Now, Diabolical is the sixth studio release from Norwegian Black Metal (BM) trio Satyricon. BM is often viewed as an inaccessible genre, a ferocious peak which only veteran headbangers can ascend. In many cases this is true enough, not everyone has the stamina to withstand a relentless onslaught of blastbeats. If you think that’s all there is to this genre then You’re selling it short.
Now, Diabolical is a great example of out of the box thinking when it comes to BM. The tittle track opener starts with a driving chug riff which gives the song the feel of a marching song. Around half way there’s a plodding/droning riff which would feel at home on an early Black Sabbath or Cathedral record. In many ways this album would serve as a good introduction to the genre because it doesn’t have the fire that a release from Watain or Dimmu Borgir might have. In fact minus the lyrical content/vocal style it could pass as a hard rock CD. K.I.N.G is a radio friendly cut with a catchy chorus, probably my least favourite track because there’s nothing I can sink my teeth into. The Pentagram Burns adds a bit more texture with subtle use of keys. A New Enemy is more aggressive and has a groove to it that makes me want to headbang. In contrast, the intro to The Rite of Our Cross is dark and brooding with its clever use of strings Methodical pacing gives the song an otherworldly feeling. That Darkness Shall Be Eternal finds vocalist Satyr at his fire breathing best, searing his words on your eardrums back up by a tidal wave of molten riff-lava. Awesome. A welcome respite comes in the form of Delirium a slow track that smoulders more than it burns. Closer To the Mountains borrows from all the songs that went before it and rounds the album off in style with a looped riff before leaving the listener reeling from its sudden finish.
As I said at the top, this is a perfect album from BM newcomers. It has all the elements you’d expect from a release in that genre, without pounding you to death from the first bar to the last
I will return