Manchester Academy 3
10th Nov 2013
Norwegian Black Metal gods Satyricon kicked off a 36 date European tour last thursday in support of their recently released self-titled album and last night, Louder Than War’s Andy Santiago went to check out their sold out gig at Academy 3 in Manchester.
I’ve seen Satyricon twice previously and sadly missed them at this years Download festival due to possibly the most cruel clash of bands in festival history, so I was looking forward to this one with great anticipation.
Having mixed feelings about their latest album, I was interested to see how the new material would translate to the live environment – and it turned out I was not to be disappointed.
Myself, the Huddersfield contingent and fellow Louder Than War Heavy Metallist Dom entered the venue as support band Chthonic were about halfway through their set.
Chthonic are often referred to as a “Taiwanese Cradle of Filth” and to be fair, as lazy a description as that is, I found it quite hard to disagree. A pretty dire sound didn’t help their cause as guitars and keys were swamped by a bass and vocal heavy mix so any subtleties and flourishes were just lost. They were visually impressive with Slipknot-esque masks on some of the band and the others, well, they looked like they had raided the Cenobites wardrobe! Sound problems aside, they seemed to go down pretty well and before leaving the stage, they had the crowd throwing horns for a picture that was to be published in a Taiwanese newspaper.
As the stage was set for the night’s headliners, the sheet covering Frost’s drum kit was removed to display possibly the largest and most impressive kit I’ve ever seen at any gig. This kit was so big it seemed to take up about two thirds of the stage and it probably had it’s own solar system, such was the magnitude!
As the lights dropped and the crowd roared, Satyricon took the stage and opened with the first track off the latest album, the instrumental, Voice of Shadows. The slow-burning repeated riff gave way to an older track, Hvite Krists Død, and we were away!
Frontman Satyr could never be accused of being an introvert and throughout the gig he worked the already bang up for it crowd into higher states of frenzy, telling us that this was the real “Theatre of Dreams” in Manchester and when the call and response chorus of one of my personal Satyricon favourites, Now.. Diabolical! kicked in, the Manchester crowd did not hold back.
Another crowd pleaser, Black Crow on a Tombstone followed and it became apparent what a massive back catalogue of utterly banging classics Satyricon have up their sleeves.
And so to the new material. Live, it’s totally transformed and quite honestly sounds immense. The duo of new tracks Our Word, It Rumbles Tonight and Nekrohaven were aired and were greeted like old favourites.
A return to Volcano-era Satyricon with Possessed was next and then back to the new tracks with Nocturnal Flame and a song Satyr introduced as “The living embodiment of the new Satyricon record”, The Infinity of Time and Space.
By now the main part of the set was coming to an end and Satyr picked up a guitar and played lead on the classic To The Mountains. As the Pentagram Burns was next and the band lined up at the front of the stage, took a bow and filed off.
Throughout the set, Satyr was as engaging a frontman as you will ever see and politely applauded the audience after every track and the rest of the band had boundless energy with almost non-stop banging of heads going on.
I must mention the man who was behind the previously mentioned beast of a drum kit, the diminutive and outrageously moustachioed, Frost. I’m a massive fan of extreme metal drummers and Frost is right up there with the very best of the best. Last night when he unleashed the double kicks and blasts, you felt it hammering through every fibre in your body. How he can play with such intensity and precision whilst furiously headbanging defies all comprehension.
After a couple of minutes the band returned and tore into the classic Mother North. “Sing to me Manchester” Satyr demanded, we did, and the roof was raised.
The final encore of Fuel for Hatred and K.I.N.G were rapturously received and then once again, the band lined up and took a bow.
I’ve never seen Satyricon do a bad gig or even be slightly off form. Last night was everything a ‘metal’ gig is all about. A crowd who are there to lose their collective shit to a band playing at the very top of their game and prowess.
Satyricon should by rights be playing the ‘Enormo-Domes’ of this world and could possibly be described as ‘Stadium Black Metal’ but the few hundred packed into the Academy 3 last night saw something a bit special.
Potentially gig of the year for me? Without doubt, in the top 5.
Now, let’s see how the blood-soaked Swedes (Watain) compare next month….
All pics (apart from the one of Frost’s outrageous kit) courtesy of Mike from those sneaky bastards, DT Masters. And many thanks go to Michelle Kerr for setting this up very last minute.
Satyricon’s remaining UK dates are as follows:
- Monday 11th Nov – BELFAST Limelight
- Tuesday 12th Nov – DUBLIN Button Factory
- Thursday 14th Nov – LONDON O2 Academy Islington
All words by Andy Santiago. More writing by Andy on Louder Than War can be found at his author’s archive.