It’s been ten years since Satyricon last performed in Dublin, and even then this is only their second visit. One of the early Norwegian black metal bands which were often associated with anti-Christian cults and crime in the early nineties, Satyricon came to being in 1991, and have released eight albums to date; their latest release topping the Norwegian album charts. Their support act tonight is the Taiwanese band Chthonic who have succeeded in effectively combining melodic black/death metal with traditional eastern folk influences and instruments. Wearing masks and ghostpaint, they do a stellar job of warming up the audience and seem like a very humble and approachable group, offering to meet and greet the audience after the show.
A very large, elaborate and sturdy drum kit complete with demon horns and hanging cymbals is uncovered, a microphone stand shaped like a devil’s pitchfork is placed centre-stage and it’s time for the main event – who kick off their set with the instrumental ‘Voice of Shadows’ from their eponymous new release. The hardened metal aficionados in the audience show more enthusiasm for the next track ‘Hvite Krists død’ (‘White Christ’s Death’) from the 1994 album The Shadowthrone. Escalating to an early peak, ‘Now, Diabolical’ prompts eager audience participation with the crowd complementing the gritty voice of vocalist Satyr (aka Sigurd Wongraven) in the repeated chants of the song title.
Satyricon is fundamentally a two-man band; the frontman and drummer Frost (Kjetil-Vidar Haraldstad). Their four uniformly black-clad companions onstage are basically session musicians and it is obvious from the outset that Satyr is the sole spokesperson and focal point of the group. With just one microphone on the stage, nobody else will have an opportunity to get a word in. This, and that elaborate drum kit, establish the egotistical desire that Satyr and Frost be the centre of attention. Satyr arrogantly exercises his dominance by literally kicking photographers aside in order to lean into the crowd.
Influences of Slayer and the thrash metal genre are evident in some of their songs, and while there are some very infectious riffs and hooks, some of the tracks seem formulaic and a bit repetitive at times. However, as the show goes on, the fans lap up every note while pumping their fists and devil horns. After the penultimate song, ‘Fuel for Hatred’, Satyr reiterates that they would like to visit Dublin more than once every ten years, and in a very field-of-dreams manner, advertises “If you ask us, we will come”. He thanks the audience for their invitation this time around, and for their continued support. The finale of ‘K.I.N.G.’ sees the four guitarists head-banging in unison while the double bass drum thunders and moshpits erupt in the crowd. There’s time for a prolonged applause before the band take a bow and the leave the stage, for less than a decade we hope.