their last but way more up front in the mix; instead of being spread out and getting you from all sides, it is more direct and almost one on one, so in that respect it can sound different. There are a few areas of clean vocal lines that range from narrative to almost a chant. In some areas it sounds fitting and with a natural feeling and intensity. However in other areas, like the beginning of "Vikingland," it sounds forced and awkward, partly due to it opening up in the beginning of the song as an alternate to Satyr's contradictory roughened vocals. The last fuel to the fire is Frost's drum patterns, which are mostly a driving force to get that head banging of yours. His beats aren't the most technically sound but he plays extremely consistently. He still does those characteristic beats where the hi-hat and bass drum are hit at the same time, then the snare; something like early Immortal was doing. Some of the rapid double sticked hi-hat/alternate snare hit beats, along with the more distinguishable sound quality on the drums, can make the atmosphere go to an upbeat realm that's warmer than the frigid temperatures we're used to the band embracing us with.

The composition here isn't as cut and dry as saying "this isn't an album, but a collection of songs" or "their compositional skills are night and day, therefore they clash." It is on the way to those sentiments but not fully defining them entirely, or else this could've been worse off. The song writing can jump from dark, upbeat, epic, headbangable to introspective, but all the while not being on top of it all, as if they're putting elements into a particular song at different times. For a good chunk of this the song writing is something like: write this part and play it repetitiously, now include this part and play that section for a duration, and so on and so on till the song ends. Except sometimes without the smooth glide or lubrication in between. I mean there are general elements used in an attempt to connect the dots, such as similar returning vocals, certain drumming patterns and guitar techniques. It's like the ability is here to create a certain section, but when putting that piece with another and another, the fundamentals of flow and timing can throw the listener off. Yes, this has a lot of variety and it does have areas where things align from section to section, but then there are others where the mood is supposed to be steady, the evolution growing and evolving, though I'm compensating from getting pulled out of the hold or "trance" they might have got me with because the entire experience doesn't consistently add up or effectively transition into the next stage.