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Satan: Earth Infernal

NWOBHM legends Satan return with their sixth album, Earth Infernal (Metal Blade Records), and once again knock it out of the park as they continue to release some of the best music of their career since their return with Life Sentence back in 2013. Their now classic line-up for Earth Infernal is:

Brian Ross-Vocals
Russ Tippins-Guitar
Steve Ramsey-Guitar
Graeme English-Bass
Sean Taylor-Drums

One of the great things about all these recent Satan albums are just how well the band have captured that NWOBHM sound circa 1983 when they released their debut Court in the Act. Plenty of twin guitar harmonies and speedy riffs & drumming to be found throughout here on this latest, and the production has that slightly raw feel that take you back to those glorious days when underground British heavy metal bands were all the rage. Some of the highlights here include the blazing "A Sorrow Unspent", the riff heavy speed metal frenzy of "Ascendancy", the crushing headbanger "Twelve Infernal Lords", which contains some killer guitar work from the tandem of Tippins & Ramsey, and the more mid-paced melodic metal attack of "Luciferic", complete with a tremendous vocal from Ross, who really is on the top of his game throughout Earth Infernal with his excellent high pitched yet ultra melodic delivery. The rocking "From Second Sight" gallops along like early Iron Maiden, and there are no shortage of excellent, twisting riffs and solos on the lengthy closer "Earth We Bequeath".

We talk quite a bit here on SoT about these old school NWOBHM veterans like Saxon, Angelwitch, Tygers of Pan Tang, and Diamond Dead, all of whom are putting out arguably some of their strongest material in recent years, but with Satan, there is no argument. These last four albums since their reunion are all must-hear and easily their strongest releases...don't miss Earth Infernal folks, and don't be scared by the name. Satan are an amazing, melodic, classic sounding heavy metal/speed metal band, and this is a gem of an album.

Track Listing
01. Ascendancy
02. Burning Portrait
03. Twelve Infernal Lords
04. Mercury’s Shadow
05. A Sorrow Unspent
06. Luciferic
07. From Second Sight
08. Poison Elegy
09. The Blood Ran Deep
10. Earth We Bequeath

Added: May 8th 2022
Reviewer: Pete Pardo
Related Link: Band Facebook Page
Hits: 521
Language: english

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Satan: Earth Infernal
Posted by Brandon Miles, SoT Staff Writer on 2022-05-16 20:23:33
My Score:

NWOBHM legends Satan are on quite the hot streak. Since their triumphant return in 2013 with "Life Sentence", the veteran act has released killer album after killer album, with their newest release and subject of this review, "Earth Infernal", quite possibly being their best of the stretch. Pretty unbelievable to tell you the truth. There must be something in the water (or beer) in the boys' rehearsal space.

As I touched on at the start, these guys have been around a while. Their album "Court in the Act" is widely regarded as a criminally underrated classic in the NWOBHM surge, and truthfully "Earth Infernal" sounds like it could have been released directly after it, aside from some of the more topical and culturally relevant lyrics that can be found therein. This is a pessimistic compendium that brings to light unsettling trends and as most have become aware of through the course of recent history, the entire human race seemingly losing its collective shit. When you encounter a band named Satan, you might expect a torrent of hokey biblical references or tales of demons and their nefarious schemes, but these guys seem keen on alerting you to things that are much more real, and in turn (at least to me), much more worrying. Like the bony finger of the reaper himself sliding down your back, the themes combined with the music on "Earth Infernal" is spine tingling and hair raising.

The riffs are the star of the show on every single track on "Earth Infernal". Razor sharp dual guitars weaving in and out of each other's ways deftly, with an old school looseness and feel to them that is all at once so retro and yet elegant that you'd swear there actually are dark forces at work behind the scenes. Guitarists Russ Tippins and Steve Ramsey (also a member of one of the even more criminally underrated Skyclad) are a match made in heaven (or hell, given the circumstances) and you'd never guess they took such a long break from the band in the past, as their interplay and dual leads are fantastic. Graeme English and Sean Taylor are a great and thumpy rhythm section, with impressive fretboard runs and righteous ride cymbal work alike. Vocalist Brian Ross is perhaps one of the more idiosyncratic vocalists in the genre. He delivers his lines with a mid-range croon that doesn't sound like any other vocalist I can think of, especially in a scene that is dominated by both air raid sirens and gruff, snarlers alike. Ross is perhaps the most divisive element of the band, as his vocals may take some getting used to, but he does a great job and it gived the band even more of an identity.

The other potentially peculiar predicament of Satan's sound is the guitar tone, as it's not the typical wall of sound you'll hear these days. Very fitting given the band's status and age, and as I said, this sounds right at home in the early 80's, but some might expect the band to adapt to current trends in the tone multiverse. Doesn't affect me, aside from the fact that if you listen to a lot of current Metal (and I do), it's a stark contrast to what you probably normally listen to.

Each of the songs on this 10 track beast are winners, but there absolutely standouts. The two singles off of "Earth Infernal" were wisely chosen, as both "Burning Portrait" and "From Second Sight" are fantastic and great tracks to introduce newbies to the band. The riffs in "From Second Sight" are especially cutting and earwormy; probably the best snippet of sounds you can find on the album. Bonus points to the track for its biting commentary on conspiracy theorists, which is one of my biggest real world annoyances currently. "Twelve Infernal Lords" storms and blazes at a rapid pace, with dark aplomb, and the instrumental "Mercury's Shadow" is a memorable riff feast that will be wedged into your memory just as stiffly as the best vocal melodies the album has to offer. Dark and condemning album closer "Earth We Bequeath" is a fitting, storming funeral dirge for the planet itself, and predicts a future that seems almost inevitable with gripping tempo changes and thunderous riffs aplenty.

Very, very little to dislike or even be apathetic about with "Earth Infernal". Some tracks are sightly weaker than the ones mentioned, but really it's a variance of very good to great in all respects. It's an old school metal tour-de-force, with fantastic performances and themes that are at once dark and relevant. Pretty much all you can ask for from a legendary act that continues it's run of excellence. "Earth Infernal" is essential to fans of NWOBHM and traditional metal alike.

2004 Sea Of Tranquility
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