Satan - Cruel Magic

Satan - Cruel Magic

(CD/LP, Metal Blade, 2018)

They say that “third time’s a charm” and this would apply to UK’s NWOBHM legends of SATAN if the two albums they released after 1987’s “Suspended Sentenced” would have been mediocre... Ha, not even close, because SATAN, as super-charged teenagers, have dropped two impressive LPs which continue the saga “Court In The Act” started 35 years ago. And this brings us to the charm titled “Cruel Magic” which has failed in every aspect to break the impressive winning streak these fine UK blokes have been on since 2013.

That’s right; “Cruel Magic” follows the steps of “Atom By Atom” and has all the things that make SATAN such a great band. You can hear this right away in the LP opener “Into The Mouth Of Eternity” which carries that sweet guitar sound before putting the pedal to the Metal letting the riffs kick into the high gear. The icing on this NWOBHM cake is Brian Ross who can (still) handle both the highs and the lows with the singing stamina many youngsters would kill to possess. Ok, this may sound like an overstatement since this is a studio recording where you can always sip some warm tea between challenging singing sessions, but having seen Mr. Ross performing live, I can totally back up my statement without any remorse. Musically, the song is not a straightforward full-speed on Heavy Metal track but has the amount of tempo and melodic changes that make SATAN so recognizable. I mean, how can you not headbang during the main rhythm section? Let’s not forget the awesome bass guitar sound that has a heavier footing on the first and fast part of the album’s title track, before realizing that there is always some room for some cowbell action - how cool is that? Yes, SATAN get a bit more old-school here and mix magic with some ‘70 Hard Rock parts, and if you don’t hear this, then check the guitar solo. What got me hooked in the album right from the start is the diversity of the songs speed-wise and consequently atmosphere-wise, and I am not talking about one song compared to the next one. Take for example, “Legions Hellbound” which at first seems to be a straightforward headbanger which it is before getting ‘70s-on-you with another awesome guitar solo somewhere in the middle. This is where the song-writing quality shines and there is no way to copy that, because it is deeply rooted in the lineup’s DNA. You may think I am exaggerating now, but how many bands from the ‘80s you can think of that can produce this high-quality Heavy Metal without copy/pasting their own material?

One of the songs that took more time to get stuck was the mid-tempo “Ophidian”. Its dark aesthetics will take some time to sink in and Brian’s theatrical singing will be the ultimate guide here and make sure to do a couple of listenings with headphones to enjoy the phaser effect on the guitar (I may be totally wrong on the guitar effect, but it does not really matter as it sounds awesome). Also, I would like to learn who is doing the evil sounding vocals close to the end. Among the immediate-favorites list, the riffs-gallore “Death Knell For A King” and the dramatic “Ghosts Of Monongah” where the chanting-along vocal lines combined with the story the lyrics are telling will send shivers down your spine. The main riff and the galloping part on this one will speak straight to your NWOBHM heart.

The album closes with the impressive piece “Mortality”; during its six minutes, SATAN are flirting with being Progressive, but not in a showing-off-my-skill kind of way. Once again, there is a ‘70s aura lurking behind the guitar-layers and the basslines which often lay down some super-sweet leads. After indulging into the complexity of the guitar, you should spend some time to appreciate (even further) Brian Ross’ singing which roams on wide octave range with impressive power.

It is hard to choose with what to get impressed by with “Cruel Magic”; can it be that this is the third album in a row that sounds this awesome? Or maybe that these fine musicians have been so inspired that have filled three whole albums with killer songs? Well, it is all of the above and then some, so invest with eyes closed! SATAN is back!





01. Into The Mouth Of Eternity
02. Cruel Magic
03. The Doomsday Clock
04. Legions Hellbound
05. Ophidian
06. My Prophetic Soul
07. Death Knell For A King
08. Who Among Us
09. Ghosts Of Monongah
10. Mortality


Steve Ramsey - Guitars
Russ Tippins - Guitars
Graeme English - Bass
Sean Taylor - Drums
Brian Ross - Vocals