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'Live At The Opera'
(Napalm Records)

jools green

Jools Green


Classical influences have always sat well with black Metal, so it makes sense that these two genres combine.

And in this instance Norwegian back Metal duo Satyricon, joined by live musicians Steinar Gundersen and Gildas le Pape on guitars, Anders Odden on bass and Anders Huntstad on keyboards, have recorded a live performance with The Norwegian National Opera Chorus as part of the Ultima Oslo Contemporary Music Festival, spanning over an hour and a half in September of 2013.

The chorus were the perfect choice as they are no strangers to Metal having recorded with Ulver in 2012. The package comes as a three disc set; one DVD and two audio CD's with the concert split into two and is also available on vinyl.

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It opens dramatically on 'Voice Of Shadows' with Frost's drum kit rising up through the stage and Satyr silhouetted in shadow with stark riffing and precise drumbeats overlaid by choral voices making a powerful beginning and the long gradual build adding more drama and atmosphere by the second.

Visually, the stark contrast between the formally dressed choir and denim and leather clad members of Satyricon adds to the slightly surreal atmosphere of the event.

As the band rips into 'Now, Diabolical' the surreal atmosphere continues, a strong feeling of two worlds clearly not that unrelated, colliding and with periodic glimpses of the audience and I couldn't help wondering how they managed to just sit there? The music would certainly make me want to be more animated but there is also a huge amount to take on board so seated viewing has its advantages.

Early in, Satyr converses with the audience in both Norwegian and superbly fluent English, addressing a globally assembled crowd, welcoming them and thanking them for their support for this spectacular event.

The seated position didn't last long, as I suspected it wouldn't, with the majority of the audience getting to their feet and headbanging like crazy by the time they broke into 'Repined Bastard Nation', although for the majority of the event impressive restraint was upheld and a seated position maintained.

The performance was made all the better by a well selected set from across the Satyricon back catalogue and continued with 'Our World, It Rumbles Tonight', 'Nocturnal Flare' and 'Die By My Hand' and on 'Tro og kraft', midway through, the female vocals of the choir, add a superb depth of atmosphere to the track.

Next a surprise in the shape of 'Phoenix', written by the Norwegian rock singer Sivert Høyem (ex: Madrugada), and here Satyr switches to guitar and hands over the microphone to Sivert, whose clean, powerfully haunting vocals and strong stage presence add an interesting slant on the event; one of my favourite offerings on this live set, a moving performance that quite took me by surprise. It made the hair on the back of my neck stand on end and was not something I was expecting to hear.

That performance made following song 'Den Siste' all the more of a contrast. The Norwegian lyrics, and Satyr's brutal edged vocalisations and the superb visual performance made it another favourite with me, as was the darkly haunting 'The Infinity Of Time And Space', with Satyr completely owning the stage with his performance and the choir adding a dark haunting edge to the overall sound.

The final track is a superb rendition of 'To The Mountains' with great close-up shots of Frost moving effortlessly around the drum kit. Here the choir don't come into play until about midway through, giving more of a pure black Metal feel.

For the encore the band and choir return for three tracks no Satyricon gig would be complete without and the audience are all on their feet for these final tracks; 'The Pentagram Burns', 'Mother North' and another favourite of mine, 'K.I.N.G.' before and after which Satyr brings the whole choir to the front for a standing ovation.

As both an event and as a DVD and audio package 'Live At The Opera' is a resounding success and superb musical offering, the quality of the musicianship across the board is flawless, Satyr was his usual charismatic self and Frost's drum work is as spectacular as ever. The choir melded well without being overpowering and the production of the video managed to capture well, the live mood.

This release is an absolute must for all Satyricon fans and recommended for anyone who enjoys a black Metal event of spectacular proportions.

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