On the night chosen for the Italian Armageddon, Saturday April 18th, it actually seems that the weather has taken a step back to full winter, with barely 5°C outside the Deposito Giordani, chilling drizzle and harsh wind. Which provides a much more appropriate atmosphere for the set of these Norwegian kings, notwithstanding the early-going spectators (me amongst them) guarding the gates for the entrance and freezing (almost) to death.
The peculiarity of this tour, as we had anticipated through the pages of Unholy Black Metal, is that Satyricon have chosen to perform alternative arrangements of their songs, sometimes jamming with external musicians, in order to bring something new to the tracks and also establishing a different and more direct relationship with the fans during the performance. Plus, while releasing Satyricon: Live at The Opera with their impressive performance with the Norwegian National Opera Chorus, they have announced that in the future they will tour less, maybe – it’s just a theory– to concentrate on further evolutions of their sound.
In the meantime, keen on highlighting the new talents coming from Norway, they have brought Oslo Faenskap and Vredehammer with them. The former are the kind of band you either love or hate to death, their metalcore-fashionist approach is not exactly what the typical Satyricon kind of crowd usually goes looking for. Undeniably entertaining, although one might discuss the intrinsic value of the songs and flamboyant onstage appearance. Vredehammer sound more experienced and classic-oriented, and manage a fair performance in spite of some technical issues. But it is clear that the growing wait is all for Satyr, Frost&Co.
The scenery is pleasantly sober, dominated by Frost’s imperious drum set and Satyr’s unmistakable horned microphone stand. In a climate that is heating increasingly by the minute, “Voice of Shadows”, along with the subsequent ovation, introduces the band onstage, soon followed by “The Rite of Our Cross” and “Our World, It Rumbles Tonight”, in a steady succession.
For whoever has been lucky enough to see them live, there’s no need to describe what champions Satyricon can be onstage: flawless sound, devastating energy, perfect control of the scene. But in this first part of the show we still have the feeling of a very “technical” band, studying the situation and the audience before fully launching into madness. This happens when “Now, Diabolical” kicks in, the first of the anthems showcased tonight, and that’s where the magic happens. The perfect feeling and balance between the musicians is now tangible. Satyr is a rather impressive figure, either from the physical and charismatic point of view, and he’s clearly in his element now. Frost beats like a demon on his drums, whipping his jet-black mane in an insane dance for the whole gig. Diogo Bastos at guitar, Neddo Odden with his churning bass and Anders Hunstad behind the keyboards also gather attention. The hall literally explodes for the pounding “Black Crow on a Tombstone” and by the time the fierce “Filthgrinder” starts everyone is headbanging maniacally enough. Satyr is getting more and more into the game, he literally keeps the crowd in his hands. “This is Armageddon!!!” he bellows, and it’s time for “The Dawn of a New Age” in all its masterful ferocity.
Unforgettable past and fiery present and future alternate in the setlist and also Satyr enriches his performance with his own guitar playing for a classic such as “Walk the Path of Sorrow”. A further trio of gems from the past follows with “Die by My Hand”, “The Pentagram Burns” and “The Wolfpack”, received by the crowd as a black blessing.
A jam session performed with the triple guitar again gives us a taste of a different Satyricon, the kind more oriented to black’n’roll that we’ve heard in the recent years. But the evening is moving towards its climax, the glory, the legend, the peak. As Satyr himself reminds to the audience, it was the Italian crowds that first started singing along to “Mother North” 15 years ago, and so it be once again: Satyricon’s anthem and manifest thunders upon us as the ultimate, perfect homage the musicians tribute us to show their gratitude. The encore couldn’t be better, featuring heart-racing performances of “Fuel for Hatred” and “K.I.N.G”.
Considering that we are still early into 2015, this show is already a serious candidate for a hypothetic “gig of the year” title, and that’s great. Capable of evolving brilliantly on a path that, whilst faithful to black metal tradition, also digs alternative and always varied concepts and references, Satyricon prove once more to be a rock-solid entity, true to the core and sincere in seeking a deep connection with their fans. They show it through a heartfelt performance, but also offstage. In fact, taking by siege the tour bus, unexpectedly we have the pleasure and honor to meet Satyr and Frost and exchange a few words with them. Maybe just a couple of minutes and it’s almost 3 o’clock in the night, but who gives a damn? It’s always nice to know that someone at that level even cares to tell you “Hey, thanks for support, thanks for coming to the gig”. It only adds to the magic and thrill of a sensational evening.
01. Voice of Shadows
02. The Rite of Our Cross
03. Our World, It Rumbles Tonight
04. Now, Diabolical
05. Black Crow on a Tombstone
07. The Dawn of a New Age
08. Ageless Northern Spirit
09. Walk the Path of Sorrow
10. A New Enemy
11. Die by My Hand
12. Tro og kraft
13. The Pentagram Burns
14. The Wolfpack
16. With Ravenous Hunger
17. Mother North
18. Fuel for Hatred
Satyr: vocals, guitar
Steinar “Azarak” Gundersen: guitar
Diogo Bastos: guitar
Neddo Odden: bass
Anders Hunstad: keyboards
Text and photo by Arianna