Few Norwegian black metal bands have a legacy like Satyricon. Throughout eight studio albums, including the Hall of Fame-inducted Nemesis Divina, Satyricon has pushed their black metal template in bold new directions for over two decades, resulting in a vast—often challenging—body of work.
In celebration Decibel Books’ release of Black Metal: The Cult Never Dies Vol. 1, we’ve ranked the top five Satyricon’s best songs from the cold, buzzsaw sound of Dark Medieval Times to the black ‘n’ roll heard on Now, Diabolical.
5. “The Dawn of a New Age” (Nemesis Dvinia, 1996)
Satyricon sets the tone for Nemesis Divina right away with the opening line “This is Armageddon” before launching into a Satyr-revised version of the Book of Revelations with added cries of “Die!” The song gives a brief respite at the approximate halfway point for a slower, clean interlude before launching back into the blast beat-driven sonic assault on the listener, this time aided by a woman still reading the bastardized Revelations. “The Dawn of a New Age” is one of the standout songs on Nemesis.
4. “Tied in Bronze Chains” (Rebel Extravaganza, 1999)
Rebel Extravaganza was a descent from Satyricon’s previous work, including album art that showed Satyr with a shaved head. There was less medieval and folk influence, replaced by a dismal modern outlook with industrial influence. “Tied in Bronze Chains” is an example of how well that sound works when done well. Satyr’s harsh vocal performance is matched by relentless blast beats and guitar. It’s hard to deny the rock elements that would become more pronounced on Satyricon’s later work but they add a fresh element to “Tied in Bronze Chains.”
3. “K.I.N.G.” (Now, Diabolical, 2006)
Gone are the eight minute epics rife with blast beats and distorted walls of noise. On “K.I.N.G.,” Satyricon is rhythmic and catchy, embracing the hard rock element of their sound. No one plays at breakneck speed but instead settles for a driving groove. The music is still dark and aggressive, but it has a new coat of paint here.
2. “Taakeslottet” (Dark Medieval Times, 1994)
The final track on Satyricon’s debut album, “Taakeslottet” makes it clear what it means to have a buzzsaw guitar tone. Lead by distorted riffing and echoing drums, Satyr delivers many of his lines in a chilling whisper, in stark contrast to the brief but bloodcurdling shriek he begins the song with. The lyrics are delivered in Norwegian, leaving English-speaking listeners to simply listen to the delivery. Add in a folk-influenced interlude and you have the trappings of a great song.
1. “Mother North” (Nemesis Divina, 1996)
“Mother North” may be the essential Satyricon song. The crown jewel of Nemesis Divina, the track is equal parts cold and grandiose. An ode to Norway pre-Christianity, the lyrics are laced with malice and delivered in sinister fashion. A haunting melody weaves its way through the song. Satyricon also released a music video for the song full of nudity, fire and nature shots, a rarity for black metal in 1996.