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Friday, 15 November 2013

Another Point Of View: Satyricon (Review by our intrepid traveller Paul)

Satyricon – Limelight, Belfast

A stroke of pure good fortune found me in Belfast on the same night that Satyricon rolled into town. It would have been rude not to have popped along so after a quick change out of the suit and into something black off I went, joining a healthy queue waiting to get into Belfast’s premier rock venue. My last visit to the Limelight was at the start of the year when Orange Goblin were in town so I knew what to expect. A raised stage is probably the best thing about the venue (after the Guinness obviously) as it affords all packed inside a decent view of the bands.

Kicking off proceedings were Taiwanese metallers Cthonic. I’ve seen this lot before, at BOA last year and they do very little for me I’m afraid. Their stage get up is great, with keyboard player CJ Kao decked out in an outfit that crosses the predator with Corey Taylor’s first Slipknot outfit, lead singer and erhu player Freddy Lim providing the energy and enthusiasm, bassist Doris Yeh the eye candy and a mean rhythm section when linked with drummer and mask wearer Dani Wang. Guitarist Jessie Liu, cut shapes and certainly laid down a couple of decent solos, but much of their music just blends into a wall of noise, albeit with a definite eastern influence. The band played about eight songs, including a couple of tracks from their latest album Bu-Tik. The band were confident with Freddy Lim in particular showing excellent stage presence and engaging in some self-deprecating banter including what appeared genuine excitement that a noodle bar had been found near to the venue.  Having done some research on these guys I am loathe to be too critical of them. Freddy Lim being the Amnesty International Ambassador for Taiwan is impressive and they have obviously come from a background where much of what we take for granted is not easy for them. They gained a great reception from the Belfast audience, and a number of people afterwards were commenting on how much they enjoyed them. Energetic and hard-working they definitely are. I just don’t find them that enjoyable. 6/10

After a brief break the opening strains of Voice of Shadows cut through the air, and Satyricon were there, lined up on the stage with backs to the crowd, dry ice billowing through the air. They launched into Hvite Krist Dod from the Shadowthrone album and immediately got the place moving. Although they started out as a black metal band, and to an extent remain so, their music has massive groove to it and head were nodding around the venue as the band got into full flow. Quick audience participation followed with the title track from Now Diabolical followed by the sinister Black Crow On A Tombstone from 2009’s Age of Nero. One of my favourite Satyricon tracks. The band were incredibly tight, with Frost’s drumming unbelievable. He is possibly the most underrated drummer in metal, not to mention one of the scariest looking!  Completing the rhythm section was the other full-time member of the band Anders Odden who stayed stage left and drove the band forward. However, the undoubted main man of this band is obviously Satyr. What I hadn’t realised before was how big he is and his frame combined with an imposing style cut an impressive image at the front of the stage. Using his trident microphone stand to great effect, he engaged with the crowd, constantly urging the fist pumping and shouts. A couple of new tracks from the latest self-titled album followed, Our World It Rumbles Tonight and the sinister Nekrohaven with some superb guitar work from Steinar Gundersen ably supported by rhythm guitarist Diogo Bastos. Repined Bastard Nation from 2002’s Volcano was followed by two other newies, Tro og Kraft and The Infinity Of Time And Space which as Satyr said, is possibly the song that captures everything about Satyricon. Essence of Satyr? The ideal Christmas present? Maybe not.  I forget to mention the keyboards of Anders Hunstad, but his role cannot be understated, with his layers of synths subtle but evident in the mix. This band are something special, and as they delved into their back catalogue for the last third of their set I was feeling pretty lucky to have managed to see them on one of only three UK dates. Three tracks from Nemesis Divinia, Forhekset, To The Mountains and The Pentagram Burns highlighted the incredible drumming skills of Frost, blast beats powering out whilst Satyr continued to deliver a master class in delivery. This is a band that have been around for 20 years and it shows with the show slick and musicianship of the highest quality. A three track encore of Mother North, Fuel For Hatred and massive favourite K.I.N.G concluded the set before the band lined up on stage for a deserved ovation which lasted over ten minutes.  One of my gigs of the year. 10/10

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