Satyricon Set Stage Ablaze With Devilish Intent
“We have no political message or anything,” Satyricon frontman Satyr said shortly after a scorching set by Taiwanese black metal freedom fighters Chthonic. “We just have the message of black metal.”
And that was all it took. Satyricon may not wear corpse paint or spiked shin guards anymore, and they’ve mostly forsaken blast beats for thundering double-bass rolls and trad rock progressions, but they still convey a bleak pagan sentiment born straight from dense, looming forests, icy Norwegian winters and pain — lots of pain.
“The wear and tear of agony stretched, it makes us stick to the cause,” read a manifesto written across one of Frost’s bass drums. The line is from ‘The Sign of the Trident’ from Satyricon’s latest album, ‘The Age of Nero,’ and it encapsulates the fight Satyricon have undergone for much of their career, and even now. By the time they played this, the final U.S. show of the current album cycle, opening bands Bleeding Through and Toxic Holocaust had dropped off the bill for various reasons. And still Satyicon forged ahead.
While some of the speed of Satyricon’s attack has abated, the band’s sinister, minor-key riffs and epic textures — bred from a well of Celtic Frost, Black Sabbath and Venom — are as mosh-motivating and inspiring as they are brutal. And while Frost hides behind his colossal crow’s nest hammering out beats with the precision of a machine, frontman Satyr is a theatrical focal point, lashing out feral growls with equal parts menace and flamboyance.
Clad in a collared black shirt, hair slicked back and clutching a two-pronged trident that looked a little like a pedestal and doubled as a mike stand, the vocalist was an unconventional, yet imposing presence. And while his interaction with the audience was limited, he repeatedly got his point across. ‘I was pleased by the reaction we got from this song when we were here six months ago,’ he announced before the band launched into the crushing, epic and orchestral ‘Die By My Hand.’ ‘This time let’s see you get even more insane.’
Most of the set was culled from the ‘The Age of Nero’ and 2006’s ‘Now, Diabolical,’ and the songs sounded crushing and unrepentant as Satyiron blazed through the majestic ‘Black Crow on a Tombstone,’ the stomping ‘Now, Diabolical,’ the stealthy ‘Commando’ and the harrowing, rhythmically-skewed ‘K.I.N.G.’
Between newer offerings, the band reached back into the crypt, performing three songs from 2002’s innovative neo-black feast ‘Volcano’ (‘Fuel for Hatred,’ ‘Repined Bastard Nation’ and ‘With Ravenous Hunger’), and they even treated the crowd to ‘Forhekset’ from 1996’s landmark ‘Nemesis Divina.’
Throughout the show, Satyricon were flanked by a lineup of touring musicians that included guitarists Steinar ‘Azarak’ Gundersen and Gildas Le Pape, bassist Anders ‘Neddo’ Odden and keyboardist Jonna Nikula. But while each headbanged, snarled and played their hearts out, in the end it was the Satyr’s charisma and Frost’s battering ram intensity that stole the blackened souls of even the greatest skeptics. The ravaged beast rages on.