Dark Medieval Times
Review by Luka on December 4, 2001.
Winds and evil storms shower the cold mountaintops of Norway, and from deep within a forest echoes a grim voice of a fiend, "SKOGEN!". Here it is: the quintessence of black metal. Hearing Satyr’s cold, distant voice and the raw guitars of an album recorded in winter, at a site of ancient ruins in Norway is simply as black metal as you can get: the majestic debut from a band that would soon rise to become one of the leading forces of metal in this country.
The music predominantly conjures feelings of old, primeval darkness. 'Walk the Path of Sorrow' will rip you out of the reverie created by the intro with a fast and furious guitar driven, double-bass powered wall of sound, only to surrender to the sorrowful interlude of the acoustic. As the songs evolve, the mood and the feelings of evil progressively transcend into a more melodic stream of sound, where Satyr even begins to employ some actual medieval instruments like the flute and the classic acoustic guitar, it all adds to the uniqueness of the band and the old-time atmosphere created by the album.
The guitar production on the album is unbelievable! The resonance the strings create is cold and dark, sounding sharp enough to cut your neck but still distorted enough for certain notes and melodies to be buried underneath so you have to dig to uncover them. The clear, simple tunes played by the flute, however, take away from this cold and grim feeling. The flute sounds happy and joyful compared to the dreadful noise of the guitar and often does not meld into the song, but rather sticks out and unnaturally juts out. The guitar then, playing the harmony of the flute, ultimately creates a bad sounding riff.
"Dark Medieval Times" is truly an interesting work of art and ingenuity in the metal world. ‘Frost’ professionally takes care of the percussion but Satyricon is essentially Satyr’s solo undertaking, as he carries out all the instrumental, songwriting, and production tasks. On this album he has achieved in creating a whole new realm. He has taken us across the cold sea to the shores of the old Viking homelands and back to a time long ago.
Bottom Line: A cold and grim album with a true medieval feel. Creates an atmosphere of timelessness but has some weaknesses.
Categorical Rating Breakdown
Rating: 7.4 out of 10