OK, for such an epic release, first a brief history lesson. I’ve heard a few bits and pieces from Satan’s Host before, but it wasn’t until I did a little research into the band for the purposes of this review that I realised they originally formed 2 years before I was born! Sole remaining original member, guitarist Patrick Evil has been part of Satan’s Host since 1977, where the band played classic heavy metal (alongside Harry “Tyrant” Conklin of Jag Panzer, who joined the band in the 80s and is again the vocalist of the project). Splitting in the 80s, and re-forming in the mid-nineties (which is where I originally heard their stuff), they changed their style to a death/black hybrid. 2015 sees them sounding different again to what I recalled to my previous taster, and with two albums worth of material to devour no less.
Firstly I’m struck by the standout style of the releases, which are of a broody thrashy/ blackened fair, with a very much trad metal vibe echoing through their bones musically. Add in classic/power metal vocals alongside a few guttural growls here and there to balance out the falsetto shrieks, and that’s a rough approximation of what you can expect. Fans of the bands Satan and Hell most recent releases would certainly get a kick out of this musical approach, albeit this being a more extreme version of their style. I must commend them for certainly having a very recognisable, refreshing sound – I can count on one hand bands that have a sound remotely like these guys. Mercyful Fate on PCP and steroids!
Kicking off the adventure, ‘Pre-dating God Part 1’, has a great trad metal vibe to the song structures, whilst retaining the speed and crushing end of extremity with blasts of blackness mixed with its power metal heart which pounding strongly. Whilst the riffage mixes in so many styles, it just works so well you’d barely notice. The black metal runs mould in to the classic metal chugs before you know it due to their flawless execution, and the overall powerful, bold sound really grabs you by the throat. During tracks such as ‘Greed, Lust, Hate, War’ and ‘Embers of Will’ (my personal favourites from the 6 original tracks on this part of the release), you’ll find yourself being dragged through their twisted worlds as you sit mesmerised by it all, such is their ability to tell a story in music as well as lyrics. It’s a wild ride, for sure. Finishing ‘Part 1’ off is a cover of ‘See You in Hell’ by Grim Reaper, but once twisted into Satan’s Host own style, you’d barely notice it was a cover if you didn’t already know the original.
‘Pre-dating God Part 2’ carries on right from where the first part left off, but perhaps with a little more grit and aggression. Opening with ‘Fanning the Flames of Hell’, there seems to be more a snarl in the vocal work, more of a speedier, angrier attack to the music too, with blastbeats and some red hot fretwork melting your subwoofers with reckless abandon. ‘Soul Wrent’ and ‘Lady n’ the Snake’ are chugging brutes in style, bounding forth with a super heavy sound and some ridiculously high falsettos ringing around that would make the King himself blush. Before you know it, the last true track ‘Descending in the Shadow of Osiris’ has tied things into a much more classic metal style, with heartfelt vocals mixing up with blackened rasps amongst the weeping guitars, all wrapping things up pretty tastily. A classic metal mix of Pre-dating God from part 1 closes things as a bonus track, pretty much an un-needed addition in terms of the album flow, but still interesting enough to warrant addition.
All in all, I really got a kick out of these two releases. There’s a lot of material to consume, but it’s all of a high quality and they both work together so well, it’s clear to see why they were released as a 2 part epic of a singular vision. Satan’s Host are like a dream come true for trad metal heads that aren’t afraid of dabbling in things a little darker, harder and faster than the standard fare. But when you write albums like these, who would be surprised if many an ‘extreme-only’ metalhead is perhaps turned too? Killer stuff.
(8.5/10 Lars Christiansen)