2016 has been marked as a very important year in black metal music. It has now been 20 years; two whole decades since the release of SATYRICON’s seminal album Nemesis Divinia. The 1996 record saw the Norwegian legends rise to fame and begin to bring further exposure to the black metal scene. Now twenty years down the line, Nemesis Divinia has been re-released, remastered and is sounding sharper and heavier than before.
The Dawn Of A New Age is the album’s opener, which begins with a sludgy guitar and drum pattern, until vocalist Satyr’s growling of “This is armageddon” creeps in, then chaos descends and the first instance of SATYRICON’s black metal influence appears in full force. The Dawn Of A New Age is a sonic journey of a downward spiral into Hell. It is gritty, dark, sporadic and shows the pioneers of the genre making their mark. The rapid nature of the instruments merged with the macabre vocals was unlike anything heard within black metal at the time, so for SATYRICON to gather undivided attention within the first track was a sign of things to come.
Forhekset opens with a BLACK SABBATH-esque clean riff, saturated with effects, which quickly transcends into another sterling example of black metal, with the thunderous double bass amplifying the track. Whilst the lyrics are entirely in Norwegian, it doesn’t detract from the pure power and pseudo-religious undertones of the song. SATYRICON have a talent for switching up the pace of their songs so subtly, keeping the tracks as engaging as possible. The ending of Forhekset demonstrates some of the early tones of folk metal.
Mother North kicks off with a vengeance, with Satyr’s spine-tingling bellowing voice being the overbearing force in the song. The middle of the track takes a back seat, with a slow build up, interwoven with a key change and sluggish riffs, which then becomes swallowed up within the midst of SATYRICON’s iconic barrages of musical commotion.
Du Som Hater Gud sounds incredibly crisp, with each individual element of the song receiving much more clarity than before. But even with the sharp production, there is no debating that Du Som Hater Gud is black metal through and through. The satanic vocals maintain the sentiment that SATYRICON are confining you to the depths of Hell. The piano outro also plays to that effect.
Immortality Passion is a song which makes it evident which bands get their influence from SATYRICON. One band in particular is CHILDREN OF BODOM, especially in their Hatebreeder era. The atmospheric nature of the genre, particularly embedded within Immortality Passion is just one instance of SATYRICON’s worldwide influence on the genre. The craftsmanship involved in maintaining a sense of tranquility alongside the rampant riffs is unparalleled.
Next up is the title track, Nemesis Divinia, a compelling seven-minute epic. There are very few bands to have existed in extreme metal which provide a musical journey the way SATYRICON do within Nemesis Divinia. The chaotic nature of the song shows just how irregularly beautiful the black metal masterminds are.
The album closer is entitled Transcendental Requiem Of Slaves, an instrumental which is relieving of the hellish vocal tones and is allowing the musical madness to be solely concentrated on. Whilst slow in pace to start off with, it is deliberate and ensures that every emotion is captivated throughout. It’s artsy without any pretentiousness but summarises how wonderfully frightening Nemesis Divinia is.
It has been refreshing to revisit a classic, genre defining album, but even more so in its remastered form. Each instrument sounds more brutal and compelling and the vocals are undeniably venomous. Nemesis Divinia is completely timeless and has influenced a whole genre, and with the reissue, it will allow new fans of black metal to discover the reason they love the genre from one of the greatest bands to ever be a part of it.
Nemesis Divina (Remastered) is set for release on May 6th via Napalm Records.
SATYRICON will perform Nemesis Divina in its entirety at this year’s Bloodstock Festival. Tickets are available here.