Published on October 28th, 2018 | by Justin G.
Satan: Cruel Magic (Metal Blade)
The saga of English heavy metal band Satan is one of my favorite comeback stories in metal. They released a key album in the legendary NWOBHM era (1983’s Court in the Act), a less well-received follow-up (1987’s Suspended Sentence) and then disappeared for a quarter century only to return seemingly stronger than ever with a string of fantastic albums. Their new album, titled Cruel Magic, is the band’s third since reforming, and their first on the Metal Blade label.
Once again the lineup from Court in the Act is present and accounted for, and once again the band manages to capture that same (cruel?) magic. The high speed riffs, frenetic drumming and energetic vocals that made Satan so effective in the NWOBHM heyday are still very much a part of their sound all these years later. If there’s a change from that time (or indeed from their last two albums), it’s that the songs on Cruel Magic seem a bit more melodic. Not exactly slowed down, but not as frantic either. Kind of a happy medium between Diamond Head and Angel Witch.
Cruel Magic is a really strong album throughout, whether it’s high-speed headbangers like “The Doomsday Clock” and “Ghosts of Monongah,” the epic storytelling of “Legions Hellbound” or heavier numbers like the doomlike “Mortality” and “Ophidian.” Each song is memorable, and they all complement each other well, with nothing seeming out of place and nothing that feels like it was tacked on to pad the running time.
I suppose after three exceptional albums in a row I should stop being pleasantly surprised by how good each new Satan album is. They’re not “good for a bunch of old guys” or even “good for a reunited NWOBHM band;” they’re putting out first rate heavy metal that can go head-to-head with the likes of Judas Priest and Saxon as well as up-and-comers like Night Demon and Visigoth. Bottom line: if you’re looking for the best traditional metal, let Satan show you the way.
Summary: Hail Satan!