Friday, 18 July 2014

Satan's Satyrs - Die Screaming! (Album Review)

Album Type: Full Length
Label: Bad Omen Records
Date Released: 20/4/2014

The Band:

Clayton Burgess | Bass, Vocals
Jarrett Nettnin | Guitar
Stephen Fairfield |  Drums

“Die Screaming!” Track Listing:

1. Thumper's Theme 1:39
2. Instruments of Hellfire 5:40
3. Curse of the Corpse 5:18
4. Black Souls 3:39
5. Show Me Your Skull 4:44
6. One by One (They Die) 5:40
7. Lucifer Lives! 6:38
8. Die Screaming 12:12


Something sinister is looming in the mist - a ghastly three-headed apparition, equal parts riffage & rancour and fuelled by a steady diet of garage rock 7-inches played at 33RPM and horror movies watched at 5AM, the primeval force of Satan’s Satyrs is returned to the earth to lay waste to everything in its path.

Rising from the primordial ooze of Herndon, Virginia Satan’s Satyrs hit the metal underground like a tidal wave of sulphur with their debut proper, 2012’s ‘Wild Beyond Belief’. This almighty assault, almost entirely the work of chief Satyr Clayton Burgess, was a harrowing blast of fuzz-drenched aggro - a clash of Venom-esque metalpunk squalor and in-the-red garage-rock dementia.

With Jarrett Nettnin soon joining the fray on guitar and Stephen Fairfield on drums, the power-trio were soon invited by Electric Wizard to 2013’s Roadburn Festival, which they graced with two scorching sets, one being entirely comprised of cuts by their heinous heroes Blue Cheer. Yet the three-piece, despite being barely into their twenties, weren’t about to rest on their laurels. What’s more, the result of their onward march into grisly pastures new is the more mature yet no less malicious new opus, ‘Die Screaming’ which sees it’s European release via Bad Omen Records on April 20th.

Whenever I hear of a heavy band from my home state of Virginia getting a lot of hype, there are a few questions that initially run through my mind.  Is this a band featuring individuals from the glory days of the Richmond hardcore scene, or leftovers from the Northern Virginia/Washington DC Dischord heyday, or is it another standout band from the current Richmond metal scene?  With Satan’s Satyrs, it’s none of the above.  Sure, these three young men come from the ultra rich land of Fairfax County, not far from the historic Potomac River, (you know, George Washington, the coin toss, that whole deal), but like all things monied and beautiful, there has to be a dark underbelly festering beneath the whitewash.  In the case of Satan’s Satyrs, a band whose trashy, psychedelic proto-metal conjures images from your worst mondo film nightmare, suburban Virginia is definitely getting a good kick in the teeth by those 1970’s juvenile delinquent types from the movie, “Over the Edge,” (only this time the kids are amped up on hard drugs, bloodlust, biker violence, and Satanism – a far cry from your run-of-the-mill small town angst).  Like Pentagram, the hugely influential doomsters who also originated from a small Virginia town, Satan’s Satyrs seem to have risen from those same depths of hell to wreak havoc, slay audiences, and lay stages to waste.  And after playing Hellfest and Roadburn last year, where for Roadburn they were personally selected by Electric Wizard’s Jus Oborn to play his “Electric Acid Orgy,” all of those stage-levelling reports are certainly not exaggerated.  

The band’s current offering, “Die Screaming!” is a slightly more polished affair than their 2012 LP, “Wild Beyond Belief,” (but only slightly).  Singer Clayton Burton has traded in his Cronos/Blag Dahlia rasp for a more straight-up nasally, garage snarl.  Somehow the snotty childishness of the latter makes him sound more evil.  It’s like those cringe-worthy moments in horror films where you see a little kid as a killer or a demon.  Being that “Die Screaming!” will more than likely appeal to the horror punk fans of Midnight, “Earth A.D.”-era Misfits or the Dwarves, those psychotic vocals are a perfect fit.  The music itself is absolutely on fire. Skronky garage tones, twisted riffery, beefy bass lines, frantic cymbal bashing, and a borderline obnoxious usage of wah-wah, (Blue Cheer’s Leigh Stephens, or the late Ron Asheton would be extremely proud.)  Sometimes you’ll think you’re listening to Venom at their most furious.  Other times you’ll be imagining Electric Wizard’s “Black Masses” on 45 rather than 33.  You’ll also be reminded of Black Flag’s sludgier, misanthropic moments.  Hell, you may even recall the catchy abrasiveness of Nirvana’s “Bleach.”  The brilliant “One by One, (They Die)” begins with the line, “They say beware of hell, but we don’t care,” then takes the listener down a teenage death trip into doom and darkness.  You can easily envision a group of young guys hanging out in a graveyard at night, drinking and drugging, and reciting lines from a skin-bound book they found in the basement of their local bookseller.  It’s sure to become a fan favorite with its shout-along chorus of, “One by one by one, they die!”

To put it simply, Satan’s Satyrs just does it right.  It’d be easy to dismiss them as another doom/punk band who’s obsessed with trashy horror films and vest-donning biker thugs, but if you were to judge that book by its cover you would definitely be missing out on one of the most unique and exciting releases of 2014.  Surely the band may end up just as polarizing as they are uniting, but it is hard to imagine that anyone who enjoys evil, fun music taking issue with these guys. Metal heads, garage rockers, punk rockers, even all those Samhain-obsessed cats I knew in high school with their carefully-sculpted devilocks are sure to dig it. There’s a little something going on in “Die Screaming!” that should appeal to the tastes of many, but the doom crowd may be the most likely to embrace the band.  Satan’s Satyrs are the perfect choice for those who get a little tired of the sloth paced riffing of most contemporary doom, or for the Uncle Acid fans who wish they were a little more Chocolate Watchband than Pentagram.  

Oh, and did I mention that Clay Burgess is now the bassist for Electric Wizard?  That alone would probably be the greatest selling point to many.  However, with a band who’s capable of pushing the pleasure buttons of such a wide array of listeners, their affiliation to the Wizard is probably irrelevant.  If you have a penchant for sleaze, horror, doom, garage psych, or punk/metal crossover, Satan’s Satyrs will satisfy all of your dark urges beyond any doubt.

Words: Erik Sugg

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