Frost of Satyricon: Darkness and Light

Three years in the making, borne of the depths of the mind and the night, Deep Calleth Upon Deep promises to be a milestone release for Satyricon.

Few bands have been as formative and yet, as challenging to their genre as Norway’s Satyricon have been for black metal. Formed in 1991 in a vibrant age of Norwegian extreme metal, Satyricon have consistently pushed the boundaries of black metal, producing some of its most iconic – and daring – albums. This September, Satyricon are set unleash their ninth studio album, Deep Calleth Upon Deep. In the weeks leading up to its release, Metal As Fuck encountered drummer Frost, to explore the dimensions of Deep Calleth Upon Deep and how this album came into being…

Deep Calleth Upon Deep has been heralded as ‘a new age’ for Satyricon, what is this new direction? “I feel that we can’t describe the new direction in technical terms, to describe the difference from this album to every other album in strictly technical and musical terms, I think it’s perhaps more…more…natural, more right to describe that as an album that has a different kind of …character, different kind of vibe. I sense that the experience of this album is something very different from anything we have done before. I remember having talked about the different Satyricon albums as ‘different chapters in the book’ but I in many ways feel the new Satyricon album is more like a different book, rather than just another chapter. So it’s a very profound change in feeling and in spirit, more than anything else, which again, will come through in our music, but realistically, it’s a change of spiritual level, most of all.”

A whole new book of Satyricon…I wonder; how would one describe this ‘new book’? “I think it is much more ‘open and creative Satyricon’ than ever before and …the energy changes a lot from song to song, we give lots of life to the songs in a [reflects a moment]…different way than we did before, there is a deeper darkness in darker themes, where there is, ah, a light attached to what is lighter and I sense that all the different seasons of the year are richly represented in our music in a way, and ah, its very, very expressive…almost like you could liken it to paintings from the Impressionist era, so its like a style of sound that is painting pictures, and what we do now it’s first and foremost very, very expressive and deep.”

Impressionist paintings are laden with brightness but with a sense of latent darkness. Do you think that this coexistence of light and dark is part of this new energy? “Yes I do, and that is spot on. I guess that it comes from gaining a lot of experience throughout the meaning of existence, it comes from our constant hunger and demand for change, it comes from natural dynamics of the band and it comes from where we are at now … because experience and learning has made us ...[pauses]… also understand and appreciate the broad spectrum of qualities between the deepest darkness and the most vivid light, and we wanted to connect, and the deeper you can go in the severity of that darkness the more life and light you can really bring to your songs and the more powerful they will be. That is how we wanted it.”

Has there been a different way in which you have approached this album than in the past, to access this connection? “Yeah the way it has developed is different from before, we have been jamming lot, and we have been seeking inspiring places to work, and we have tried to make it possible for us to open up creatively, to see if we can have more ‘counsel’ hours and we go to a place where we can rehearse day or night, you know, regardless of any limitations or external disturbances of any kind and … we work a lot at night, we are in our most creative mood and we go on for a longest period that we are able to … we have tried to work more freely … not always with very set plans for what we are going to do, sometimes just allow for things to happen by themselves and to let the music guide us and to communicate musically only, not to talk much or analyse or plan much, let the music happen, record a lot and [sighs]…and eventually make use of what we feel has a place in Satyricon.”

Is this approach an expression of intrinsic searching? “Yes, yes you are quite right about that, we don’t really make choices or you know, take deliberate steps to achieve one or the other, its always been for us, Satyricon is an art that is all about art, and we want to create that larger than life experience with our music and we don’t want it to be bound to something. For this album, it all comes really deep from within, from the darkest corners of the consciousness and darkness of subconsciousness and really its all about expressing something that expands the boundaries of mundane life and everyday happenings and those trivialities, and something that is deeper and more severe.”

Satyricon is a band that has pushed the boundaries of black metal. How do you think this album challenges the parameters of the genre? “I think that its shows … it lights up a different path, I guess. On the one hand, I feel that Deep Calleth Upon Deep is first and foremost a good an inspired band playing good and inspired songs, and that’s an almost banal way of putting it. But when you look away from the complexities of it, that’s what it’s all about. But then on the other hand, I believe that we have made an album that is so powerful, so convincing, so expressive, and loaded with wide energies and spirit and so alive that it really can’t be neglected, it’s a game-changer album. Filling it with all of that energy and that richness is really what makes it stand out and give it all that character that has turned it into that powerful beast of an album that it has become. Basically now, we have really managed to express a lot in the album, so I guess for this kind of music …it brings something fresh to its own discipline, it shows a very different and powerful way of doing it, very powerful take on it so to speak.”

Indeed it does. Deep Calleth Upon Deep has a boldly diverse emotional palette…“…Some songs feel very intense and powerful, perhaps even dangerous, other songs feel that they have more subtleties, perhaps something more light about them, with very deep darkness underneath. What I really like the most about this album is … the dynamic of it, the variations between the songs and how they sit so well together, as a compilation of songs, yet still so entirely unique [So, is there a metanarrative?] "No. We wanted to be a very deep and expressive album, we didn’t enforce any concepts or set rules or limitations or any such things.”

The lack of rules and the wider emotional range may be confronting to some fans of the black metal…“Definitely. Whenever something so expressive is shown to the world there are some controversies, and there will be highly divided opinions. At least it seems to really move people in a way, which in itself is good. Black metal has this nature, many people are not happy to be challenged by albums, when they hear something unexpected or very unconventional. But it is the very foundation of the genre. We of course to a degree have learned … there are a lot of conventions and standards in metal, and definitely in black metal and that is something that we are confronting all the time, as we don’t adhere to the conventions, we definitely move forward with our music. We think of black metal as something that should be in constant motion, it has huge potential for innovation and we are definitely going to follow that path.”

Deep Calleth Upon Deep is out 22 September via Napalm Records.