Sunday, December 1, 2013

Satan’s Host – Virgin Sails

In my formative metal years, I had always hoped that there would be bands that combined the music of more extreme styles of metal with cleaner vocals. Some bands had elements of this; certain power metal bands started incorporating blast beats, but no band had even come close to creating the sound I had hoped for. That is, until I found Satan’s Host. Led by the legendary Harry Conklin (Jag Panzer), Satan’s Host creates a serious blast of brutal metal with satisfying melodic overtones. It is worth mentioning, however, that this album isn’t simply an amalgamation of two contrasting styles. Instead, the band also uses occasional harsh vocals, and even some rougher clean vocals. In the end, the album feels pretty natural in its transition between vocal styles.

Right from the onset, Satan’s Host display a sludgy, doomy guitar tone on “Cor Malifecus – Heart of Evil”. Everything about the production and presentation of “Virgin Sails” feels like it was written for fans of crushing extreme metal. The production sounds almost cavernous, with its monolithic drum and guitar sounds. The music supports this, as it doesn’t simply rely on speed like most extreme metal (though there is no shortage of speed either). Instead, the opening track, for example, uses mid-paced riffs to amp up the heaviness, and let Conklin’s soothing vocals hypnotize you. Other tracks, such as "Of Beast and Men", display more prototypical death metal riffs (the opening riff of this track sounds like it was inspired by Cannibal Corpse).

With 8 full songs and almost 55 minutes of material, sometimes this album meanders around. There are no doubt definitive choruses throughout the record, but Satan’s Host does not conform to simplistic song structures. Instead, each song takes you on a journey through different tempos and feelings. Though this can initially be off-putting, it makes for a more satisfying experience in the long run, as there is always something new to discover on the album. With that said, I would not be averse to cutting a couple of songs. The two beginning tracks are standouts, but beyond those, none of the other songs are particularly notable. 

Virgin Sails” is not necessarily what you might expect if you’ve never heard Satan’s Host before. It is certainly darker, yet less brutal than I expected, but overall very impressive. There is an enormous supply of riffs, as well as the necessary aggression, so it should be enjoyable to fans of nearly all style of metals. With that said, if you struggle with more extreme styles of metal, this record is by no means catchy enough to convert you.

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"Cor Malifecus - Heart of Evil"
"Island of the Giant Ants"

Final Rating
4.0/5 or 80%. 

Written by Scott