Looking back on the past few years of black metal history, I’m hard pressed to think of a bigger middle finger to genre elitists than Satyricon’s self-titling of their hugely divisive 2013 album. I consider myself a Satyricon apologist, but it’s considerably more monumental as a symbolic statement than one of sheer quality; if the ties between the band’s legendary initial trilogy of records and their modern material hadn’t yet been fully severed, the act of attaching no name but their own to such a minimalist and decidedly un-black metal affair certainly did the job. Yet going into Deep Calleth upon Deep four years on, my attention wasn’t divided by that particular affair, nor was it compromised by its controversial cover art or the notion of how Satyr’s battle with cancer might impact the material. Rather, I found myself focused solely on the music, a decidedly melodic and accessible affair that, barring some missteps, finds Satyricon on their surest footing in over a decade.

Initial spins of Deep Calleth upon Deep had me interpreting this record as an extension of Satyricon’s self-titled album, and while the albums certainly function well as a pair, Deep is unquestionably the more vibrant and diverse work. Kicking things off with the Now, Diabolical-esque rocking stomp of “Midnight Serpent,” Satyricon engages with a concise selection of tracks that speak in terms of duality. Infectious, melodic guitar lines clash with walls of dissonant power chords throughout the record like an ongoing conversation with death, though certain tracks decidedly tip towards pessimism or levity. The former of these two personalities is best exhibited in the creeping, sullen guitar performances of “To Your Brethren in the Dark,” while the latter rears its head in the title track. Though it sports one goofy fucking hook, this song sticks like glue, its simple rhythms and flowing riff progressions providing an unlikely highlight in a record chock full o’ unique and deliciously off-kilter excursions of blackened metal.

Perhaps more than any other Satyricon effort, Deep Calleth upon Deep is defined by the unique identities of each of its compositions, a varied collection of tracks that still manage to flow together perfectly in LP format. Of course, independently functioning numbers means that the weaker pieces really stand out, and Deep unfortunately sags on the back-end. Penultimate track “Black Wings and Withering Gloom,” the most traditionally blackened of the bunch, sports some of the album’s best riffs yet also its longest runtime, and ends up feeling stretched far too thin. Closing number “Burial Rite” is similarly disappointing, albeit for different reasons, as it sports good riffs yet ultimately feels too basic, lacking the personality required to stand toe-to-toe with Deep’s array of charismatic offerings.

Like Satyricon, Deep Calleth upon Deep is somewhat of a minimalist affair in that it restrains its power chord count in favor of single-string picking in many instances. This makes for a record with an appealing, almost laid-back instrumental approach that allows Satyricon’s experimental tendencies to really shine. Ominous, ethereal wails and inspired implementation of horn and string instruments underscore the album’s mystical air of darkness in a mix that, despite giving short shrift to the bass, is fairly well balanced. If there’s one area that Satyricon could stand to focus on improving with their next outing, it’s in making their explorative tendencies more pronounced. There’s nothing as surprising here as the clean vocal on “Phoenix” from their prior album, and a few major curveballs coupled with Deep’s strong sense of character could potentially yield monstrous results.

A lackluster final quarter aside, Satyricon has accomplished in Deep Calleth upon Deep a thoroughly appealing record that’s the band’s most accessible effort to date without fully sacrificing their blackened majesty or their long-standing progressive tendencies. I have a feeling that this album is destined to be the most divisive of Satyricon’s works; currently, Deep is my favorite of the band’s post-Volcano output, but it barely qualifies as black metal, and I’m curious to see how interpretations of it will evolve over the years as I may very well be in the minority. Even so, this is a very recommendable album for fans of modern Satyricon, and for the first time since Now, Diabolical, I’m legitimately intrigued to hear what comes next from this legendary duo.


Rating: 3.0/5.0
DR: 7 | Format Reviewed: 128 kbps mp3
Label: Napalm Records
Websites: satyricon.no | satyricon.bandcamp.com | facebook.com/SatyriconOfficial
Releases Worldwide: September 22nd, 2017

Share →
  • thornh

    It’s Satyr. It’s Frost. It’s awesome. Their best in a very long time.

