Tuesday, 25 August 2020

Satanica - Resurrection of Devil's Spirit (2020)

Country: Japan
Style: Heavy/Power Metal
Rating: 7/10
Release Date: 24 Jul 2020
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With their corpse paint, Satanica could be mistaken for a black metal band, but their poses suggest that they took their look directly from Kiss. Black Widow certainly feels like a Kiss song in pretty much every way and it isn't too difficult to find their influence elsewhere either. The first Satanica album, after all, was called Knights in Satanic Service, as a nod to the old PMRC explanation of KISS as an acronym. Nice.

Mostly, they're a little heavier than Kiss, with a riff-driven sound right out of the Judas Priest playbook, often as filtered through the NWOBHM era and power metal from a little later. The most Priest influenced song here is the instrumental, Kamikaze, which is a decent workout for the twin guitars of Ozzie Alastor and Shee Lipps. The influence is there throughout, though, from beginning to end, starting with the opening track, Resurrection.

The NWOBHM feel is most obvious in Dark Star, which could have been a song from the Midlands in 1981; it almost sounds familiar. Deal with the Devil starts out heavy in ways I'd associate more with later Metallica or Pantera, but ends up back in NWOBHM territory. Thunderstorm sounds like a Tokyo Blade song and, while Satanica hail from Japan, Tokyo Blade, their eastern name and image notwithstanding, don't. They're British through and through.

There's some Accept in Thunderstorm too, but those Teutonic riffs show up a lot here. Liar is the most obviously Accept-influenced song, with its strong and relentless pace and its effortless power. I half expected it to become Princess of the Dawn. Like a Fire nails that quintessential Accept drive as well, especially with guitars soloing all over it.

Satanica aren't a new band but they don't date back to the heyday of bands like Bow Wow and Loudness. They were formed in 2002 and put out that debut a couple of years later. This is only their fourth album, coming a full decade after its predecessor, so we might expect a more modern sound than this. It certainly sounds like a 2020 album because of the production, which is heavy at the back end, but the band are looking backwards throughout.

And the result sounds pretty good to me. It's a decent mix: memorable NWOBHM song structures that are full of reliable Teutonic riffs, Priestly solos and Kiss melodies. The voice of Ritti Danger somehow fits all those components, not even attempting the high notes we might expect at points but managing to do a good job regardless, even if he's keeping the beat throughout because he's also the band's drummer.

This is a long way the most original album I've heard in 2020 but it's clear that Satanica aren't particularly interested in original. They just do what they do as well as they can, influences worn on their sleeves. It's telling that, while I can pick my favourites here pretty easily, such as Dark Star, Kamikaze and Liar, there's nothing beneath a second tier of enjoyable songs. I'd be happy to hear any one of these on a metal radio show.

Let's hope the satanic name, look and album titles don't distract potential listeners from checking them out, because this will be right up the alley of old and new school NWOBHM fans everywhere.

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