Tuesday, 24 May 2016

Satyricon: 'Nemesis Divina' (Re-issue) - Album Review

20th May 2016 saw the re-release of Satyricon's 'Nemesis Divina', there was precious little that could hold back my excitement. Satyricon are an important band for both Norwegian Metal and 2nd wave Black Metal in general. I still remember buying 'Nemesis Divina' and though 'Volcano' was the album that got me into Satyricon, 'Nemesis Divina' remains one of their most iconic and important albums and it's raging fire solidified me as a Satyricon fan. Nemesis Divina remains up there as one of Black Metal's quintessential albums with Emperor's 'In the Nightside Eclipse', Darkthrone's 'Transilvanian Hunger', Burzum's 'Filosofem' and Mayhem's 'De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas' amongst others. It's history and impact alone makes it important and with Emperor in 2014 reforming to perform 'In the Nightside Eclipse' it feels very right to us to celebrate Armageddon with the 20th Anniversary of 'Nemesis Divina'. But let's take a closer look. How has this album faired over time and how did it make such an impact?

'Nemesis Divina' starts out with some iconic and well nurtured Satyricon's sounds, their sound has matured to a nice raging fire and it really shows with the beautiful and scorching opener in 'The Dawn of A New Age'. The first line now becoming such an iconic moment for Black Metal “This is Armageddon”. The aggression and beautiful symphonic touches in this song mean that even today it hits you hard as an energetic Black Metal piece. 'Forhekset' carries this sound and with the use of piano and guitars is actually a very pronounced and effective piece of beautiful anger. It's a song that feels a bit too overlooked. However, 'Mother North' the third track of the album remains one of the most essential songs of both Satyricon and Black Metal. This song gives a bit more epic story to the Satyricon sound and is both raw and roaring, in the way it tears into you and sets an effective evil atmosphere. 'Mother North' quickly became an essential part of the Satyricon setlist and years later it only seems more obvious why. 'Du Som Hater Gud' offers a very dark piano riff into the mix but this isn't quite as pronounced as 'Forhekset' and though powerful is also a step down from 'Mother North'. 'Immortality Passion' faring slightly better but with a lot more symphonic arrangements to it, giving it a dark beauty over it's roaring fire. The title track, 'Nemesis Divina', is quite a unique song, it starts rather awkwardly before becoming very strong, in fact revealing itself to be one of the strongest and darkest of the album. It opens up a burning fire, a rage that perhaps was too energetic for its beginning. We finish the album with 'Transcendental Requiem of Slaves' a more experimental piece and a perfect dark finish to the album.

We instantly see a step up from the previous albums, that feel a little less pronounced, and we see Satyricon take their helm in their own rite as both Black Metal and Satyricon. The rasped vocals and buzz saw sound that was distinctly Satyricon that we only saw glimpses of before, now in full force. It is with 'Mother North' we see the biggest defining moment for Satyricon's sound, where some later albums feel a bit more produced and not quite up to standard, it is with albums such as 'Nemesis Divina' and songs like 'Mother North' that you feel the raw sound of Satyricon which became a benchmark for the band and indeed for Black Metal. It is with no surprise that they should wish to re-release this album, which was so important for their career. Black Metal depicts a very harsh and raw sound and therefore there is little change to the production quality this time around, but if only to embellish their sound. The importance of 'Nemesis Divina' has only grown over time, as more people look back to the roots of sounds and to look more into Black Metal as it becomes more available. Black Metal, though not alone in this, but very importantly nurtures a timeless quality to the defining moments of the genre. The quintessential albums, like 'Nemesis Divina', only grow to be more important.

Satyricon's Video for 'Mother North' remains one of the most important and iconic Black Metal music videos along with Immortal's 'Blashyrkh (Mighty Ravendark)'

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