Satyri­con play a spe­cial, el­e­vated show­case in their Oslo home­town, plus life Of Agony, Shin­ing (Nor) and While She Sleeps in a church.


Metal Hammer (UK) - - Contests - JONATHAN SELZER

Satyr Won­graven’s black metal mis­sion reaches a new sum­mit

If you’re a

first-time visi­tor to oslo, it can be a lit­tle dis­ap­point­ing to dis­cover that the city isn’t ac­tu­ally awash with scowl­ing met­al­heads, and that even the black metal em­po­ri­ums such as the Ne­se­blod record store – on the site of the leg­endary hel­vete shop – is more likely to be pop­u­lated with tourists. this Fri­day, how­ever, if they’re not ex­actly out in force, there’s a no­table uptick of dyed-in-the-goat-wool metal fans dis­persed amongst the city cen­tre, sit­ting in bars, clutch­ing bags of vinyl, bid­ing their time, wait­ing for Satyri­con to show up down­town.

De­spite hav­ing cut their own, pur­pose­ful path far beyond the clutches of the un­der­ground – to the con­ster­na­tion of some – Satyri­con are clearly still a big deal in their home­town and a source of lo­cal pride. to­day is the launch of 11th al­bum Deep Cal­leth Upon Deep and the band are cel­e­brat­ing by play­ing it in full to a small, for­tune-blessed au­di­ence, on the roof of a build­ing, pre­ceded by a sign­ing ses­sion for all-com­ers. rare and old vinyl is of­fered to a sur­prised Satyr Won­graven and drum­mer Frost, sug­gest­ing that for a band who have trav­elled so far mu­si­cally in the two decades-plus from their Dark Me­dieval Times de­but al­bum, and for all the fresh blood they’ve ral­lied to their cause in re­cent years, they’ve in­spired a deep level of loy­alty amongst the thor­ough­bred fans.

the gig it­self isn’t in some ar­cane part of the city steeped in black metal lore; it’s in a busi­ness district in one of the posher parts of town. cross a bridge from the city cen­tre over the train tracks and you’ll be faced with an im­pos­ing, ul­tra-mod­ern ar­ray of of­fice build­ings, each try­ing to outdo the other in an­gu­lar and ir­reg­u­larly mod­u­lar, brash ec­cen­tric­ity. Past them and fac­ing the water­front is the Bar­code Project, an up­scale stretch of bars and shops and of­fices, where beer prices are so high you’re likely to get ver­tigo be­fore you get drunk. ranged out­side is an in­con­gru­ous-look­ing queue of ex­pec­tant fans, wait­ing to be of­fered plas­tic pon­chos, ush­ered up into lifts and be told that no drinks are al­lowed, and if you go to the loo mid-set, there’s no guar­an­tee you’ll be let back out for the rest of the gig.

Fac­ing out over the bay, and flanked by of­fice blocks (with a few cu­ri­ous late work­ers look­ing down from an over­look­ing win­dow), this might not seem like the most suit­able spot for a black metal band, but in Satyri­con’s case, it kind of fits. ever since 1999’s Rebel Ex­trav­a­ganza, Satyri­con’s mu­sic has been a process of dis­ci­pline and dis­til­la­tion, stream­lin­ing black metal’s wil­ful mo­men­tum into a clin­i­cal, ur­ban stomp – a smelt­ing down of tra­di­tion and forging some­thing gleam­ing and po­tent from its ore. That Deep Cal­leth Upon Deep is the first al­bum to be re­leased since Satyr’s di­ag­no­sis of a thank­fully be­nign brain tu­mour sug­gests ex­tra forces of will have been sum­moned in its mak­ing.

as a sharp rain starts to hone in on the crowd, the band ap­pear one by one to ec­static, ex­pec­tant cheers, Satyr him­self ar­riv­ing last and corpse­painted in keep­ing with the ed­vard munch-drawn fig­ure on the al­bum’s cover, lack­ing only the Yorick-like skull to com­plete the ef­fect. the minute the stri­dent, steel-drilling riff of Mid­night Ser­pent erupts, the en­tire crowd be­comes uni­fied in sub­mis­sion, Satyr him­self cran­ing his gaze over his podium and the crowd as if in­spect­ing re­cently con­quered ter­rain. If it feels like Satyri­con have re­turned to fa­mil­iar ground af­ter the curve­ball of their last, self-ti­tled al­bum, the sen­sa­tion is still im­me­di­ate and rev­e­la­tory. It’s not in Satyr’s na­ture to look back or rely on past glo­ries, though, and wo­ven around their tung­sten­moulded chas­sis th­ese new tracks re­veal a new range of dy­namic de­tours and rhyth­mic shifts as stur­dily mod­ernistic yet de­viantly re­con­structed as the build­ings nearby. Mid­night Ser­pent shifts tempo around Satyr’s clot­ted croak and brew­ing storm of riffs, Blood Cracks Open The Ground’s pro­gres­sive ru­mi­na­tions morph as if search­ing for its op­ti­mum groove, and the de­ter­mined pil­grim­age of To Your Bretheren In The Dark takes on an emo­tional scope that casts the band in fresh new lights. the lu­mi­nous, rolling rhythm that rises out of Deep Cal­leth Upon Deep’s grind­ing riffs is an­other un­for­get­table high­light that’s go­ing to burn it­self into the band’s canon, given added breadth by håkon Korn­stad’s op­er­atic vo­cal ac­com­pa­ni­ment.

Satyri­con’s magic re­lies on pre­ci­sion, and the en­tire band aren’t just on point through­out; they look as deliri­ously welded to their bat­tle­ment-pum­melling, ef­fort­lessly re­cal­i­brat­ing groove as we are. Black Wings And With­er­ing Gloom takes black metal’s frost­bit­ten hunt­ing grounds as a start­ing point and then twists them into tow­er­ing new forms, and as Burial Rite’s ever-shift­ing cen­tre of grav­ity has an en­tire rooftop pre­cip­i­tously los­ing their shit at the band’s com­mand, it’s clear that Satyri­con’s res­o­lute drive is tak­ing them into an ex­hil­a­rat­ing new era. the en­cores – the an­themic Mother North and the caul­dron-stir­ring in­can­ta­tion of K.I.N.G – may be pre­dictable, but they’re a po­tent arse­nal.

“there were times when I thought, ‘this is my city’,” says Satyr at a press con­fer­ence – a launch for a new cham­pagne to join his Won­graven wine sta­ble – af­ter the show. “there were mo­ments when I could see the hills and islands in the dis­tance and that made me think, ‘We’re home.’” It’s an el­e­vated van­tage point Saytr has cho­sen, and tonight it feels en­tirely fit­ting.


Satyr Won­graven puts his trust in thrust Satyr icon u power of are in Frost and Satyr mood Mid­night Ser­pent Open The Blood Cracks Ground In The To Your Brethren Dark Deep Cal­leth Upon Deep Ghost of Rome The Dis­so­nant And Black...

Satyr blazes a mor­bid trail Black metal board meet­ings are an un­ruly af­fair

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