Are you familiar with Satan? No not the ruler of the Underworld but the band. Yes, there’s a band with that, perhaps very unfortunately so, choice of name that may have helped to contain them in obscurity for much of their career.
Satan started out as far back as 1979 in Newcastle, England, and as a part of the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal Movement they were considered influential for playing a form of proto-thrash/speed metal that was fairly advanced by the standards of the early 1980’s. After a couple of demo tapes, in 1983 they issued their debut, Court in the Act, an incredible album. Then the name changing began, perhaps they realised that Satan would not particularly be a commercially marketable moniker. They released Out of Reach in 1985 under the label of Blind Fury but reverted to Satan for 1987’s Suspended Sentence. A year later they were billing themselves as Pariah and issuing two more albums, 1988’s The Kindred and 1989’s Blaze of Obscurity, then they rather disappeared until 1998’s Unity again as Pariah. Although the band has seen its share of roster changes as well, the Court in the Act lineup consisting of Brian Ross (vocals), Graeme English (bass), Sean Taylor (drums) and Steve Ramsey and Russ Tippins (guitars) reunited in 2011 and have since issued another full-length in Life Sentence (2013) and a live recording of North American shows with Trail of Fire (2014). Satan may have spent most of their lifetime enshrouded in obscurity, but now it’s time for you sit up and take notice of the criminally under-rated and under-exposed NWOBHM force that is Satan!
Satan‘s fourth studio release available through Amazon and other platforms on October 16, 2015, begins with a bang in “Farewell Evolution”. A wailing, but not overdone scream, I assume presented by Ross, erupts through the speakers as “Farewell Evolution” begins its frantic pace. A supercharged start to Atom by Atom that rips and thrashes along for four and a half minutes. The deliciously raw guitar riffs of Ramsey and Tippins continue with the charging pace of “Fallen Savior” that also allows Ross to stretch his vocal chords as well. Volume louder immediately! The second longest track at 5:29 on Atom by Atom, “Ruination” appears in the third position (sometimes known as a make or break slot for me…MAKE HUGE)! “The Devil’s Infantry” really kicks things up a notch, with my head in non-stop headbanging motions now, but it’s the albums title track “Atom by Atom” that is the crowning glory where I’m concerned. Unfortunately, the shortest track at a second under four minutes, “Atom by Atom” contains the most catchy singable chorus along with the flowing guitar prowess. “In Contempt” begins all doomy-like if that makes sense, but quickly evolves into another galloping riff-laden track. The catchiness of “My Own God” is certainly infectious and is a close rival to “Atom by Atom” for the top of the heap award on this album. I’m not exactly sure what “Ahriman” is about lyrically, but again it’s packed with outstanding musicality and an identifiable chorus, it seems that Atom by Atom just gets stronger as we go forth. The same is displayed during “Bound in Enmity”. After tracks like these I can only scratch my head in complete wonderment that they were not a bigger force to reckon with and a household name back in the heyday of the NWOBHM. Atom by Atom closes with the near seven minute “The Fall of Persephone”, an epic in every sense of the word. Absolutely fantastic job Satan, thanks for delivering Atom by Atom and hope to see you on tour again, perhaps even in Toronto next time?
I first stumbled upon Satan during my preparations for my first “Big Adventure Pilgrimage” to Sweden for 2013’s Sweden Rock Festival. I did some pre-Canada departure listening but was literally won over by their live set which you can read about here: A Canadian Decibel Geek in Sweden – Day #5 & 6 (June 8 & 9, 2013)