Norwegian Satyricons’ debut is smack in the middle of classic Norwegian black metal, a genuine classic that remains one of the finest things to come out of that scene and period in time. After two demos, of which the first, All Evil, I once had on a bootleg CD and which was, as I recall, rather uninteresting, and the second, The Forest Is My Throne, was very good and will be dealt with later, Satyricon released their debut on head honcho Satyrs’ own label, Moonfog.
Whereas a lot of their contemporaries dealt with satanic themes, on Dark Medieval Times Satyricon seem to predominantly deal with dark nature romanticism infused with a strong yearning for mythological “better” dark ages of the past. Of course, with no lyrics in the booklet, it’s hard to exactly say what Satyr is croaking. The music, which alternates between furious rawness and middle-paced moments of majestic atmospheres, reflects these themes marvellously. Acoustic guitars and subtle keyboards complement the thin, tinny and sharp electric guitars, whilst hammerman Frosts’ powerful pounding has often a suitably echoing and cavernous sound. Satyrs vocals are a vicious croaking, and instead of blasting away with all they’ve got, the band keep the pace at a steady gallop a lot of the time, Frost getting to show he is a capable man behind the drumset. Clichéd atmospheric whispering and samples of the wind blowing add additional focus to the later rather overused wintry thematics… but Satyricon make it work, not only because they did it before most, but also because their vision is so strong and the execution excellent.
Containing several lengthy tracks, two of which approach the nine minute mark, Dark Medieval Times is in many ways a majestic and epic album. It weaves visions of dark spruce forests, blowing wintry storm winds, barren mountains and a glorious age of barbarism. I know most regard Satyricons’ second album, The Shadowthrone, as their greatest moment, but to me, nothing Satyricon ever did comes close to the excellence of Dark Medieval Times, which is definitely in my Top-10 black metal albums of all time.