Review by Dwightfryed for Satyricon - The Shadowthrone (1994) Review by Dwightfryed for Satyricon - The Shadowthrone (1994)

Dwightfryed Dwightfryed / January 30, 2019 / 0

1994's “The Shadowthrone” may well have been my personal gateway drug into black metal. True to form, it’s a slightly tighter carbon copy of the debut in terms of content.  Satyr still the doom-summoner, his Norwegian/English vocals bringing forth evil from the dark woods, cackles snapping and rising over primal Norwegian metal.  Tempos shift constantly, triumphant keyboard fanfares rise like spirits and then dissipate, Frost’s bass drums clunk with cantankerous reverb, and those gorgeous bursts of tremolo-picked dissonance take off abundantly without warning.  

Now-iconic material like “The King of the Shadowthrone” is ornamental work – compelling metalsmith fare.  The main riff sporting a sort of pagan pomposity- grand and bordering on regal, but this trio rarely rests on their laurels long enough to ram it down main street, tempos constantly morphing into hooky midpaced pilgrimages, breathtaking acoustic interludes and blasts of hyperspeed.  There’s no restlessness in the song structures, despite the constant changes – just the frosty atmosphere of foreboding epics crafted by true artisans taking classic metal to the next level. The violent double-bass, swelling mystics, and melodic gits of “Woods to Eternity” drink from the same evil-informed well of high-minded traditional metal, Satyr hissing, “This must be the desolate land…” as the drums shift into a fit of rattling speed.   

It's not the most aggressive, hate-gargling black metal ever created, but I like the musicality of the record. The aforementioned acoustic and clean segues and other assorted pace-changing diversions give the album an air of evil grandiloquence and make it an easy transition record for fans of classic heavy metal into the realm of the grim.  Early Satyricon doesn’t get the respect it deserves, despite the smorgasbord of Christ-hating goodies on display. The band would only get  better with time, but don’t overlook the delicate intricacies buried under this forgotten tombstone. I tend to think of the early records as black metal’s answer to early Genesis. Regardless, this one still ticks all the boxes for me.  


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