The Forest Is My Throne(Demo-1993, Moonfog - 1996-split with Enslaved)
Four songs, of which one is the acoustic beauty from their first LP, and the last bonus track: a good retro-thrash song a la Celtic Frost. The other two are demo quality tracks that are slightly more raw and brutal than the ones on Dark Medieval Times, but otherwise similar in approach. Go for the better debut first before you try this one.
Dark Medieval Times(Moonfog - 1994)
Indeed a dark release that often reminded me of Burzum. The songs shift frequently from medieval/acoustic passages to an atmospheric, buzzing black metal sound. Only a few blast beats are used, as well as some tasteful atmospheric keyboards, lots of acoustics (guitar and flute) and buzzing guitars. But I must say that this album disappointed me. Although they have a stylized and original sound and a talent for great textures and dark vibes, they lack bridges between the many shifting strains of the songs. Since it usually doesn't build up to anything and shifts about aimlessly, I would call this an atmospheric album. However, the many sudden changes and the extreme grim sound disallow even that approach. The sound is also very unpolished but that only fits right in and enhances the mood. Track 4 is a great, cold and meditative acoustic song that makes me wish they'd put out a whole album of these (Ulver did something similar). Tracks 5 (Into the Mighty Forest) and maybe 2 are great but otherwise, this isn't for me. A few lessons in structure and development would have given this album the missing piece to make it into the superb and classic release most people think it is. Pick this one up at your own risk.
The Shadowthrone(Moonfog - 1994)
Break out the horns and mead and deposit your helmets and shields at the entrance; it's time to get festive with the maidens and spoils of war. Other than a few grim punctuations of barbarbic ferocity, this album features magnificent medieval melodies and gung-ho folk atmospheres anchored firmly in black metal. Not all the grim darkness of the debut is gone however, the songs here frequently burst into battle and fiery forays (especially in the latter half of the album). Memorable riffs, tasteful keyboards, varied drumming and zesty sandpaper croaking vocals by Satyr all contribute to the album. In summary, while I usually prefer a darker style, this 'viking' metal is so unique and well done, it's irresistible. A very enjoyable and varied album without the compositional difficulties of the previous release.
Nemesis Divina(Moonfog - 1996)
With an eruption of jagged riffing and a clashing of swords, Satyricon brandish their latest musical direction and Immortal-esque dabbling. As opposed to some reviews however, the Immortal elements are too far in between to call this an Immortal clone. The unique Satyricon elements are obviously in control, namely: some medieval pounding melodies, acoustic airs, folkish touches and most importantly, the uniquely sounding Satyricon grim textures and arrangements. This is definitely a much fiercer release however and, unfortunately, a less varied and memorable collection of tracks. It does grow on you after a few listens though, and after all, it does contain the epic Mother North and the first blazing track. On the technical side, the production could have done better, the drumming has now gotten quite impressive, the guitars do the job wonderfully, and Satyr's vocals seem to have gotten deeper. A good purchase that grows on you - albeit they seem to have more talent and potential than this.
Megiddo MCD(label - 1983)
It's bad enough that I can't even conceive of a black metal song that would sound good industrially remixed, but the first track is a remix of Dawn of a New Age that isn't even any good. It sounds like someone idly fiddling with the studio controls in his spare time and it is often mixed with a totally incompatible electronic beat. The second of the four tracks on this EP is a useless re-recording of a track off Dark Medieval Times that seems to have lost its atmosphere. Then comes a live recording of Forhekset (very muddy sound and a mediocre song), and a cover of Motorhead's Orgasmatron (a plodding song with great vocals, dull guitars, and ... sequencers?). Not even for fans.
Intermezzo II(Nuclear Blast - 1999)
Another four track release but more interesting this time. The first is a new song boasting a more progressive approach to composition. It starts out well but falls apart pretty soon, plodding along and losing its structure. Satyr shouldn't hide his vocals under distortion either. Applause for the experimentation and progression but lets hope this isn't a sample of things to come. Then comes a blazing exercise in speed with machine gun effects in the background. This goes under the title of Inri - a Sarcophago cover with nothing much to offer other than terrorizing speed. The third track is a fuller re-recording and editing of Nemesis Divina - a good track but nothing really new. And then we have the last warped ambient track that is quite effective and interesting if you like that sort of thing.
Rebel Extravaganza(Nuclear Blast - 1999)
Well I've read reviews that called this the best groundbreaking black metal release in years and then I saw reviews that pegged it the biggest insult to black metal in decades. I assumed it would be a progressive masterpiece that only black metal purists would hate. How wrong I was. I am beginning to think that long hair has a correlation with musical talent because all of a sudden, Satyr can't build a song structure worth a goat's scrotum. Progressive it is; some interesting experimentation it has; enjoyable it is definitely not. The arrangements break apart very often and ruin any hope of a buildup, most of the riffs are unmemorable and there are a few really dull movements. Some flashes of brilliant arrangements and progressive experimentation show themselves but these are quickly squashed to oblivion by the musical equivalence of a confession booth in a whorehouse. Satyr alternates between distorted vocals that only sometimes work out, to his usual raspy croaks, although less invigorating this time. The music is a progressive and very varied blizzard of harsh black metal that should be impressive as hell, but isn't. Kudos are deserved for progressing and keeping a unique harsh sound without using keyboards, and to Frost for his flawless and stupendous drumming, but these don't even come close to saving this failure of a release.