SATYRICON – Nemesis Divina – reissue
It is hard to believe that 20 years have passed since the original Moonfog release of Nemesis Divina. Back then, Satyricon were arguably among the leading acts in the Norwegian BM scene, and time has shown this release to be the most revered and respected of the band’s output in over two decades. This Napalm reissue features a re-mastering job done by Satyr himself. I can’t say it is anything long term fans of the band would find offensive or off-putting, and it definitely stands up well for any of the youngsters out there who are used to modern digital production techniques.
Back in the day, I tried my best to get into Satyricon, following their career onwards from this record for a decade or so up til when their evolution took a few of its larger steps towards the blackrocking Satyricon of recent years. Nemesis Divina was the closet I came to really identifying with the band and understanding their music, but I still didn’t get there 100%. This is the reason I was so interested in renewing my acquaintance with the band to see how my feelings towards them have changed over the years.
The short answer is – not much at all. The first problem is the band’s approach to song-writing. Each track moves through a vast array of musical passages as Satyr churns out riff after riff and Frost works his way through his repertoire of punishing beats. However, each new section is not necessarily the optimal place for the song to go next. The approach reminds me of Marduk on ‘Dark Endless.’ The fact that the band were still learning to put together a functioning song is apparent by the ‘ok now let’s do this’ kind of feel to the music, and that is the same kind of feel I get from 90’s era Satyricon. The fact that the band were so popular and got so far was because so many of the individual parts were such killer pieces of music in their own right, but by no means did they function as coherent ‘songs’. The next problem for me was the atmosphere. Satyricon did their fair share of running around the forests of their homeland with spiky clubs, but they never really felt like a black metal act in terms of sound. Yes, they were cold and the treble was turned to max, but the sound was a little too clean and there was too much middle and it was too light on bottom end to give it that truly necro feel.
If you haven’t heard Satyricon before and want to try the band out, this album is the best place to start and this version is the best version to go for. Despite all of my moaning and groaning, it is an exceptional odyssey and an extremely skilful, original and individualistic take on 90’s NBM.