“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.” I wrote that as my opening line when reviewing SATAN – Atom By Atom in 2015. I stand by it now, approximately three years later. That very Atom By Atom release saw placement securely in the midsection of my top ten albums of 2015. Now the NWOBHM band is back with SATAN – Cruel Magic which released on September 7, 2018 courtesy of Metal Blade.
SATAN – A Brief History
I also wrote this short bio in 2015: “Satan started out as far back as 1979 in Newcastle, England. 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 realized 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 – Cruel Magic (Album Review)
Flying under the radar is a Satan specialty. And Cruel Magic is no exception as it was a surprising discovery to find it existed. After a rollicking lead-in, “Into the Mouth of Eternity” opens up proper. Loaded with hooks, tempo changes and a chugging verse designed to create neck soreness, Satan is better than ever! The raw production coupled with Ross‘ distinctive vocals provide a fabulous earthy texture to the album. The title track exhibits an epicness as it rips along. Beginning with a brief acoustic, “The Doomsday Clock” soon thunders out of the gates. Check out the official video below.
Of the remaining seven of the ten tracks on Cruel Magic, “Ghosts of Monongah” is a real standout for me. Love the opening riffs loaded with energy and power. Also super noteworthy are “Legions Hellbound” and “My Prophetic Soul”. But seriously every song is fantastic with absolutely no fillers.
SATAN – Cruel Magic is a foot to the floor, pedal to the metal, blistering, high-speed thrashing, NWOBHM album from start to finish. While I don’t find it quite as addictive as its predecessor, that may come on a few more rotations. It is certainly a worthy follow up release in every sense of the word. I think Satan is better now than they ever were and I anticipate seeing them again at Frost & Fire Festival in Ventura California in a few short weeks. Check out the US Tour Dates and catch them in your city.