  • AndySynn

    Huh… the “it barely qualifies as Black Metal” part is an odd statement (in my opinion anyway) as this is MUCH more Black Metal than their self-titled was (which I also enjoyed btw).

  • wayne the devil

    I like this, but it is like half a loaf of Black Metal. Dissonant is my favorite track, I think. Frost used just one arm, one foot and one eye to play most of the drums while recording this…saving up for 1349!!!

    • thornh

      This is chill Frost. 1349 is Beast Mode Frost. I’ll take either Frost over most drummers. “Blood Cracks Open the Ground” takes my top spot.

      • wayne the devil

        Frost is one of my favorites as well. I love to watch him live. He makes it look effortless…blows my untalented mind!

        • Eli Valcik

          I saw Flo Mourninr live one, such an incredible drummer. Always wanted to see Frost live.

    • Eli Valcik

      I love 1349 that riff at like the 2 min mark of Nathicana is so fucking cool.

  • AnnieK13

    I really loved their ‘self titled’ album and am looking forward to listening to this in its entirety as soon as I get the chance. So far diggin the embedded track.

    • Necrocustard

      Glad to see I’m not the only person to enjoy the last record. Both albums are more of a “planning the end of the world” vibe rather than actually getting on with the job

  • Metrognome26

    The last sentence of this review is really, really spot-on. Now, Diabolical is where I lost all interest in Satyricon. Not in a “fuck those guys!” way, I was just real indifferent to what they were doing. Deep Calleth Upon Deep has me all in, though. The only “problem”? Now I have to work back and find out what I missed out on after Now, Diabolical.

    • AndySynn

      I’ve actually come round to that album in a really big way over the past couple of years. The “deep” cuts on “Now, Diabolical” are well worth checking out – “A New Enemy” and “To The Mountains” are just fantastic tracks.

      • Death_Black_Metal_Fanatic

        It’s an EXCELLENT album!

      • MailGebbons

        Yes huge tracks for me. I am norwegian but lived in England at the time and then Now Diabolical came out, with to the mountains and all as you say. Remember quitting smoking and started running and listening to that one alot on the ipod shuffle.

      • Metrognome26

        Right on, dude. I’ll have to give it another shot.

      • Levly

        Which tracks would you recommend out of Age of Nero?

        • AndySynn

          Personally I have a preference for “Commando” and “My Skin Is Cold”.

          • Levly

            Awesome thanks, I’ll check those tracks out :)!

  • HeavyMetalHamster

    Pretty paint by numbers accessible BM.
    Easy to digest and just as easy to forget.

    • Master of Muppets

      It’s Satyricon, they helped assign a lot of the colors to those numbers in the first place. I won’t deny that it’s relatively accessible in a year with releases from Dodecahedron and Pyrrhon, but I don’t think I can call this forgettable, either. Plus, again, Satyricon.

      • HeavyMetalHamster

        True.
        I’m not a big fan of them in the first place.
        At least I can colour their album cover.

      • Eli Valcik

        Yeah I’m with you there. Accessibility can be a loose term from a metal head’s perspective. I’ll play some stuff for my friends like lets say Diamond Head and I’ll be saying to them, “wow isn’t this great, it’s not that heavy either so you guys should enjoy then.” But then they respond with “What the fuck is this noise!?” As metal heads we end up believing that if some metal isn’t absolutely crushing then it must be accessible, but most of the time we fail to consider how someone who has never heard any real or good metal shocking them. Satyricon has gotten more accessible but I wouldn’t go so far as to label them as sellouts or even radio friendly. But to wrap up my not so clear point, I love old Satyricon and I don’t really give a shit about their new stuff.

        • Master of Muppets

          I actually totally feel that, pretty much sums up my take on most metal elitism. The best music seems to breed the worst fans. Well, the worst bands do, too, Juggalos being a thing and all.

          • Eli Valcik

            Everyone thinks their taste in music is the best music. That’s just how the world works.

          • Master of Muppets

            And they’re all wrong. Mine is the best taste.

