This is where Satyricon started going wrong in my opinion, or at least taking a path that diverged from my tastes. Newer Satyricon with their rocking black metal does not pique my interest in the least, and this is the album where they totally forsook all of the nature mysticism and shall we say traditional black metal imagery. Well, honestly, Rebel Extravaganza has certainly stood the test of time better than some “experimental” albums by established black metal acts that came out during this time – however, at the time of release I didn’t think this was better than average, and my opinion hasn’t changed a lot in the years since then.
Where old Satyricon was all about the dark beauty of nature and such, Rebel Extravaganza is about filth, ugliness and a sort of urban decay. It feels like living in filth, eating muck with decayed teeth and hearing the endless grinding of polluting machinery destroy everything beautiful and pure. It’s not industrial by any means, but there is a strong sense of industrialized dehumanization permeating the album, emphasized by Frosts’ razor-sharp drumwork and the distorted spoken-growled vocals of Satyr. Gone is every hint of epic majesty, gone are the acoustic guitars and synths. This is filth grinding ugliness and decay.
The atmosphere works, though it feels thoroughly un-Satyricon to me. I also like the visual side, which pretty much fits into how I described the sound above. Where Rebel Extravaganza fails to grip me is the songs. They’re not just particularly interesting. I can certainly dig the bands’ attempt to reinvent themselves, and think that in large parts they did a pretty good job, but when one of the parts where they missed the spot are the songs, getting most other stuff nailed just isn’t enough.
Sadly, things went even more downhill from here, at least as far as I am concerned.