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All Evil (1992)

Recorded and released in the summer of 1992, All Evil is the first demo from Satyricon. This offering is quite interesting, having very little to do with the sound that the band would become known for. It's the only recording to feature the original line-up of Lemarchand, Wargod, Exhurtum and the soon-to-be usurper, Satyr.

All Evil is quite brief, consisting really of just two actual songs, the title track and "Dreams of Satyr". The style is really stripped-down and primitive, bearing almost no resemblance to Dark Medieval Times. Lacking any synth to use as a crutch, the barbaric and gritty vibe is derived solely from traditional instruments. The sound is definitely a mixture of black and death metal, perhaps leaning a bit more toward the former. The raspy vocals, toned-down drumming and some of the more droning riffs near the end of the two primary tracks aid in creating this feeling. Strangely, the opening riff of "All Evil" sounds as if it influenced the song "Lifeless", from Darkthrone's Ravishing Grimness. The songwriting is a little disjointed, as the faster riffs and lead solos seem to come from nowhere. "Dreams of Satyr" is more straightforward, for the most part, and flows better in general.

The production is about as lousy as a demo tape from 1992 would lead one to expect, though nothing near as raw or necro as Wrath of the Tyrant or Yggdrasil. It could almost be compared to the early Thorns material, though with a weaker guitar that seems buried in the background by comparison. As well, the bass is too audible at certain points, giving a rather warm feeling to the music.

Obviously, All Evil is a recording that pre-dates Satyr's takeover of the band and subsequent fascination with the likes of Burzum and Darkthrone, so it is rather unique within Satyricon's discography. The death metal aspects aren't anywhere near as violent and intense as the likes of Amputation or Thou Shalt Suffer, and the black metal side doesn't come close to being as dark as the other releases that were emerging from Norway around this time. That said, it isn't a bad little dose of early '90s black/death metal and is worth a listen or two.
(10 July 2016)


Satyricon was never what I would consider to be one of the better black metal bands to come from Norway. When compared to the core bands like Mayhem, Burzum, Darkthrone, Immortal, Emperor, Gorgoroth and Enslaved, Satyricon ranks beneath every single one of them. While so many of the aforementioned bands seemed to be carrying the torch of old school black metal, while adding their own vision, Satyr, Lemarchand and Frost came off as having really no connection to the First Wave bands. In fact, rather than taking inspiration from the '80s, they seemed to be among the first that were influenced directly by their countrymen, instead. The Forest Is My Throne, released in 1993, is a prime example of this.

Musically, the first thing that comes into mind is Darkthrone. Of course, the songwriting is nowhere near as talented and fails to conjure up the same kind of dark atmosphere, but there does appear to be some attempt to follow in the footsteps of Nocturno Culto, Fenriz and Zephyrous. From the fast-paced tremolo riffs of "Black Winds" to the old school rhythms of the title track, this sounds heavily inspired by A Blaze in the Northern Sky. While one can say that Darkthrone were merely carrying on what bands like Bathory and Hellhammer started, no one can deny that they also added their own ideas to it and made something special. Satyricon just seems generic and unoriginal. There is hardly any point in mentioning the instrumental track, as its presence here adds absolutely nothing. There guys were not very creative and the music is clearly directionless. Outside of imitating their fellow Norwegians, it is obvious that they had nothing to say with this release.

The production is fairly raw and that is about the only positive thing that one can say about this. At least the guitar has a razor-sharp sound, which suits the first track more than the others. This sounds rather decent for a demo, certainly lacking the necro qualities found on releases like Wrath of the Tyrant or Under A Funeral Moon. The guitar tone is not too far off from that which would later be featured on the band's debut album, but the drums are much less clear and low enough in the mix to refrain from being annoying.

