Before I start my review with the latest release from Pennsylvanian band Sathanas, I have a confession to make. Sathanas have been plying their trade of blackened thrash metal since 1988 and will be releasing their tenth album, Necrohymns, on the 10th of July through our good friends at Transcending Obscurity. My confession is that this will be the first time that I will have heard the band and this is, unfortunately, one of those occasions where a band have spilled their guts for their cause and have largely gone unnoticed. It speaks volumes that against such adversity, the band continues to release material that goes under the radar from the scene but with Necrohymns, that will surely change for this trio. So with a fresh look at the band, let’s see what Sathanas can do for me and whether I would recommend it to you.
Everything about this album is old-school, the production, the cover art created by Adi Christianize and an opening riff from Paul that Watain would be proud of along with the militaristic drumming from Jim. We are greeted with mid-paced thrash metal riffs, slow to mid-paced drums with a huge double bass and black metal screams. This band has had a stable line up since 2005 and two of the three members have been together since 1992, so I think it’s fair to say that they are tight as you could want. There is a lot of late 80s and early 90s in their sound and production which suits Sathanas. Influences include the likes of Venom and Bathory, which should give you a fair indication of how this band sounds.
As was with the era of the late 80s early 90s, the bass was virtually unheard of. During the opening of “Of Wrath and Hellfire”, there is a cool intro from bassist Bill letting us all know that he is a proficient musician alongside his comrades. It’s much more of the same, but the best part of the song for me was the chorus where Jim screams “Brings you to Evil”, urging you to form an orderly line and join the queue. “Throne of Satan” throws up some excellent double bass work and some of the fastest riffs on the album, with Jim from early Acheron fame, keeping things at a steady pace and creating a stomping fierce attitude. The solos from Paul are particularly inspiring and the best of the album in this song and I keep hearing some Samael and early Watain in there, too.
“Harbinger of Death” starts off with early Metallica style riffs, it would be funny to have Lars Ulrich behind the kit as soon as the double bass kicks in from Jim. For me, the best riff on the album comes in at 2.40 and this is once again backed by double bass and an intricate bass line from Bill, making you headbang time and time again. This is the highlight of the album for me, as I feel that the way the song is structured, everything falls better into place here. “Raise the Flag of Hell” changes the tempo more than any other song on the album and I feel that this works. At one stage, the fastest the drums have been on the album are backed by old-school thrash solos bringing freshness to the album.
“Upon the Wings of Desecration” brings consistent double bass once again, and for those that read my reviews, if you have good double bass on the album then you will no doubt have plus marks from me, and the drums here give this song plus marks. I think it’s fair to say that this is the angriest song on Necrohymns and it’s a style that suits Sathanas. “Sacramentum” starts off with a more black metal riff before settling back down into the mid-paced thrash vein reminiscent of the older times when extreme metal was at its youth. For us older fans, this is exactly what you want from an album like this, controversial (remember those days) and having good horn raising anthems.
The final song on the album, “Witchcult”, contains more death metal riffs in places and is again mid-paced. Sathanas needed to end this album with a punch for the listener to want to repeat the album. Well, I would say that this is almost the best song in the album, with the songs being as tight as a band that are thirty years active should be. This is classic extreme metal from the time when it all began and a lesson to all.
Their lyrics should seem pretty obvious with messages about Satanism, the occult and witchcraft, showing Sathanas are a band not be taken lightly. Some bands use Satanism in their lyrics as a gimmick, not so with Sathanas. There is nothing groundbreakingly original about their songs, but I have thrown originality out of the window, as I don’t know how bands can be original any more. All I want to hear are tunes that make me mosh, move and inspire me and Sathanas certainly do that. Now to check out their back catalogue and spread the word.
Necrohymns is out 10th July