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SATYRICON with Deadspace
Max Watts Melbourne
Thursday 6 September, 2018
What does true Norwegian black metal have to offer the world in 2018? The question rattles around my half-soused yet unflinchingly P.C. head as I enter Max Watts tonight.
This is, after all, a sub-genre that gained worldwide infamy on the back of the puerile, destructive impulses of young men that you could comfortably assume were assholes. Sure, Burzum might be out of the question, but can we still love Transilvanian Hunger what with Varg’s co-writing credits? More significantly, when we’re collectively deciding to hold the art accountable for the artists’ actions, where does nihilistic, anti-social music belong when we should be celebrating diversity and empowering one another?
These questions persist as Perth symphonic black metal outfit Deadspace delve into their set and try and bring some atmosphere to their position as the tour’s main support and opening band. Between debuting new material from a forthcoming record and working through cuts from their The Promise of Oblivion album, Deadspace have enough material to keep the crowd entertained for much longer than their slot allows.
Then, after a couple more trips to the bar, Satyricon frontman Satyr takes centre place looking like a hybrid of Bela Lugosi and Till Lindemann–someone that unnerves you because their hair never moves and scares you because they would severely beat you in a fight. With his biker jacket open to reveal a hefty inverted crucifix, he looks the proper badass that’s ready to command the crowd into war.
And that’s exactly what Satyricon are here to do tonight. In spite of their extensive back catalogue of necro gems that hark back to the gory, glory days of Norwegian black metal, the band–mainstays Satyr and drummer Frost with accompaniment from two guitarists, bassist and sampler/keyboard player–are here to play some post-2008 battle rock.
Under the insistent pummelling of Frost’s double-kicks and carefully layered guitars, their sound has a heft and immediacy that would leave most stadium rock bands envious. When other Norwegian black metal acts continue to tour Australia and talk about misanthropy when they’ve got social media pages and 50-dollar t-shirts for sale at the back of the room, Satyricon sound like a breath of fresh air.
This is an outfit that has added shades of nuance and built on their records’ evocative dynamics as time goes on. Watching them hit post-Diabolical bombastic black ‘n’ roll cuts like Black Crow on a Tombstone and The Wolfpack, is as powerful as when they mine their extensive back catalogue for frostbitten gems like Mother North and Walk the Path of Sorrow.
Twelve years ago, when Satyricon first toured Australia on the back of Now, Diabolical, I remember lamenting the fact that Satyr and Frost–two of the last kvlt Mohicans—were beginning to sell out. After seeing them tonight, I feel like they represent something of an ideal turn for the genre. The calibre of their latter-day music has allowed them to fully shed the confines of being a true black metal band. Is that a bummer? Well, they can still have a room heaving in a shared catharsis without paying homage to a genre’s lore when said lore shouldn’t be as mythologised as it is. So that’s pretty rad. I guess we should all just hail Satan forever for their continued existence.
Catch Satyricon with Deadspace at the remaining dates:
Friday 7 September // Metro Theatre // Sydney
Saturday 8 September // The Basement // Canberra
Sunday 9 September // The Triffid // Brisbane