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Album Reviews : Satyricon – Deep Calleth upon Deep

By on September 28, 2017

Sigurd Wongraven AKA Satyr and Kjetil-Vidar Haraldstad AKA Frost have been performing blackish metal since at least Dark Medieval Times (’94).

By ’94, to preface your bands brand of heavy metal as ‘black metal’ was not so much an invitation by naughty Scandinavian post-teens to provoke harsh sniggers and sideways glances as they wore bargain store capes and ghoulish make-up at gigs and festivals through the era, it was far more a line in the sand drawn by socially isolated and alienated youth to focus their immense energy into something genuinely sinister and legitimately criminal.

Black metals leading light of the era, Mayhem, experienced tragedy and macabre celebrity during Satyricon’s burgeoning phases; Vocalist and lyricist Per Yngve Ohlin AKA Dead, committed suicide in ’91 with the pictorial evidence featuring as the cover of the bands bootleg live album, Dawn of the Black Hearts (’95). More notoriously, Mayhem’s then bass guitarist, Varg Vikernes AKA Count Grishnackh (Burzum) would stand trial and be convicted of the murder of the band’s guitarist, Øystein Aarseth AKA Eurynomos in ’94.

Vikernes and Aarseth, along with Emperor guitarist Tomas Haugen AKA Samoth and sometime Emperor drummer and percussionist Bård Eithun AKA ‘Faust’ would all be convicted in ’94 for church arsons committed in ’92, the same year Eithun would even add to his vulgar reputation via the murder of a gay man.

Frankly, the previous two paragraphs contents are more than enough to put you off the genre, particularly the murder of a poor soul through a hate crime and the burning of beautiful old wooden churches whose congregation are likely the innocently pious and elderly.

Why is any of this relevant to a Satyricon review?

Wongraven and Haraldstad have stuck fast to what they know best for 25 years; Rock’n’roll infused with the very best elements of early 90’s era black metal.

Wongraven and Haraldstad were never involved in church burnings, hate crimes and there were certainly no murders of bandmates and musical rivals committed by either.

With the greatest of respect to Satyricon’s Scandinavian peers and black metal representatives caught up innocently in the genre’s well-deserved reputation for criminal activity, if Deep Calleth Upon Deep was your only yardstick for black metal and by extension the catalogue of work produced by Wongraven and Haraldstad, then you would be looking at a blue-chip genre forged under the banner of heavy metal.

Deep Calleth Upon Deep is a thoroughly entertaining listen for all fans of metal and that is where I am going to pitch this review.

If you like your metal thoughtful and introspective, a companion to compliment a glass of fine red wine or playing in the background as you entertain friends and prepare a meal worthy of the more refined palette, then this is for you.

It was more than my own good fortune to find myself face to face with Wongraven over Skype recently, the contents of that discussion will appear as a special feature episode of my show on 4ZZZ Digital and podcast series. Wongraven is a musician and artist that I have long looked to for both inspiration and entertainment. His stoic determination to beat a recent cancer diagnosis as a husband and parent is similarly matched by his creative drive to produce high-quality music, of any genre and description.

Wongraven is an artist that deserves far better than the short attention spans of listeners in 2017.

How many so-called ‘trve’ black metal fans will give Deep Calleth Upon Deep it’s deserved due through a dedicated listen, free of distraction then acknowledge the Edvard Munch album cover art of skeletal ‘suāvium’ is as much a revelation for heavy metal as it is for black metal?

Revered as one of the art world’s greatest proponents of Expressionism and Symbolism, the artwork Munch created in the late 1800’s has found a fitting home 120 years later through the aural accompaniment of Deep Calleth Upon Deep.

Wongraven isn’t trying to be a smart arse by adopting Munch’s work as the album cover. A proud Norwegian and follower of the fine arts, this is a bloke that recognises the common thread in the DNA of all great artistic collaborations. Wongraven has reached a point in his career that a collaboration with a globally recognised figure, a Norwegian one at that, is a fitting testament to the accomplishment the album cuts on Deep Calleth Upon Deep reach.

The musical narrative on Deep Calleth Upon Deep is best taken as a unit rather than as an album isolated by standout tracks. Wongraven’s very audible black metal vocal leans heavily on themes relating to Norwegian scenery and landscapes, backed by riffs in even time signatures broken up by the unpredictable changes in Haraldstad’s drumming and percussion.

Haraldstad isn’t just a great black metal drummer, he would be an excellent session musician for so many metal bands that lack the considered approach of his playing based on his performance on Deep Calleth Upon Deep. His performance on the album is a career highlight and aspiring drummers should pay close attention to his percussive methodology.

Easy on the ears, senses and overwhelmingly invigorating, Wongraven and Haraldstad have produced an album that will sit well with mature listeners and the more considered blackish metal fans.

I appreciate that the review is light on song descriptors and musical references, that’s because I want you to at least sample what I feel will be the landmark release of 2017.

Only Venom Inc’s. epic ‘comeback’ album Avé will vie for #1 in my year-end album poll thus far.

Band: Satyricon
Album: Deep Calleth upon Deep
Year: 2017
Genre: Black Metal
Label:  Napalm Records
Origin: Norway

About

Andrew is a musician who has spent many years performing on the stages of the pubs and clubs of Queensland. A devotee of the broad church that is rock, punk, funk, jazz and of course all genres of metal... he now shares his enthusiasm via a burgeoning pursuit of music journalism. Follow him on twitter @andymckaysmith