Satyricon may not be the first band to come to mind when discussing Norwegian Black Metal but they have their place in its history. Around since the dawn of the 90s as a Death Metal outfit the group quickly switched to the new rebellious sound, releasing a couple of demo's before the scene blew up in the wake of scandalous church burning and murder. After a handful of records some consider classics, the duo Frost and Satyr strayed from the scenes roots leading into the millennium and developed their slower, discordant, somewhat atmospheric take on the music which has never received much critical acclaim but has grown them an niche audience.
Their last release, the self titled, was said to be a real stinker and so I gave it a pass, thus arriving at this new release with pretty low expectations. "Deep Calleth Upon Deep" is a murmuring stroll of a record that wanders through its various arrangements of ideas at a leisurely pace. With little urgency and barely any gusto the duo muster together riffs in a dull and dark setting. The tone is drab, linear and aesthetically rather flat despite a crisp distortion tone. The music is all guitar led and the only apparent chemistry is between the weaving riffs and Frost who throws down uninspired beats in varying degrees of intensity as Satyr wails thin and grisly half screams on queue with the songs tempo.
Monochromatic is the word that comes to mind, this record is narrow and lifeless. In an odd way there is a charm about its one dimensional vision. Something I think a different listener might find get a kick from but for me it was mostly dull bar an occasional moment to perk the ears. Everything here is driven by one guitar track, interlining sliding guitar leads and plucked notes between low end power chords. On occasional its technically impressive, almost always leaning into the unusual and unexpected spectrum of composition but lacking the inspiration to whisk these ideas into proper songs.
In a scattering of moments other sounds enter the music like half baked ideas. Satanic, worrisome operatic chants wobble in the distance with a guest vocal on the title track. The opening of "Dissonant" includes avant-garde trumpet playing buried under the guitars and wherever another dimension of sound opens up its always half committed, taking the wind out of its sails. Disappointing, this record could have been better as it does encroach on a unique flavor and moments of interest but with mainly weak and forgettable tracks it plays like a grey wash of blandness.
Favorite Tracks: Deep Calleth Upon Deep, Burial Rite