Album Review – Satan, “Earth Infernal” (2022)


Earth Infernal

2022, Metal Blade Records

Rating: 85%

As metal roared back to the forefront of public consciousness in the new millennium, it led to a curious wave of 1980s and 1990s cult artists reuniting and attempting to capture the spotlight once again. In some cases, these reunions amounted to little more than one-off festival appearance for the faithful, while others managed to resume their recording careers with various degrees of success. Case in the point, unfortunately named UK traditional/speed metallers Satan, whose career enjoyed a resurgence of sorts with a slew of releases starting with 2011’s “Life Sentence” and continuing all the way to their newest offering, 2022’s “Earth Infernal”.

Despite the band’s name evoking much harsher imagery and sound, Satan remains true to their NWOBHM roots, keeping to a sound characterized by speedy riffing, melodic vocals, and slight flair for the dramatic. To be fully transparent, I missed the band the first time around. Surely enough, I have heard the name, and was aware of the band’s history rife with name changes and attempts to find audience appreciative of its brand of metal, however, I have not listened to Satan in any meaningful way until fairly recently. As a result, “Earth Infernal” was my first true foray into what the band has to offer, with no real reference point.

So, what do we have here? How about ten tracks that would not have been out of place in speed metal’s mid-1980s heyday, hinting just enough at power and thrash metal without crossing fully into those territories? The lyrics harken back to the glorious apogee of the era when metal was still irreverent and when songs about everyone’s favorite fallen angel were still somewhat shocking, coming through with enough conviction to let you know that this band is for real, and is having fun with it. The album’s production is on the raw side, which fits the sound well, and adds certain authenticity to it.

Satan keeps moods and tempos sufficiently varied that the songs stand out on their own. There are moments where the band can spend a bit longer getting to the meat of the song than some of their more straightforward peers, but the songs generally do not overstay their welcome, and have enough memorable parts where repeated listens reveal additional layers, melodies, or other elements. At their best, Satan brings up memories of pure unbridled energy once inherent in metal during more innocent times – it is hard not to headbang with complete abandon to the sounds of “A Sorrow Unspent” or “The Blood Ran Deep”, while “Ascendancy” at times felt like a spiritual successor to Judas Priest’s anthem “Exciter”. Brian Ross’s vocals are occasionally reminiscent of Jag Panzer’s Harry Conklin, though perhaps not as operatic, and they fit the music like a glove.

Now, there are more polished bands out there, and “Earth Infernal” is not by any means a groundbreaking album, but it is a highly enjoyable throwback to the era when denim, leather, and spikes ruled the pit, and when the shadow of Lucifer sent PRMC into paroxysms. For the retro metal fan in all of us, it is hard to do better, because unlike many modern-day artists, Satan were there in the genre’s heyday, and are still going strong. “Earth Infernal” is not going to change the world, but it is a quality album made with heart and conviction, and it shows. Good stuff.

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