Monday, November 21, 2011

Satyricon - Intermezzo II EP (1998)

I'll be the first to admit: I have no idea what Satyr is doing on the cover of this Rebel Extravaganza teaser EP. Is he practicing for the role of a morlock in some H.G. Wells film adaptation? Is he getting into position for a subterranean football match? Was he caught unprepared after a smack binge? Or is he doing an edgier, tattooed Max Schreck impersonation? At any rate, no amount of leering from the shadows is bound to save Intermezzo II, which is more or less an experimental selection of tracks meant to whet the appetite for the stylistic turn that would be their fourth full-length. There are a few nifty ideas strewn about the 20 minutes of this release, but it's not the sort of thing that would hold any interest outside their fanbase, and not so much even to their diehard devotees.

The first track here is "A Moment of Clarity", which also appeared in the eight position on the ensuing full-length. It's not a bad track, though Rebel Extravaganza is my least favorite of their albums overall. Slow to mid-paced riffing with a very organic drum tone; they mesh a bit of the Norse dissonance in with rock-fueled guitars that foreshadow their later, full on black 'n' roll era circa Volcano. The song has some evil, arching rhythms to it, but overall I've never been all that into it, though the random, sparse synth strikes are a curiosity. Following that, they burst into a blasted rendition of "INRI", by Brazilian cult legends Sarcófago, which they even brag to be at 251 BPM. Not sure that the speed of the song makes it any more effective and evil, but certainly it's an acceptable translation for the hyperblast black metal advocate. A different mix of the title track to Nemesis Divina is incorporated, but frankly it's unnecessary and unimpressive...

That leads me to the final cut, and the most interesting found on Intermezzo II: "Blessed from Below" which was recorded with Snorre W. Ruch of Thorns. Basically it's a subversive electro industrial piece dowsed in Satyr's vocal filth and a few guitars. The early, ominous bass grooves are naturally quite enticing and memorable, but after about 3 minutes it transforms into this subtle, ambient landscape which is far more subtle. It's good enough, though, that I wish the entire EP involved such collaborations, because "A Moment of Clarity" and the "Nemesis Divina ("Clean Vision Mix") are utterly useless, both better experienced in their respective full length environments. So, a snazzy electro obscurity with a guy who needs no introduction to that sphere of influence, and a half-decent cover song. Not really anything to covet here, and those seeking its contents might be better served by the 2006 Nuclear Blast re-issue of Rebel Extravaganza, which includes the whole shebang.

Verdict: Fail [4/10]

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