Satan – Life Sentence


We must come clean and say that heavy metallers Satan escaped our attention when they came around the first time in the early eighties. They were a less noticeable entrant at the time when the explosion of New Wave Of British Heavy Metal erupted in the UK, a period which lit no fire or thrill personally it has to be said so understandable our miss, and it is only over the years since that their position and importance to fans of the era has been recognised. Now they return with new album Life Sentence and such its impressive and rich invitation a retrospective investigation of the band might well be in order if still not finding a hunger to embrace the movement they frequented back then. The album of all new material is certainly not breaking free anything not heard before or re-inventing aspects of heavy metal but boy is it fun and enjoyable.

As said the Newcastle quintet made their mark at the beginning of the eighties after forming in 1979. Debut album Court In The Act in 1983 made an impact, if reserved compared to the heavyweights at the time, which helped inspire the considered thought over the years since that the band was influential for following bands with their a form of proto-thrash metal. Still relatively obscure though the band went through many line-up changes and band names, Satan becoming Blind Fury and then Pariah for subsequent releases up to 1990 when Pariah disbanded. A one off gig at Germany’s Wacken Open Air in 2004 brought Satan back together before the original line-up of vocalist Brian Ross, guitarists Steve Ramsey and Russ Tippins, bassist Graeme English, and drummer Sean Taylor came together for the 2011 Keep It True festival. In the period from Pariah and the reunion of Satan, Ramsey and English had formed folk metal band Skyclad whilst Ross had reformed his original band Blitzkrieg as well as starting new project Metalizer. From their return at the second festival though Satan performed at several  other festivals across Europe in 2011 and 2012 and now on the 30th anniversary of Court In The Act they unveil their brand new and it has to be said thoroughly enjoyable album.

Time to Die opens up the new release and instantly lures in attention with a waspish sonic beckoning from the guitar before cover_lstretching sinews and energy in to a rampant excitable stomp of crisp rhythms and badgering riffs. It is an immediately infectious declaration enhanced by the clean vocals of Ross. To be honest a desire for more snarl to the vocal attack does rear its head across the album but there is nothing you can give as valid reason to dismiss the great tone and delivery of the man and their impact on the rigorously tempting songs. With impressive guitar invention veining the track it is a pleasing start to the album soon backed up by the following slices of rock n roll.

     Twenty Twenty Five with its shadowed lyrics and pressing intensity wrapping melodic enterprise and evocative basslines continues the strong start whilst the likes of Cenotaph with its muscular hooks and contagious rhythmic inducement and the fiery insatiable energy driven Siege Mentality ignite an even stronger persuasion. Both songs are impossibly addictive and a refreshing adventure in the current metal aggression coursed scene, which applies to Life Sentence as a whole. It is an album which demands nothing and threatens even less for an easy ride but creatively and inventively its gives any current/new heavy and classic metal band or release a course on how to make instinctive and irresistible classic metal.

Songs like Incantations and Tears Of Blood offer up their distinct temptations to push on the appeal of the album with further pinnacles coming with the outstanding title track and closing song Another Universe. The first is a riot of sonic riffing and barbed rhythms with an anthemic chorus and breath, whilst the final song is an intriguing mix of ideas which evolve from a slow melodic temperance to a feisty stomp of incendiary guitar and smouldering vocals veined with precise invention.

Putting doubting expectations in their place with a sure command, the Listenable Records released Life Sentence is a richly satisfying and thrilling release which goes against all personal tastes for its genre seeds to leave a very welcome pleasure in their place. We cannot say if Satan has returned better than ever until exploring their first coming but they certainly have brought a new treat for the year.


RingMaster 22/05/2013

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