I feel very comfortable when I say that Satyr are one of the most underrated acts in metal today. Their blend of progressive metal and metalcore calls back to the heyday of that mix back in the early 2010’s without dipping into any of the tired tropes of the period. Eschewing the tired and somewhat lackluster of chugs, Satyr instead turn to swan-core and Protest the Hero for their groundwork. However, they inject both of these mainstays of modern metal with more heaviness than you might otherwise expect to hear on them, coming up at their own ultra-energetic elixir of the above cited influences.
Just listen to their latest single, “Whelmed” (insert “far from being whelmed” joke here) for a taste. The blast-beats, the shreds near the end of the track, the harsh vocals, the whole vibe of it is reminiscent of Satyr’s excellent 2020 release, Locus, but takes it one step further. As they gear up to release Totem next week, from which this new step in their sound is taken, we got the chance to link up with the band and dig into their influences as part of our “The Anatomy Of” series of posts. Some of the choices won’t surprise you if you paid attention to my opening paragraph but some are less obvious and add interesting layers to the Satyr story.
Find all of these selections and more down below and don’t forget to pre-order Totem; it’s one of my most expected releases of the year!
Michael Campbell (Guitar/Harsh vocals)
Hail the Sun – Wake
Wake is easily my favorite album of all time. It’s the epitome of picking a niche theme, going all in, and nailing it. It’s so haunting and demonic in many ways, both in lyrics and music. The songs I make in Satyr is extremely influenced by the grooves on this album. The way the melodies are so catchy while the instrumentals are technical enough to be impressive but still held back enough to leave space and be hummable is immensely impressive to me. I also love their particular use of odd time signatures, which has had a profound impact on the music I write. They slip in a quick 7 but in such a seamless way that the average listener wouldn’t even notice it.
This album is just mathy enough to catch the ear of a more theory minded person like me, but not too technical and crazy to turn off the average person. The most important thing about this album to me is how concise it is. The songs are all the perfect mix of similar and different to each other and there is a clear goal and direction they are all moving towards together, while each being unique enough to stand on their own. Such an amazingly dark yet beautiful album.
The Story So Far – Under Soil and Dirt
This is the perfect 2010s pop punk album in my mind. It’s so piercingly simple in structure and songwriting but crafted so well that the songs just come off so effortless. I’ve always loved pop punk just as much as post hardcore, and the two genres influenced me a great deal and I brought that influence to writing in Satyr. The Story So Far write top tier vocal melodies over the most well written and well structured guitar riffs, something I try to emulate in our music especially. I feel like in a lot of ways our songs have pop punk vocals over top post hardcore instrumentals. There is something so impressive about pop punk vocalists being able to make the most emotional and poignant passage with even just three notes, just hammering in the standard resolve to the tonic.
There are several vocal parts on this album where their singer sits in that three note pocket, then drops in a jump up to the fourth scale degree, and it seems like the most amazing and genius move when he’s literally singing one half step higher. Something in the profound simplicity of that kind of vocal writing has always stuck with me ever since I first found this album ten years ago. It’s taught me a lot about the less is more approach to songwriting.
Janald Long (Guitar/Clean vocals)
The Fall of Troy – The Fall of Troy
This album plays a significant role in my reasons for even wanting to play and explore other progressive/post hardcore music. It was between 2010 or 2011 and I remember the main bands I listened to that I considered “heavy” at the time were Hawthorne Heights and this local band I found online from LA called The Messenger. I just remember one day the YouTube algorithm blessed me one day and I came across the song “Rockstar Nailbomb”. After hearing it for the first time, I instantly looked up the tabs to see what they were playing because I was so baffled by the sound of something that wasn’t solely power chords or basic major and minor shapes on guitar. Once I learned how to play 1-5-7 and 1-3-7 shapes, I literally said to myself THIS is the type of stuff I want to play and write.
