18 November, 2013

Satyricon: Phoenix – new video



‘Phoenix’, featuring Sivert Høyem, is a beautiful song, no matter how you like your metal, or music in general. It comes off SATYRICON's eponymous LP released in September 2013 through Indie Recordings in SATYRICON's home country Norway, and through Roadrunner Records in the rest of the world which apparently doesn’t include North America where it is distributed through Nuclear Blast Records. The self-titled album sold approximately 1,600 copies in the U.S. in its first week of release, it has conquered the charts in the band's home country (SATYRICON's first album to do so) and has debuted at number 6 in Finland, at number 23 in Germany and at number 26 in Austria. If you haven’t bought your own copy yet, do so through here (Nuclear Blast store) or search for it on iTunes and Amazon/Amazon MP3. Now, concerning ‘Phoenix’, which Satyr wrote specifically for Sivert Høyem (former vocalist of Norway's indie act MADRUGADA), which you might be tempted to dismiss as one not quite fitting the black metal formula:

“… Only if you fall into a trap of attributing genres according to musical formulas - which since the beginning hasn’t been SATYRICON's game. The song is a typical example of how hunger and instinct guided Satyr: he simply sat in front of his TV when Sivert performed one of his songs, he heard and he knew - and he made it happen. Don’t ask for reasons, because black metal doesn't follow reason and shouldn’t follow rules.”

Remembering this, I was nevertheless surprised when I read about Satyr's modus operandi which for six months apparently consisted of a remote cabin in the woods, a man, his vision and his guitar. As instructed, I have managed to visualise the process as well (quite successfully, in fact): getting the recording equipment into that place and then the six months spent in self-imposed isolation “to get to the core of things” (that was a bit harder because you see – I’m quite shallow, heh):

“Imagine the resolve in rejecting everything that is “just doing the job” - even if it means yet another indefinite time away from the comforts of life. Just listen to ‘The Infinity Of Time And Space’, Satyr's magnum opus on this album and the one song that pretty much sums it all up: the obvious root in all that is great in his previous works, the sequence of exciting, surprising breaks that form a new narrative for the old themes, one that goes so much deeper to the core of it all, beyond any generic gestures, beyond the cheap effects or elaborate, overly technical showboating we are all so used to. Pure blackness, perfectly executed.” [Amen. But let’s not forget one of black metal's most iconic drummers, Frost, because:] “…the real reward [is to] leave our comfort zone and feel that the hunger for something new is still there. And feel alive.”


Formed in 1990 in Oslo, Norway, SATYRICON became SATYRICON we all know and admire when Satyr (Sigurd Wongraven) and Frost (Kjetil-Vidar Haraldstad) became its bandmembers in 1993. After a couple of demos, singer, guitarist and bassist Satyr, drummer Frost and guitarist Lemarchand (Håvard Jørgensen) put forth their debut studio album, ‘Dark Medieval Times’, in 1994, with it breaking into the top ranks of black metal genre. Described as “loud and sinister enough to satisfy even the most demanding black metal fans” (Jason Anderson, AllMusic – more here), ‘Dark Medieval Times’ preceded ‘The Shadowthrone’ by bare months. ‘The Shadowthrone’ featured Samoth (Tomas Thormodsæter Haugen of ZYKLON) on guitar and bass. SATYRICON's third full-length released through Moonfog Productions followed in 1996, showcasing Kveldulv's (Ted Skjellum, also known as DARKTHRONE's Nocturno Culto) guitar skills. ‘Nemesis Divina’ is these days generally considered a classic in the black metal genre, “a screaming indication of SATYRICON's sophistication within heavy music” (Matt Kantor, AllMusic – more here). In 2009, IGN included ‘Nemesis Divina’ in their “10 Great Black Metal Albums” list. Satyr and Frost followed up with ‘Megiddo’ EP in 1997 and ‘Itermezzo II’ EP in 1999. SATYRICON's fourth studio album, 1999's ‘Rebel Extravaganza’ which featured a whole array of guest musicians, broke onto Finnish charts at number 27 and onto Norwegian charts at number 32. Firmly down to a twosome, SATYRICON's next longplayer, 2002's ‘Volcano’, nearly conquered Norwegian charts, debuting at number 4. The first album from one of black metal's elite to be released on a major label, Capitol Records, also won the band several awards including the Norwegian Grammy for “Best Metal Album”. “For you see, although SATYRICON's souls may still belong to Satan, their hearts apparently belong to KISS. And so, token ‘Now, Diabolical’ cuts like ‘A New Enemy’”, wrote Eduardo Rivadavia, AllMusic (more here). The fans loved SATYRICON's 2006 album ‘Now, Diabolical’ though, granting it position number 2 on the Norwegian charts, position number 28 on the Finnish charts and an entry into Swedish charts, at number 47. The band's next album, ‘The Age Of Nero’, their second on Roadrunner Records and their first and only album distributed through Koch/eOne in North America, had charted even better, entering the French and German charts for the first time as well as U.S. Top Heatseekers Chart at number 18. Issued in 2008, Eduardo Rivadavia, AllMusic, summed it up as follows:

“The band's carefully considered songwriting process likewise held sway over ‘The Age Of Nero's’ interconnected lyrics, which invariably delved into some aspect of mankind's self-destructive habits and the imminent threat of cataclysmic downfall (and, to be fair, remained as blackened and downright evil as one could ever hope for). In sum, although it was never going to please everyone who has followed some aspect of the group's long and risk-filled career, ‘The Age Of Nero’ was a SATYRICON album through and through: daring, surprising, inventive, and controversial.” [More here]

SATYRICON features: Satyr (Sigurd Wongraven) – vocals, guitar, bass and keyboards and Frost (Kjetil-Vidar Haraldstad) – drums 




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