Satyricon have been a band for over 25 years now, during which time they have transitioned from a black metal band into more of a hybrid incorporating large elements of traditional heavy metal. Deep Calleth Upon Deep is their ninth full length record, and for a band that plays such expansive music it was completed very quickly, with just six months between news of entering the studio and the release in September.
This was my first introduction to Satyricon, and as such I was surprised by the lack of extremity on display. When one hears the term black metal, one expects blast beats and searing pace, but for the large majority of this album, the tempo is middling and at no point does it feel extreme in the manner of something like Behemoth. That is not to say that it has lost all its black metal trappings; the production values are not pushed sky high and it still sounds rough and relatively unpolished. Having said this, although it lacks the speed and outright extremity, you could never claim that this album is not heavy, with crunching guitar tones and a mix that has the drums thumping in your ears.
Deep Calleth Upon Deep takes a few tracks to really warm up it’s engine, and while the likes of Midnight Serpent and To Your Brethren in the Dark are still very good (the latter especially with its foreboding feel and Nordic themes), it really kicks up a gear when it hits the title track. The chorus of Deep Calleth Upon Deep drives along on the kind of anthemic cyclical guitar riff that Iron Maiden have made a key part of their sound in recent years and the vocal refrain is made to be growled back at the band by avid crowds. And just because the traditional metal features are evident throughout this album, do not be fooled into thinking that Satyricon are now some kind of retro band lacking forward thought. They always put their own stamp onto these ideas, be it through Frost’s pounding and inventive drum beats or the additional elements like operatic backing vocals on the title track or strange horns that open Dissonance.
While some may chide a band like Satyricon for daring to set foot outside the walls of black metal, it certainly serves them well, as they have provided one of the best metal albums of the year with Deep Calleth Upon Deep.