Album Review: Satyricon & Munch – Satyricon

I do expect quite a lot of a new Satyricon album. I expect greatness. I expect a lot of fun reading the social media comments from fans of Satyricon’s first albums who want them to do again the music they did as teenagers.

I didn’t expect to like this album at first. This is the piece they wrote for the exhibition they did at the Munchmuseet, Oslo, so it is not made up of “songs.” It is to some extent what I was expecting, except for needing a while to understand the album. Mainly because this music goes directly to your subconscious. I have been playing it a lot for five days now and I am very much in love with it. Very experimental, but not as “dark ambient” as I was expecting.

This is not a new Wongraven album (not that I would have hated to have one), but to call this Black Metal – as Satyr does – is a bit of a stretch. Many fans of the style will be terribly disappointed. Have they not got used to the idea that Satyricon is never going to do a new The Shadowthrone? And why should they? Nevertheless, I perfectly understand Satyr’s position.

[Photo Credit: Morten Andersen]

This is not just about marketing. The piece does have the spirit of Black Metal at its core. And, by all the noise and orchestration, the melodies are true Satyricon. One has to remember this is music made to be enjoyed in an Edvard Munch exhibition. The idea is that this work combines with and highlights the pictures. But it does also work without any visual support. Like the best Norwegian Black Metal, this music can create its own pictures in the mind of the listener. And it does so amazingly well.

There are no blast beats, and the percussion is overall sparse. Even the guitars are not ubiquitous in the composition. They appear regularly to create highlights of tension through the piece, just like the discrete drums. The parts between those moments of tension are not merely boring bridges.

This album is one hour of exciting music for the attentive and somewhat open-minded listener. Considering its length, it flows in a very entertaining way. Most Metal albums will bore you at some point if the artists try to make them this long. But not Satyricon & Munch.

Traditionalists and haters are going to hate this a lot. And that is another reason why this has the spirit of Black Metal. My recommendation: give it a try when you have a moment to concentrate on the listening experience. I bloody love this album. The more I listen to it, the more I want to listen to it.

Rating: 5/5

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