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My first introduction to Satyr was fellow KYS writer, Owen “2000’s metalcore” Morawitz, texting me the Spotify link to ‘Locus,’ saying I’d probably dig it because it’s like a proggier, heavier Dance Gavin Dance. And y’all know how much I like DGD these days. Turns out, Owen was correct: I do dig this bad boy! For Satyr’s debut LP is certainly a heavier, techier, and more prog iteration of the expressively colorful and colorfully expressive post-hardcore that DGD – and similar artists like Sianvar, Hail The Sun, Royal Coda, and Nova Charisma – produce to great effect. But ‘Locus‘ doesn’t stop there, as it delightfully mixes in funky elements of math-core and progressive-metalcore, creating an intricate, heavy, bouncy, and immensely fun record that’s full of character; a blueprint that was laid down by the band on their solid 2018 EP, ‘Neutrino!.’ Heavy comparisons to Fall Of Troy can and most likely will be made about Satyr (the intro to ‘Andromeda‘ gives off scary ‘F.C.P.R.E.M.I.X.‘ vibes), yet their influences never over-ride their own musical tastes and personal artistic touches. Which is a feat in of itself given the kind of music that they create.
‘Locus‘ is one fucking densely-packed listen. With an exceptional ear for bright luxurious tones, pedalboard kaleidoscopes, staccato chords, and sick tapping runs from riff-Visionaire and screamer, Michael “Soup” Campbell, it’s one hell of a vivid record. Stemming from all manner of lurching jagged rhythms, quick tempo changes, displaced grooves over 7 and the off-kilter drumming from weaponized percussionist and one of the band’s core songwriters, Brody “Brody” Smith, and the gourmet six-string bass plectrum action from the hands of Calvin “Dolphin” Cox sliding underneath the drums and guitars, it’s also a pretty complex piece too. Yet in all of its many techy movements, neither the vocal or the instrumental aspect of Satyr’s equally intricate and catchy sound lags; it’s all beautifully well-balanced. As guitarist/singer Janald “JD” Long, whose voice seems to have really grown since their EP, braves the vocal fort with wonderful timbre and vibrato, cutting right through these immense prog-post-hardcore tracks like scissors slicing right through paper.
These ten songs are on another level when compared to their first EP two years ago. Everything is harder and more technical to play, and yet it always remains engaging and tasteful. Something that band’s thrice this young group’s age, with five times as many records don’t always get right. The one-two punch of the sporadic, ascending guitar runs and stop-starting rhythms of ‘Apogee‘ that fire off after its opening snare count-in, and the aggressive, raw prog-metalcore chugging sounds of ‘Perigree‘ both inform you of what kind of sweet business Satry operate within. And son, business is booming! ‘Pathing‘ kinda sounds like a binned folder of GuitarPro riff ideas coalesced together and became sentient. Yet unlike the tech-deathcore wank-fest of artists like Rings Of Saturn who fit that description, this particular song never loses its artistry nor its sense of fun. A tight-rope act that Satyr balance like the very best out there. Not even counting its power-house choruses, sick low chugging, double-kick pops, and it’damned solid dual-vocal attack of screams and cleans.
Instrumental jams are nothing new to this U.S. band, and the vocal-less, textured prog-metal assault of ‘Mushroom‘ crams in as many notes as possible, with what are some of the hardest-sounding grooves of the entire full-length landing down around you like mortar fire. The gliding intimacy of ‘Aesop‘ gets the band’s tight alternate-picking harmonies going and some rapid-fire heavier metalcore-esque sections, whereas ‘Bird‘ is a little simpler in terms of composition and rhythms, but it refuses to lose an ounce of the band’s volcanic energy in the process; one of the more aggro, screaming-driven pieces of music to be had on ‘Locus.’ With the swinging, cheeky nature of ‘Levitator‘ makes Satyr sound like just that: levitating off the ground via wonderful snare rolls, big chords, interweaving between subtle metal parts, falsetto vocals and lighter, progressive instrumental passages, having such a great sense of timing and rhythm that’s so hard to shake. Excluding that of ‘Bird,’ ‘Null‘ is perhaps the record’s fastest, most instrumentally bludgeoning track. It’s familiar to what’s come before it on the LP but never sounds or feels tired and superfluous; it’s just s
The darker chord progressions and cold guitar noodling of ‘Not To Scale‘ quickly explodes into a melodic, scream-laden post-hardcore jam that sounds like 2004 just struck back with a cruel vengeance. Lead single, and perhaps the records crown jewel, ‘Picayune‘ takes on a more progressive metal vibe, with a fuckin’ ridiculous 21/16 rhythm that just makes the whole thing super gnarly, and that’s not even mentioning the song’s sleight-of-hand metric modulation either. Satyr aren’t just a near-perfectly curated mixture of post-hardcore, progressive, and math-core, they’re one of those rare bands that can be an impressive feat for musicians and non-musos alike.
‘Locus’ is an immensely enjoyable record because you can hear in the already layered, deeply textured music itself that the four band members themselves loved piecing this intricately detailed record together. You can just tell that they had real fun bringing this technical, math-post-hardcore LP to life. Their musicality and artistry are two-parts of a wonderful symbiotic relationship, perfectly balanced, as all things should be. With many comparisons to the bands who paved the way before them still being very much applicable here, ‘Locus’ never once feels like a cheap imitator; it can easily roll with the big hitters. Slowly but surely, Satyr are going to be making some big, intimidating waves moving forward within the lands of post-hardcore, mathcore, and progressive-metal. If there’s one newcomer group that deserves to blow up this year, it’s Satyr. This is a staggering step above their 2018 EP and will no doubt become one of 2020’s finest debut records. So pay close attention now.
05. Not to Scale