Satyricon

support Suicidal Angels + Fight The Fight
author RUB date 19/10/17 venue Train, Århus, DEN

Dark and windy. That’s the type of weather you want for a black metal concert, especially when it’s of the Norwegian kind. Satyricon is once again alive and back in Denmark, and having just played in Copenhagen, they are now ready to take on Århus. It’s been a while since they last visited, as the band has been on what you could call ‘standby’ ever since its frontman, Satyr, was diagnosed with a brain tumor in 2015. Having been quiet for such a long time, people were starting to fear the worst, so when the band finally announced their return to the metal scene — both with concerts and a new album, “Deep Calleth Upon Deep”, fans all over the world could finally rejoice. All seems to be well for now, and it would show that the time Satyricon has spent away from the stage definitely hasn’t done them any harm. Before the concert, the venue announced on Facebook that Satyricon would play an extra-long set tonight, so there was plenty to look forward to. First up, however, is the task of warming up the crowd, which has been left in the hands of fellow Norwegian act Fight The Fight.

All photos courtesy of Sebastian Dammark

Fight The Fight

When the five members enter the stage, it is with an appearance that’s strikingly odd; they don’t look anything like a black metal band. Having not heard the band before, I’m therefore not quite sure what to expect. But it turns out that it isn’t black metal at all. Rather, it is melodic hardcore in the vein of Bury Tomorrow and Architects on some songs, and melodic death metal in the vein of Mercenary on others. But albeit being a very strange pick for a warmup band for Satyricon, the band in question performs pretty well. The music is fairly straightforward and digestible with some semi-clean vocals in the choruses. They’re also very energetic on stage and use the small space they’ve been given well, even though most of the stage is packed with the huge setup for Satyricon. The crowd, on the other hand, is very small — I count only 20 to 30 people in front of the stage. The rest are scattered either at the merchandise stand, bar or the various tables around the venue — everywhere but the stage floor. When the line to the bar is bigger than the actual crowd listening to the music, it’s never a good sign. The band on the other hand, is actually doing a pretty good job, but it is fairly obvious that this is not their audience — people are here for the black metal.

The songs are catchy and delivered with high energy, and apart from the standard melodic approach, the riffs are quite quirky — in a good way, of course. This underlines the possibilities in this band, and as the warm-up act for either of the artists mentioned above — Architects and Bury Tomorrow — this could be a very different experience. But since this is a black metal crowd, the reception is lukewarm at best. People still clap between songs and cheer when asked if they’re ready for Satyricon, but it seems to be a matter of courtesy, rather than actual enjoyment. This doesn’t stop the band from trying to get the crowd moving, though; with both the classic fist pump and shouts of “‘ey! ‘ey! ‘ey!”, they try to liven up the audience, and one of the guitarists even jumps into the crowd during the last song. But little does it help; the response is rather flat. After roughly 30 minutes, the band thanks the audience, and is cheered off stage.

5

Suicidal Angels

Next up is the four-piece Suicidal Angels from Greece, who play Kreator-style thrash. “Capital of War” from last year’s “Division of Blood” kicks off the concert, and this draws people to join the stage floor at last to take part in the thrash party, although, it must be said, without much movement. This makes lead singer Nick Melissourgos yell in a commanding way: “I wanna fucking see you moving down there!”, which makes the first couple of rows go crazy with headbanging. And when a surprise ‘breakdown’ of silence during the second song occurs, a loud cheer from the crowd ensues. More and more people start to bang their heads to the fast, aggressive and solo-infused music, albeit the crowd still being quite scattered. This is textbook-thrash and the people in front of the stage are starting to take a liking to it, which manifests in a resounding audience chant when the fourth track begins. As was the case with the first band, this is obviously a black metal crowd, so besides the the people at the very front, most of the the audience only resort to light nodding, tapping their feet and throwing a horn or two up in the air.

With “Seed of Evil”, we get a moshpit-friendly track, with the monotone chorus repeating, “I am the seed of evil”. The pit doesn’t last long, but that doesn’t stop Melissourgos’ from trying to get people going again. And after a few tries with the pit, he gives the wall of death a go. “We want to see some real fucking violence — no fucking bullshit!”, he roars, but it falls rather flat since only short of 15 people decide to participate. Yet still, he does not want to give up, trying for a last time during the final track, but alas, only managing to get a handful of patrons moving as commanded. So the feeling of the concert unfortunately turns out to be a bit meh. I’m not sure whether this warmup is very fitting, being stylistically so different to Satyricon, but compared to the first band, they still manage to get people going to a greater extent during the 45 mins they play, albeit the concert not turning out as particularly memorable.

