Thursday, March 01, 2012

Satyros: Riven (2011)

Too Extreme?

The German band Satyros contacted me to point me to their sophomore full-length, Riven, available as a free download on their Bandcamp page.

They introduced themselves to me as a blackened melodic death metal band. As I was first listening to it, I was really struggling to find anything to compare it to. It's far more melodic than any blackened death metal has a right to be. I kept struggling, until about track 9, and then I realized why I was so confused.

It's not extreme metal at all.

Strip away the extreme-looking logo, the corpse paint, and the black metal-style rasped vocals, and what you're left with is melodic progressive metal with just a couple of blast beats on the whole album. Even the album art and song titles (like "Purify" and "Moments of Mine") definitely do not say "extreme." That's not necessarily a bad thing. I haven't listened to their debut (also available free on their Bandcamp), but with a frosty album cover and song titles (like "Loyal to the Crown of Frost" and "Riders at the Gates of Dawn") it's quite possible these guys started out as an extreme metal band, and don't even realize they stopped.

After I cleared my mind of extreme expectations, the album is a lot less confusing. What you get is some nice, melodic progressive metal, the way it sounds when actual metalheads are playing it instead of Youtube guitar nerds. Add in some synths, a couple samples, and change out the expected clean vocal sound for a rasp, and that's the formula for Riven. Some of the melodies are quite memorable, too, and the songs are of the coherent variety of progressive, not guitar wankery.

The Verdict: As long as you have your expectations in check, you might like Riven. Melodic progressive metal isn't really my genre of choice, at least for the moment, so I'm probably underselling it. I give it 3 out of 5 stars. You may want to give it a listen for yourself.

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