Over recent years, black metal has become one of the most varied of sub-genres. Evolving constantly and bands branching away from the usual sound, covering everything from the shiny ultra produced symphonic sound to ambient shoegaze material right through to the raw primitive cacophonies reminiscent of the late 80’s / early 90’s Scandinavian scene.
Finnish act Satanic Warmaster (as you can probably guess from the name) have their boots stomped firmly in the latter category. This, a vinyl re-release of their fourth album “Nachzehrer”, offers the listener 40 minutes of pure unapologetic hatred straight from the soul of lone member Satanic Tyrant Werewolf (also known as Nazgul). Introduced by an instrumental which sounds like it could have been back masked, the six tracks that follow are unrelentingly grim and aggressive, with a keyboard occasionally breaking through the claustrophobic terror.
Musically and lyrically (I imagine) it is everything you would expect, covering all of the areas that you would expect from such a band. A quick glance at the song titles alone, sees references to vampires, werewolves, raven’s blood, Satan and bestial darkness. The band have been embroiled in controversy about their lyrics, some accusing them of anti semitic content, but this release seems to concentrate purely on the dark forces of nature and devil worship.
The production is minimal and quite inconsistent throughout the record, quite often reduced to a drone punctuated by cymbals with the rest of the drums lost in the muddy noise, whereas other tracks sound much clearer. Recorded on analogue equipment, it certainly does give that grim, desolate sound which has served this brand of darkness so well over the years.
My main issue with the album is that while being a decent release with no major flaws, it does have some genuine genre defining classics from the likes of Darkthrone, Burzum, Mayhem, et al. to contend with, but taken on its own it is a decent album. Black metal fans can be a demanding group of folk, and their opinions are usually as black and white as the corpse paint that adorns the faces of many of its artists. This album should please some if not many of those fans.
The political views and past works of the leader of Satanic Warmaster have been questioned and argued with, but having not read up about it properly until after giving this album a few spins, I have taken this album purely on its musical merits, and will leave you to decide for yourself whether you will do the same.