The Forest Is My Throne is certainly not essential. Its best selling point is that it includes at least one fairly decent song (by Satyricon's standards) that isn't drowned in synth nonsense, which gives a good idea of what the band could have sounded like. If you truly feel that you must have this, go for the reissue that also includes Enslaved's Yggdrasill demo. At least, that way, you'll get your money's worth.
(7 Sept. 2012)

Dark Medieval Times (1993)

Satyricon started as a death metal band. Neither Satyr nor Frost are original members of the band, as they more or less inherited it and opted for the Norwegian black metal sound, as many bands did around this time. The lyrics are dark, but not actually Satanic. Satyr once claimed that their style was 'Medieval metal', for whatever that is worth. Satyricon is one of the last bands to emerge from the Norwegian scene, around this time, and it is clear that, despite creating decent music, they were simple followers of those that came before them. This is more of an instance of people being in the right place at the right time (as can be seen by the fact that they got bored with this style within a couple years and moved on to something else).

Dark Medieval Times was recorded in the Ancient Spectre Ruins, in the late summer months of 1993, and is the first album to be released on Moonfog Productions. The lineup consists only of Satyr (on vocals, guitars and keyboards) and Frost (on drums). The cover artwork, by Jannicke Wiese-Hansen, is very pleasing to the eye and well-suited to the music, while also being similar to that found on the early Burzum albums (of course, with the same artist).

"Walk the Path of Sorrow" opens the album with strange keyboard effects, imbuing the listener with the sense of an upcoming battle. This really does well to create a medieval atmosphere and, despite the obvious influences shown by this band, they did take an original approach to it as well. Once the music really begins, the first thing that comes to mind is Burzum. One must wonder how far the Ancient Spectre Ruins are from Grieghallen, as this doesn't sound far removed. Even the unrestrained vocal approach seems similar to what Varg has done. There is a lot of acoustic guitar use, giving kind of a mystical feeling to the song. There are several tempo changes, as this doesn't remain the same for very long at all. About mid-way through, the song speeds up, with blasting drums and tremolo riffs, though the riffs aren't actually anything special. The atmosphere is being created by the keyboards, more than anything, which takes away from the music. That is, probably, my greatest problem with this band; if you strip away the keyboards, you are left with mediocre riffs far too often. The melodies are actually pretty good and could, easily, have been played on the guitar instead of relying on the synth. But none of this is meant to say that this isn't a good song.

The next song is "Dark Medieval Times", maintaining the ethereal atmosphere from the previous song. This is an epic composition, possessing a dark and eerie atmosphere. The guitars are cold and harsh. The vocals, while sounding very inspired by Varg, have a lot of feeling and suit the music just fine. There are silent sections, with only acoustic guitars, whispered vocals and the sound of freezing winds blowing. This is followed by very intense drumming and frenzied guitar riffs that actually just serve as an interlude before the acoustic guitar returns, now accompanied by a flute. What comes after is another riff that sounds like it belongs on Hvis Lyset Tar Oss.

"Skyggedans" is fairly mid-paced. Satyr's vocals sound closer to those of Nocturno Culto, on this song, while some of the riffs are not so different from In the Nightside Eclipse, but the use of acoustic guitars and the medieval atmosphere is purely Satyricon. The song never speeds up beyond a simple gallop, and the keyboard use is pretty minimal. Again, some of these riffs really do sound very similar to Burzum.

"Min Hyllest Til Vinterland" opens with the sound of wind and acoustic guitars, making for a very calm and almost serene feeling. One might even be reminded of certain passages from Viking-era Bathory. The song gives the feeling of riding through the dark woods, late at night, during the winter.

The calm feeling established on the previous track continues during the opening moments of "Into the Mighty Forest", yet this song does erupt with freezing cold fury, utilizing fast tremolo strumming and blast beats. Satyricon never keeps the same pace for too long, as this slows down and becomes more mid-paced. Satyr's throat sounds shredded, which goes well with the dark atmosphere created on this song. The only complaint would be the use of keyboards. On this particular song, they seem to realize that keyboards are meant to accentuate the atmosphere, not to be the sole source of it. However, one could argue that this really didn't need anything extra, as it is one of the best composed songs on the whole album.

