Satyricon continue to move toward a more mainstream black metal sound (if there is such a thing) on their somewhat awkward eponymous album. And if you aren’t sure what I mean, you will as soon as “Phoenix” emerges from the doom and gloom with its clean vocals and crystal production. In the context this album, it begs the question, “WTF?”

But this isn’t Satyricon’s only shift toward the more melodic on their eighth studio release. “Nekrohaven” has sharp hooks that defy the heavy underpinnings, and “The Infinity of Time and Space” plays out like a brooding, Gothic epic and clocks in at seven-plus minutes. That said, Satyr and Frost take time to traipse through darker forests, as expected, particularly with the brooding fury of “Tro og Kraft” and “Our World, It Rumbles Tonight.”

This album is oddly palatable, and Satyricon’s desire to circumvent expectations comes off as true. The results aren’t perfect, but you can’t blame these old devils for trying.

Satyricon is out September 17 on Nuclear Blast Records.

Rating: 3.5/5 Stars