Monday, October 12, 2009

Satanic Warmaster - Carelian Satanist Madness (2005)

Released in mid-2005, Carelian Satanist Madness is the third and (so far) final full-length from Satanic Warmaster. For the uninitiated, this is raw Finnish Black Metal with influences from the old Norwegian style, in the same vein as Clandestine Blaze and Sargeist, featuring the former vocalist of Horna and Pest. The quality of the record drops off from its predecessor, Opferblut, with some inconsistencies in the songwriting. Despite this, there are still some decent tracks.

The material on this L.P. sort of skips that which was found on ...Of the Night and returns to the more direct and concise approach of the last album. Songs like "The Vampiric Tyrant", "Eaten by Rats" and "666" are quite straightforward and hearken back to the Black Metal of the mid-'90s, consisting of melancholic and sometimes epic tremolo melodies. The songwriting is quite memorable, with the latter track bringing forth an unsettling dreariness. "My Kingdom of Darkness" does not stray too far from this formula, including a haunting tremolo riff that hovers in the distance. "True Blackness" is not a bad song, but somewhat inconsistent with the lifted "Deathcrush" bits standing out from the more melodic melodies; not that the arrangement is awkward, just that the Mayhem worship is quite overt and distracting. "My Dreams of 8" slows things down quite a bit, featuring the sort of open-arpeggio riffs that are also found on the ill-fated title track. It reminds me of I Shalt Become, just not as sorrowful. As for the title being a reference to Hitler, I'd say just be open about it and hail the man and not care what anyone thinks or says about it. Either way, these sort of riffs were handled much better by Varg Vikernes, a dozen years earlier. The outro is not too bad, perhaps a bit long, but works well enough.

The production of Opferblut was preferable to what is found on Carelian Satanist Madness, for my personal taste. Here, the drums are a bit higher in the mix than need be, and the double bass creates a rumbling distortion that is rather unwanted. As such, the coldness of the guitar tone is lessened. As well, the vocals are a little clearer and lack the obscure feeling that was possessed on the last album. Regarding the more negative aspects of the songwriting, it primarily boils down to the lengthy title track. It is seemingly hijacked by a very out-of-place section that possesses an uncharacteristically upbeat vibe. It is quite reminiscent of Absurd's Thuringian Pagan Madness and just does not fit in with the rest of the riffs. This is compounded by the fact that the track is so long and the listener is repeatedly subjected to this. It manages to neutralize the sombre opening riffs and its placement so early in the album means that the rest of the tracks are forced to try cleansing this bad taste from the listener's pallet, rather than purely standing on their own.

All in all, Carelian Satanist Madness is a decent album, especially for the time period during which it was released. It fails to match up to the likes of Envaatnags Eflos Solf Esgantaavne, Disciple of the Heinous Path, or even Rattenkönig, yet it is not bad at all. Had the production been a bit more in line with the somewhat colder and harsher sound of Opferblut, as well as scrapping the title track for ..."Of the Night", this L.P. would have created a better impression. Nonetheless, Satanic Warmaster does its own part in maintaining the traditions set forth in the previous era, something well-needed with the continued rise of plastic, sterile and commercial Black Metal. Fans of previous works will likely find something here to appreciate.