"The Dark Castle in the Deep Forest" begins with another tortured scream. The vocals seem to be kind of low on this song, with a doomy synth line overpowering most of the instruments, in the early moments. There is a break, leaving only the eerie synth, before the guitars return. The winter landscape is in the embrace of morbid shadows. The atmosphere becomes more sinister as the song progresses. Even in the faster riffs, the medieval melodies are present, rather than just being found in the acoustic sections. One can feel the desolation of this ruined castle, far beyond all human realms, in the deepest forest. Over the course of the song, you are dragged from the murky forest and taken deeper into the castle, finally chained and tortured in the dungeon below.

The album ends with "Taakeslottet". This song begins with a desperate scream, tremolo riffs and double bass, yet quickly slows down to an atmospheric crawl. The vocals are whispered, at first, adding to the haunting feeling.

The criticism aimed at this album is not meant to imply that it is bad, by any means. It is simply my opinion that it could have been even better, at certain points, especially regarding the keyboard use. What Satyricon has done here is something original, within the framework laid down by their primary inspirations. Whereas with the earlier Norwegian bands you hear their 80s influences, this sounds very much inspired by those bands of the early '90s black metal scene in Norway; the prime example being Burzum, though there are small traces of Darkthrone, Mayhem and even Emperor to be found here. This is not to say that Dark Medieval Times is completely derivative of these bands; Satyr and Frost have taken this and added their own unique vision to it to establish a sound all their own. Satyricon was only ever a second-tier band, at best, and has since dropped into creative obscurity. Nonetheless, their debut L.P. remains a worthwhile listen.
(27 Jan. 2009)

The Shadowthrone (1994)

In the spring of 1995, Satyricon entered the studio to begin work on their sophomore effort. Within a few months, this music, that had been composed between 1991 and 1993, was recorded and mixed. In September 1994, Satyr and Frost joined the ranks of Norwegian bands that continued to make rapid progression. The Shadowthrone is very much a continuation of what they began of Dark Medieval Times, yet it shows a band that has already matured by leaps and bounds. It retains the feeling of the previous album, while not being plagued by any fear of experimentation.

To be quite honest, my knowledge of this album is fairly inadequate. I've owned it for many years, but Satyricon has never been a band that I listened to very often. When such a notion does cross my mind, I'm more likely to reach for their debut album than this one. It's a shame, since I always find myself remembering how much I like certain songs (or, simply, particular riffs) when I do take the time to give it a listen.

"Kampen mot Gud og hvitekrist er igang!"

Satyr's voice is filled with a vicious hatred as these venomous words spew forth to open the "Hvite Krists Død". From these earliest moments, it's quite clear who this is. Satyricon's style was cemented on this release. Though bearing similarities to some of their Norwegian contemporaries, they forged a style of their own. Everything sounds a bit tighter and more crisp, with the passage of time. Even the vocals are more concentrated and lethal. The keyboards are ever-present, which is probably one of the key factors in keeping me from this album. Like so many others, I have a bit of prejudice when it comes to this, though Satyricon are one of the few bands that manage to pull it off well. I still say that a lot of their music would be just as effective (or moreso) without this. A few minutes in, there is a very somber section which features only some keyboard lines and a spoken word part. His accent is quite thick and, though he's speaking Norwegian, he might as well be conveying his message in Romanian. Perhaps, I'm alone in this impression. Musically, the song has an epic sense about it, consisting of various melodies and a wide range of tempos that all flow together, seamlessly. There's even a bit of piano, later in the song. The choir of clean vocals, near the end, fit the atmosphere as well.

The next song is one of my favorites from this band. "In the Mist By the Hills" features some of the best riffs of the band's discography. It begins with an open-arpeggio riff, soon joined by a tortured scream and faint use of keyboards to accentuate the mood. The typical Satyricon style of riffing soon rears its head, having what I would have to call an almost folk-like quality to the rhythm. The drumming is fairly relaxed, not unlike what one might find on a mid-paced Burzum track. A couple minutes into the song, the pace quickens and the listener is assaulted with deadly-accurate drumming and a freezing cold tremolo melody that is one of the finest of the era. However, it's all too short as the riff changes and the keyboards become slightly more dominant. As on the previous song, the music is very dynamic. They don't stick to the same thing for too long. Despite his fragile appearance, Frost certainly displays a lot of power and skill behind the kit. As the pace alternate back and forth, more cold tremolo riffs are unleashed, lulling you into a trance. The only real complaint is that the one melody, from earlier in the song, never returns. But they make up for this with the incredible and epic guitar riffs that annihilate you in the latter moments of this piece.

