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Satyricon - O2 Academy Islington, London - November 14 2013 (Live Review)

Tuesday, 19 November 2013 Written by Alec Chillingworth

Satyricon are a bit of an odd one. Too furiously visceral for mainstream rock listeners yet too 'polished' for extreme metal elitists, they've tinkered on the borders of both for the majority of their career. Following the release of their superb, self-titled eighth record earlier this year, the seldom-travelled black metal behemoths arrived to crush the Islington Academy.

Snapping at their heels were Taiwanese political ragers Chthonic. Drawing mainly from their latest offering, ‘Bú-tik’, their keyboard-laden black metal went down a treat. Coming across as a lovechild between Cradle of Filth and the Go West advert, tunes such as Supreme Pain For The Tyrant and Sail Into The Sunset's Fire were genuinely epic, even if frontman Freddy Lim’s erhu was lost in a muddy mix.

The back of the stage looked like a bondage dungeon, with drummer Dani Wang and keyboard player CJ Kao in terrifying leather masks. It's was all a tad strange, but it was certainly what the people wanted.

Unveiled like a prize at a raffle, the Satyricon drum kit cast a haunting shadow over the Academy. Adorned with various nasty spikes and horns, it looked fit for the Devil himself. Well, Frost was close enough, strolling on shirtless in all of his gratuitously moustachioed glory. The rest of the band followed, kicking straight in to the heaving grind of Hvite Krists Død.

Satyricon are a black metal band – there's no disputing it. But, numbers such as Now, Diabolical and the sprawling mass of Mother North were greeted with mass singalongs, conducted mainly by frontman Satyr. Newer tracks, like Our World, It Rumbles Tonight and the prog-tinged splendour of The Infinity Of Time And Space, were also treated like old classics rather than recent additions.

Satyr was the perfect mouthpiece throughout the gig, screaming demonically one minute before politely thanking the crowd the next. As on record, his enunciation was spot on. This might seem like a tiny thing, but the fact that every word can be understood (not just on record, but live as well) is a true testament to his skills.

Bassist Anders Odden is also worthy of note, with his evil grimacing made even more bizarre given the fact that he looks just like your uncle. Key-fingering youngblood Anders Hunstad was introduced to the crowd by Satyr, who admitted that when the band's 'Nemesis Divina' album was released in 1996, Hunstad was just a toddler.

The monumental choruses and savage riffing created mass mayhem, especially during fan-favourite Repined Bastard Nation – circle pits, circle pits everywhere! But, of course, it was the titanic rumble of K.I.N.G that closed the night, being greeted with a reaction that stank of Metallica dropping Enter Sandman. When revealing the fact that the band will be bringing their orchestral show to London in the future, Satyr couldn't have looked happier to be in the thick of it. For a black metal frontman, he’s not all that  grumpy. Good on him.


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