Satan – Cruel Magic

 

cruel magic cover

Satan – Cruel Magic
Metal Blade Records
Release Date: 07/09/2018
Running Time: 49:42
Review by Chris Galea
10/10

With a debut album released back in 1983, it was only after Satan’s 2011 reunion that the quintet started becoming relatively prolific as a recording band. Truth be told, Satan have been fairly consistent in the quality of their material, a fact complemented by a reputation for impressive live shows. With this “Cruel Magic”, the band notches 5 albums and therein lies the band’s dilemma: how do they retain the style that has gained them fame and admiration while not stagnating?

For a start the band has gone for a rawer, more ‘live’ sound. Regarding this aspiration, I read somewhere that in the recording studio they tried to resist the temptation to make too many takes, even if that meant leaving individual mistakes in the final product. And I have to say that’s certainly the impression I got from listening to the album. Rather than put me off, this approach was a masterstroke – it somehow gives the songs more appeal, makes them feel more genuine, more intuitive.

But the biggest achievement of “Cruel Magic” is that none of the songs feel boring and yet you know that they can only come from Satan. This is all down to the excellence of the songwriting. The riffs and vocals phrasings of ‘Into The Mouth of Eternity’ remind us that Metallica were one of the many bands influenced by Satan. ‘Ophidian’ is destined to be a classic in Satan’s repertoire. Besides having some blistering guitar solos ‘Legions Hellbound’ is notable for the smooth way the songs shifts from/to mellow and heavy parts.

I loved the guitar harmonies of ‘The Doomsday Clock’, a song about impending doom. ‘Ghosts Of Monongah’ is about the West Virginia mining tragedy of 1907 while in ‘Who Among Us’ Satan rise to the defence of Jesus Christ’s messages. You can see that even thematically, “Cruel Magic” is diverse, even though the songs seem to have a common thread of a foreboding doom. Suitably enough, the album ends with ‘Mortality’, a song where Satan play around with atmospheres and guitar sounds with interesting results.

Spot-on drumming, great melodies, inspired guitar solos, excellent songwriting….what more can one hope for? This is an album that I am liking more and more with each listen.

I’m generally hesitant to give full marks ratings but “Cruel Magic” is the archetype of all that is great about Heavy Metal.

TRACKLISTING:
1. Into The Mouth of Eternity
2. Cruel Magic
3. The Doomsday Clock
4. Legions Hellbound
5. Ophidian
6. My Prophetic Soul
7. Death Knell For A King
8. Who Among Us
9. Ghosts Of Monongah
10. Mortality

LINE-UP:
Brian Ross – vocals
Russ Tippins – guitars
Steve Ramsey – guitars
Graeme English – bass
Sean Taylor – drums

LINKS:
http://www.satanmusic.com/
https://www.facebook.com/officialsatanpage

https://satanuk.bandcamp.com
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UuLTFfi-peM ‘The Doomsday Clock’ (Official Video)

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