"Woods To Eternity" wastes no time in getting right down to business. The opening riff is ephemeral, as it is soon replaced by a more generic tremolo melody that reminds one of Emperor's debut L.P. As before, nothing remains the same for too long. There is another transition to a mid-paced riff, followed by a section featuring only the guitars and the hateful vocals. Once the drums return, they carry the maelstrom of northern fury right into your blackened heart, as a chilling tremolo riff carves you to pieces. Just when you think you can take no more, it all stops. All is relatively silent, as an acoustic melody takes over, with the electric guitars in the background. If you enjoy getting lost, deep in the forest in the middle of winter, this is certainly the music you'd want to take along with you. Despite the aggressive sound, it's actually quite peaceful.

This is followed by "Vikingland", which starts out with a pretty catchy riff, with vocals that alternate between clean and harsh. Don't let the title fool you into expecting anything similar to the 'Viking-era' Bathory material, for this is something far different, being more akin to Isengard or Storm. This song is solid enough, though nothing about it really stands out from the rest, aside from the really memorable riffs. A few minutes into the song, the music fades out and is replaced by the sound of cold winds and Satyr sounding menacing as ever. A mid-paced riff follows, accompanied by some chanting, to finish out the track.

At nine and a half minutes, "Dominions of Satyricon" is the longest song on here. It opens with some sort of pompous intro, sounding almost like a war march. Another folk-inspired guitar riff is joined by a mid-paced drum beat in the early moments. You get the sense that this is all building up to something spectacular. And then it hits. From :59 to 1:53, a mournful, icy cold tremolo riff is unleashed. Such pain as it tears right through your flesh, staining the snow on the ground with your crimson life-force. It's so cold that it almost burns, yet it hurts so good. It is the single greatest minute of music that this band ever composed. And this is why I hate Satyricon. They give you this great riff and then it's gone. They fail to build on this and never even think to return to it, throughout the remaining seven and a half minutes. This is completely unacceptable. It's an act almost criminal. The rest of the song features a variety of tempos and riffs, all coming together to create one of the most epic tracks of this band's existence. The atmosphere is so cold and dark that you can practically feel the winds biting at your flesh. There are still some similarities to Burzum, found here, and this is one song where this is evident. The keyboards are utilized, throughout, but not in a poor manner. Satyr sounds nearly possessed, later in the song. His screams are filled with a deadly passion, though still not as unrestrained as on Dark Medieval Times. This very well may be the best song on the album, though I've never gotten over the disappointment of that first time. I remember listening to this monumental song, unable to fully appreciate it because I was waiting for that one melody to return, even if for but a minute or so. Nearing the conclusion, there's a keyboard section that begins to take your mind to some other place, but it's all too brief. You only get a quick glimpse into this other reality; not long enough to even form a memory.

"The King of the Shadowthrone" is up next. In the early moments, they utilize some very nice melodies that are actually reminiscent of something from Lunar Strain, by In Flames. It is nicely blended with Satyricon's trademark sound, so that it isn't easily noticed by all. While maintaining a faster pace, throughout much of the song, this one is not unlike the rest. It is far from static. This song goes to show, just like the previous one, that they really had less use for keyboards than they thought, as they were fully capable of creating a majestic atmosphere through guitar riffs, alone. Also worth mentioning is that the vocals seem to draw less inspiration from Varg (As on Dark Medieval Times) and are more in the vein of Nocturno Culto. There's another acoustic section, near the end, which makes it apparent that they got better at working these parts into the songs, this time around. On the last album, these parts could, sometimes, cause the songs to sound a little disjointed. However, on The Shadowthrone, they've really come into their own in more ways than one.