6

Satyricon

And now, for something completely different! To me, Satyricon has always been able to write music with atmosphere — it’s almost like they manage to incorporate the darkness of their home country in the bleak and gloomy compositions. And entering the stage to a theatrical intro, the members begin the ominous carnage. By the iconic microphone stand, there is Satyr, issuing commands to the audience — and this time around, it works! Every fist is in the air and Satyr is leading them to war to his band’s marching tunes. Frost, behind the drum kit, ensures that the drums generate a rumble while Satyr controls the crowd, and it quickly becomes evident that he has them in a tight grip. When the second track (the title track) from the band’s newest outing, “Deep Calleth Upon Deep”, airs, it is clear that these new songs work really well live. The reason I mention this, is that I’m not yet entirely convinced by what I’ve heard off it. But when played in a live setting, it sounds obviously different.

At one point, the entire band leaves the stage just to enter again to another grandiose, industrial intro piece, its malevolent tone warning us of what’s about to unfold. The devil horns are slowly raised, and as the drums manifest in a beat, the venue transforms into an enormous chanting of “‘ey!” in rhythm with the pounding drums, ensuring that the atmosphere turns really dark. People are not particularly active though; there is no moshing, no circle-pits — only a very successful attempt at crowd surfing. But this is a good thing, since the audience looks to be in a trancelike state because of the droning songs, and do their best to really ease themselves into them. When the songs aren’t slow and heavy, they blast away in an inferno of tremolo and blastbeats, and all of the musicians handle these sections very tightly tonight. Satyr looks and sounds especially great, and whatever impact the aforementioned brain tumor might ave made is nowhere to be seen or heard.

When “Now, Diabolical” airs, the floor finally loses it — the sing-along part in the chorus is absolutely insane. Satyr is once again acting as the commanding officer, with people obeying his every move. After this show of force, the tempo is then once again taken down to a droning state, which admittedly has a negative impact on some people. You can now clearly hear people talking, although maybe it’s just two very drunk guys in front of me that really annoy me with their 15 minutes of conversation. This forces me to switch position so that I can enjoy the concert again — not cool, guys! Luckily, it doesn’t take anything away from the concert for me, because I’m still struck with awe in terms of how good it sounds as the band relentlessly hammers away on all keys and strings. Before the encore we’re treated to two songs from the group’s 1996-opus, “Nemesis Divina”, with Satyr announcing, “we’ll play two from ‘Nemesis’” in his native tongue. The crowd replies with a thunderous roar, and Satyr is then handed a guitar in order to open with the main riff from “Transcendental Requiem of Slaves”, which has people chant in rhythm with it. The simultaneous banging of heads by the musicians on stage ensures that the entire room joins in — even the sides.

Just before the encore, the band lines up at the front of the stage, as though they were done. Slowly, the crowd begins to chant “Sa-ty-ri-con! Sa-ty-ri-con!” and it just keeps getting louder and louder. Thus begins the intro to “The Pentagram Burns”, and just as I thought it couldn’t get more insane, I am proven wrong. Not until Satyr implores the audience to start a moshpit is there any sign of one but upon hearing his words, a big one quickly forms, which just goes to show that it isn’t because the crowd is tired — they just needed the right music. The pit continues until the quieter passage of the second song in the encore, “Fuel For Hatred”, and instantly ignites when the blastbeats are sparked to life once again. The band is still full of energy, and after a second round of the audience chanting “Sa-ty-ri-con!”, the concert ends on a very high note with “K.I.N.G”. during which every single person in the venue is rocking out. With all the turmoil that has circulated around the band these past years, it’s incredible how well the show tonight is executed, and after a good hour and a half, the band thanks the audience one last time, leaving us amid deafening applause. Even after such a lengthy show, one still longs for more, because one gets the feeling that you’ve just witnessed something especially excellent. One cannot but be amazed with how great the concert is, and both Roskilde Festival and Copenhell should be keeping their eyes open. Satyricon is back and even though they can now be referred to as black metal veterans, they still perform on a very high level.

9

Setlist:

  • 01. Midnight Serpent
  • 02. Our World, It Rumbles Tonight
  • 03. Black Crow on a Tombstone
  • 04. Deep Calleth Upon Deep
  • 05. Walker Upon the Wind
  • 06. Repined Bastard Nation
  • 07. Commando
  • 08. Now, Diabolical
  • 09. To Your Brethren in the Dark
  • 10. Blood Cracks Open the Ground
  • 11. Transcendental Requiem of Slaves
  • 12. Mother North

— Encore —

  • 13. The Pentagram Burns
  • 14. Fuel For Hatred
  • 15. K.I.N.G.

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