      • HeavyMetalHamster

        Actually I’ve been listening the hell out of the new album from The Horrors so not even in a BM mind frame either. Maybe I’ll check it out again later.

        • Master of Muppets

          My two cents are hard at work plugging this Irish band I recently discovered, Gaoth. Best atmospheric black metal album I’ve heard this year, and it’s from 2016. They done good.

          • HeavyMetalHamster

            Better than Slow?

          • Master of Muppets

            Not really a fair comparison, Slow being funeral doom and Gaoth being atmospheric black metal. I would put them on par with each other for the quality of the music, but you’re asking me if a burger is better than a mango here.

          • HeavyMetalHamster

            Burgers are better.

          • HeavyMetalHamster

            Plus….you do have to make a year end list so you best get used to burger and mango comparison criteria 😉

          • Master of Muppets

            Sometimes I want a hearty meal soaked in the grease and blood of subjugated species, and a mango just doesn’t cut it then no matter how much I love them. Other times, I want something sweet, refreshing and indescribably tasty, and even the best burger won’t do the job there like a perfectly ripe mango. Both are excellent within their own spectrums, neither are comparable in general. I knows of what I speaks, yo.

          • HeavyMetalHamster

            You know nothing Jon Snow……

    • I wouldn’t call this paint by numbers at all.
      I don’t think it sounds like anything else out there. I think they’ve carved out a very unique sound.

  • Dark Self

    If there is no clean whinning vocal, it would be a ++!

    Accessible, not sure (but I am only at number 2)? Different yes!

    Not sure why people piss on Diabolical Now so hard…. Maybe they just want complicated technical boring stuff…..

    Anyway, the first 2 songs are very good….

    S

    • RuySan

      For some reason I always felt Satyricon music souless, even in their dark medieval times and Nemesis divina years. Seemed like music that I should like but it just never clicks with me.

      And satyr looks more like Kyle MacLachlan than Kyle MacLachlan (blame Botox)

  • Eli Valcik

    I just want an All Evil part 2.

  • Refined-Iron Cranium

    What I find most interesting about the last few Satyricon albums is that they’ve managed to craft a sound that is completely their own. Nobody sounds quite like them, which is quite rare in black metal these days. And it’s even more difficult to properly classify them; they have some tremolo riffs and they’ve never abandoned their dissonant riffs, but you can’t exactly call them black metal. It’s like a weird mix between black metal, viking metal and post rock, while never being squarely one of those.

    My biggest complaint about this album and the previous one is the production. The guitars sound so flat and muddy, it takes away a lot of the power of the music. The Age of Nero still had a nice icy sound which made songs like ‘Die By My Hand’ sound punchy and heavy, so after hearing a song like ‘To Your Brethren in the Dark’, I can’t help but feel the production could’ve been better.

    • thornh

      Yes, Satyricon have carved out their own Black Metal niche. I have considered them “radio friendly” Black Metal for a while now. Satyr himself referred to their style as “rock-oriented black metal”. Hence, to me, they fall more in the Black ‘n’ Roll category these days.

      • Eli Valcik

        They have always seemed to proggy and at some times too post to be Black ‘n’ Roll. My poster child for that genera is I(Abbath’s) Between Two Worlds. To me that genera is the sum of the sleaze from speed, guitars from Black Metal and the in your face-ness of Motorhead. I would label newer Satyricon as Post/Prog Black Metal.

        • Wilhelm

          Nothing prog when most songs primarily consist of three power chords and 4/4 drums patterns.

    • Kelevra

      All those nice bands, that create really nice and proper tunes… It’s a shame to see all this hard work, ruined by a muddy production…

  • Jaime VG

    I remember hating the production on the self titled but ended up loving it because of how organic and simple it was. This sounds like it is a continuation of that sound but a little bit more agressive. Love the two song I have heard so far.

  • David Prawira

    It’s pretty good

  • azerate

    I keep thinking this is the album Satyricon should’ve been. This doesn’t have awkward and frankly childish choruses. It retains the same production, a very warm sounding mix. I didn’t like it the first time in 2013, but it’s grown on me, this time I was excited to hear it. I like this border line black metal, it’s not stagnant at all, it just feels like Satyr and Frost wanted it to sound like this.