"I En Svart Kiste" is synth piece, serving as a mystical outro. It bears some otherworldy feeling. It is dark, yet you are drawn forth by some unknown force. You cannot see, but you can somehow feel that you are meant to follow it. This meaningless existence is but a mere nightmare from which you are soon to wake up. This is the impression you get. It's like those dreams where you wake up and remember nothing more than a feeling that you belonged there more than here. This is what this song conveys. It doesn't matter that it may be luring you to your utter demise; you can feel some strange connection to the unknown; like memories embedded in your soul, from a previous life. The sound of the organ signifies your passing from this realm to that of darkness. Into the unknown you fall, willingly, as you know there must be something more than this feeble reality. As it all fades to black, you have no regret, for this miserable existence is nothing to mourn...
(1 Sept. 2009)


Nemesis Divina is the third full-length album from the Norwegian band Satyricon, and the last of their black metal period. Following this, they would show themselves to be yet another group of pathetic posers that were inspired by the real black metal bands in Norway, but then lacked any inspiration to continue down that path once all of their mentors had faded into obscurity. Released on Moonfog in 1996, this album is most notable for witnessing the height of Satyr's treachery against the scene.

In the early 90s, Darkthrone were among the elite in the Norwegian black metal movement. However, as a result of participating in far too many projects and getting burnt out, Fenriz became lazy and less creative than he once was. As the band signed to Satyr's label, they had already completed work on the last of their classic albums, Panzerfaust. Now that he had lured them to Moonfog, Satyr managed to assist in the near-demise of Darkthrone. Horrible production and awful artwork rendered Total Death to be a lame duck album, as well as the gimmick of allowing outsiders to contribute lyrics. Then, taking advantage of Nocturno Culto's desire to perform live and to remain busy, now that his cohort was losing steam, Satyr welcomed him into the Satyricon fold and dubbed him Kveldulv. What one can clearly hear on Nemesis Divina is the cold and precise guitar playing that once belonged to Darkthrone, now being utilized to add credibility to the third-tier band that had long followed in the footsteps of great bands. While this may or may not have any basis in reality, it was a scenario that popped into my mind many years ago and it seemed worth sharing.

This record represents the end of an era, yet it is no real loss. It is not terrible, just certainly not as enjoyable or worthwhile as many would have you believe. The band seems quite capable in handling their instruments, and they once again used Waterfall Studios and got a sound not too far removed from that of The Shadowthrone. By this point, Satyr's vocals have lost almost any hint of the Varg-worship that was present on Dark Medieval Times, now firmly in a more derivative style that owed a lot to his new bandmate.

As for the songwriting, Nemesis Divina shows Satyricon aiming for a much more straightforward approach, though many of the less-than-stellar tendencies remain. Songs such as "The Dawn of a New Age" feature some very intense and bitter cold guitar riffs, as played by Nocturno Culto himself. This would be one of the best songs of the band's career, had they not allowed some feeble whore to speak over the middle section. This obsession with female vocals really infected far too much of the scene, back in the 90s.

As the album progresses, one may notice that the synth is not quite as dominant as it was on the two previous albums, which is a positive thing. Still, one gets that sense that while many of the early Norwegian bands were influenced by the first wave black metal of the 80s, Satyricon's influences don't go much further than the early '90s output from their fellow countrymen. They are also guilty of, perhaps, being the first black metal band to make a song that was directly aimed at the female portion of their audience, the pandering "Mother North". This is almost contrasted by "Du Son Hater Gud", though the weak piano piece at the end kills the atmosphere.

Such is the case, throughout the album. They show brief hints of talent, and then wipe them away with some mediocre nonsense that has no place in black metal. Had these guys ever really possessed a good solid understanding of what black metal was about in the first place, perhaps they could have avoided such mishaps. Nemesis Divina is not a complete waste of time, but I would recommend listening to albums that don't require you to skip through various sections of the songs. The material here could be cut and edited to form a half-way decent E.P. but as a full-length it leaves a lot to be desired. Satyricon was never really one of the better bands from the Norwegian scene anyway, so it's no big deal.

(4 Sept. 2011)

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