Satyricon – Deep Calleth Upon Deep (Napalm)

Friday, 29th September 2017
Rating: 8/10

Satyricon’s 2013 self-titled effort was polarizing, to say the least. Boasting a stripped-down version of their already stripped-down sound, the album, in some circles, was lambasted for its lack of edge and black metal dynamics. What these folks fail to realize is that this has been the band’s modus operandi ever since 2006’s Now, Diabolical. Remaining a straight-in-line black metal outfit was never in the cards for Satyricon. So, here comes the more bizarre, expansive Deep Calleth Upon Deep, an album rooted in bucking the unconventional while doubling-down on the band’s rocked-out riff ornamentations.

Written with the dark cloud of Satyr’s brain cancer diagnosis hanging over the band, Deep Calleth Upon Deep is certainly more assertive than its predecessor. Satyr’s riffs — easily the most identifiable trait of Satyricon — have a bit more bite to them. He’s long moved past his icy, towering tremolo-picking modes into what best could be described as “gnarled” power chord territory. Thus, on the barn-storming opener “Midnight Serpent” and harsh “Dissonant,” Satyr, along with Frost, take somewhat of a sideways look at one of their most unheralded albums, 1999’s Rebel Extravaganza. While that album tended to get away from the band based on its ambition, the songs on Deep… do not, with “Black Wings and Withering Gloom” successfully pulling from modern-day Satyricon and even those glorious black metal days of yesteryear.

You can almost sense Satyricon wanted to throw down a more difficult gauntlet for its audience with Deep Calleth Upon Deep. The self-titled foray and even 2009’s The Age of Nero were at times, too much at ease with standard 4/4 arrangements and basic riffing. Not here, with the venerable Norwegians turning in an album that has no sense of compromise, only a dark, prolonged stare at what’s left in front of them.

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