After hearing this one song, I then downloaded every song on the album via the YouTube to MP3 converter app and was completely blown away. Once I found out they were only around the age of 16 when they recorded it, that boosted my drive to want to switch up how I wrote songs and solidify the sound of the band I was playing in at the time. This album also influenced my attempts to be more loose and creative with the titles of the songs I would write back then. It’s fair to say that anytime I listen to a song off this album, I still get that excited feeling I had when I first even discovered it.
Finding this album led me to so many other groups, specifically Dance Gavin Dance and CHON before they’d even released an EP. Altogether these 3 bands shaped my path when it comes to playing this specific type of music as a whole and dabbling in genre bending, but I’m thankful it all started after lucking out and finding one song that would alter the way I even approach playing guitar.
Periphery – Periphery II: This Time It’s Personal
This album is responsible for completely shifting the way I write lyrics as a whole to this day. I remember one of my best friends putting me onto Periphery in 2014 around when Juggernaut was about to dropped. I was immediately intrigued when I heard the singles they’d put out at that point and thus began my journey down the rabbit hole. Of course after hearing their newer material, my friend introduced me to more of their older material which I enjoyed as well but this album in particular resonated with me the most. Not only were the lyrics captivating but the instrumentation also deserves credit for expanding my knowledge of extended chords and melodies.
It’s still hard for me to even decide what my absolute favorite song is on the album but both “Ji” and “Froggin’ Bullfish” definitely hold a special place in my heart solely for the vocals, lyrics and guitars. I feel like I’ve interpreted most of the lyrics on this album in my own way but I know it says something when I’m singing the words by myself and the energy I put behind the words feel as if they were my own. This album touches on a lot of subjects such as struggles within the human condition, interconnection between everyone as a species, the loss of someone that possessed potential, and many others.
Prior to hearing this album, most of the main topics I would write about were essentially love songs and personal issues such as alienation, depression, etc.. Most of Satyr’s lyrics are still based around those personal issues but I find myself expanding deeper on them and writing my thoughts strictly based off my stream of consciousness. I’ve also written lyrics that focus on thoughts about existentialism and my personal battle with deciding if I’m agnostic or an atheist. All in all, this album truly is a masterpiece and a huge inspiration in my role as a lyricist with the band.
Brody Smith (Drums)
Rush – Moving Pictures
If I had to pick one album that influenced me the most, it would probably have to be Moving Pictures by Rush. This album just has such a special energy & is full of un-skippable songs.
Neil’s drumming is obviously a huge part of my obsession with Rush. His choices throughout the album & Rush’s entire discography are all so memorable & while I’ve always found his ideas to be very catchy, I think I’ve come to appreciate how well placed they are now more than ever.
One thing in particular about Neil’s playing is how he’ll subtly change certain things when a section in the song repeats. For example, the verses in “Tom Sawyer” all have different little rhythmic stabs on each repetition. This kind of approach is something I’ve heavily applied to my own writing on the drums but also in the full instrumental compositions within Satyr as well. For some reason, I have this weird insecurity about playing a section the same way twice in a song. To be clear, I’m not talking about improvising necessarily, as I tend to make a point to play the same exact thing night after night on tour. I more so mean that I’ll add or subtract certain subtleties between repetitions in a song like Neil. Neil Peart’s playing is definitely an inspiration & also kind of an excuse of sorts for me to continue applying this approach to my writing, as it can definitely seem unnecessary at times haha.
Aside from the drumming on this album, I’m of course a huge fan of Alex’s guitar lines & Geddy’s vocal melodies & bass lines. The way Geddy will lock in with Neil’s fills is a huge inspiration. Those kinds of through-composed rhythms between the drums & bass that are subtly placed throughout certain songs are moments I’ll always get stoked about.
Alex’s guitar lines & riffs & the way they mesh with Geddy’s vocal lines are always a highlight in any Rush song. If I had to pick a favorite or two off the album that also contain all these subtleties, I’d have to pick either “Red Barchetta” or “The Camera Eye”.
Moving Pictures is an iconic Rush album, but also an iconic album for any music fan, particularly for anyone who plays an instrument. There’re so many things to nerd out about within each song, but they also each seem to bring out this unexplainable, intuitive & emotional reaction in me with each repeat listen.