There is a castle in the distance. The road that takes you there is fraught with terrors. Proceed carefully and take in as much atmosphere as you can. This is the story of Satyricon’s debut album, Dark Medieval Times, a later entrant into the Norwegian scene’s early days, although the relatively new duo of Sigurd “Satyr” Wongraven and drummer Kjetil-Vidar “Frost” Haraldstad (the latter of whom had officially joined the band for The Forest Is My Throne a year before) had already begun to make waves with their demo efforts.
Having been in talks with various labels like Osmose Productions and Candlelight Records, it was Satyr’s idea to self-release Dark Medieval Times on his own label, the fledgling Moonfog mailorder. Pairing up with avant-garde and progressive rock label Tatra Productions, Moonfog Productions was publicly born with this first CD release, very suddenly skyrocketing Satyricon into fame within the black metal community.
Taking the creative helm, Satyricon is Satyr’s creative force first and foremost, with Frost contributing visually and acting as the project’s strong, percussive backbone. A child of the end of the progressive rock era, Satyr took an atypical approach that set Dark Medieval Times apart from the outwardly stylistically conservative (but not really) black metal scene that surrounded his band. Featuring riffs in atypical time signatures, lengthy classical-and-folk-inspired passages (a first for a burgeoning scene) and a heavier, more textured buzz when compared to other albums of its time, it was through Dark Medieval Times that black metal began to discover a more progressive version of itself.
A primarily atmospheric record, featuring raw guitar tone and lengthy progressions that feed into each other, it’s through Satyricon’s full-length debut that they discovered their first bouts of musical personality: a Kittelsen-esque adventure through the darkness of the medieval era and beyond—something that would follow them to the turn of the millennium, after which came an about-face in style with Rebel Extravaganza’s more urban-inspired sound in 1999.
As Satyr and Frost reflect on their debut album in this new retrospective interview, we recommend curling up in your favorite chair, putting on your copy of the new reissue (or an original if you have the excess dough), and really losing yourself in the atmospheres Satyr and Frost created all those years ago, being sure to marvel at just how relevant they still are almost 30 years later. Enter the castle beyond.
Need more Satyricon? To read the entire seven-page story, featuring interviews with all members who performed on Dark Medieval Times, purchase the print issue from our store, or digitally via our app for iPhone/iPad or Android.