  • PanzerFistDominatrix

    That is one ugly cover – I mean, look at that skull drawing, it’s so bad…

    • Wilhelm

      It’s a sketch from a famous artist Edward Munch. He’s best known for his painting “The Scream” which is brilliant. I’m not a big fan of this sketch though.

      • PanzerFistDominatrix

        The sketch is by Munch? I like some of Munch’s work and being Norwegian and generally depressive it might be a good black metal match. This sketch still sucks though. Anyway, thanks for pointing it out!

  • Septic
    • Monsterth Goatom

      I was more like… Agent Cooper?

      • Eldritch Elitist

        Wow, good catch.

    • Ser Black Phillip

      “So what are we…some kind of Satyricon squad?’

  • Metal and Hockey

    Heard the title track when it was released and immediately pre ordered it. Really looking forward to hearing the whole thing. I personally don’t think Satyricon has a weak album in their discography

  • Here’s Johnny

    The self-titled album was atrocious, this is much better. Even though i enjoyed a lot of the tracks i still get the feeling something is missing. The ultra dry production doesn’t help matters, could also be anyone on drums.

  • Wilhelm

    I’m always holding out hope for a good Satyricon disc, but every one since the unique Rebel Extravaganza has been dull dull dull. Dull riffs, boring vocals, lacluster percussion (Frost WAS god, at one time) overproduced/digitized pedestrian black n roll – verse/chorus/verse song structure and cheeseball lyrics. I’m listening to Urarv, a new band of Aldrahn (ex-Dodheimsgard), and it blows this away. Hell, the new Wolves in the throne Room sounds more Norwegian Black Metal.

    • Phosphenetre

      I have to take objection with the ‘overproduced/digitalized’ bit. Especially this album and the self-titled one before it – the polar opposite of overproduced and ‘digital’ sounding. Both very warm, vintage and stripped-down on the production and mix front.

  • Trickster G

    A strong return to form that combines the best elements of all the past records, and this gets a full point less than Abbath’s debut? Nor do I understand why this record would be divisive (apart from the cover art) or why it ‘barely qualifies as black metal’. Because it doesn’t sound like early Darkthrone? Who subscribes to such a narrow view of the genre anyway?

  • Black Metal Mega-Sonic-Purista

    Not bad, but too predictable, like a friend always states: Metallica is metal for girls, Satyricon are nowadays black metal for girls ;)
    This record is better than the last one, but tbh, I don’t know why I should listen to this, my archives are filled with lots of far better records waiting for me. I should add Rebel Extravaganza is my favorite one of Satyricon’s oeuvre.

  • Sounds like it wants to go somewhere, but never really does. I never thought they were strong enough musicians to pull off the duo concept. Saw them live and it was horribly confirmed.

  • Cockypock Aioli

    Satyricon albums are always good for a few boring moments. This album is no exception. Overall though, the music is fresh and inspired. As was mentioned in the review, I just wish they would have gone farther with the weird and experimental elements.

    • Wilhelm

      Experimental/Avant Garde Satyricon birthed and peaked in Rebel Extravaganza, which was brilliant. They need to play to their strengths and quit writing songs with plodding traditional rock structures; their creativity is as dry as their production.

  • Monsterth Goatom

    I quite like this style. I’m not afraid to admit I don’t really know these guys, but now I’m going to go back and check out Nemesis Divina and Dark Medieval Times.

    • Death_Black_Metal_Fanatic

      Good choice. Listen to The Shadowthrone too.

      • Monsterth Goatom

        Thanks.

  • manimal

    Real drums!

  • Mattias Niklasson

    While Satyricon after Nemesis Divina certainly has their own sound it does absolutely nothing for me, same goes for this album.

  • Dark Self

    The first three songs sounds like they are straight from KING, which is a good thing.

    Then come the Deep song…

    After that it is terribly boring. Certainly their worst album overall, even if the first three songs are better than any other songs in their 2 previous album…

    And THANKS GOD, not fucking phenix risen horribility!

    S