The last time I was at The Barfly’s basement venue, it was hot. Real hot. Today, my phone was telling me it was 3° in Birmingham. My phone was lying to me. It was way colder… Let’s hope that the bands can warm me up tonight.
First up were the leather clad demons of Zonaria. There’s only one word to describe these guys from UmeÃ¥ in Sweden: brutal. A sonic assault to my aging ears, their short set of melodic death metal was relentless from start to end, and thanks to the typical “support slot sound” at The Barfly, sounded really muddy yet tinny at the same time. The first thing that struck me about Zonaria was how bad their costumes looked – their “made by mum” leather chest plates and shoulder pads making them look like a bunch of tweenage role players trick-or-treating for the first time without parental guidance.
Next up were the self-confessing “Masters Of Grind”, The Berzerker, hailing from Melbourne, Australia and playing a kind of music that I’ve never heard before. I’m not saying that I’ve heard every kind of metal that there is out there, but I’ve heard my fair share, and this simply wasn’t included. I can only describe them as Ministry on Speed, who have then decided to take some Crystal Meth, because life simply wasn’t quick enough for them! Industrial death metal would describe their sound – Industrial mainly due to the greatly distorted sounds coming from Todd Hansen’s drums, and death metal due to the guttural vocals emanating from vocalist Luke Kenny, and the speed that the band are playing. I’m not exaggerating when I claim that at times, they must have been playing at around 200 BPM. The crowd is beginning to pick up for their slot, but there are still a lot of unhappy punters sulking and swearing around the edges of the venue.
Next up, Evile. What? Oh… Evile are missing from tonight’s bill, due to the fact that lead guitarist Ol Drake broke his jaw after collapsing due to a mystery illness last week. Get well soon, and please come back to Birmingham! I felt sorry for the guy in the Evile hoody…
That leaves us with tonight’s headliners Satyricon, hailing from Oslo, Norway. The venue takes on a darker atmosphere just before the band walk on, with the lights dimming, the smoke machine kicking in, and the crowd pulling away from the sides of the room to get a good spot for tonight’s action. The band arrive one-by-one on stage to cheers and applause from the punters. Thank god that they all seem happy now. And they should, as once the band start their set, it’s easily noticeable that the sound is so much better than it was for their support acts.
The band, who record as a two piece – Satyr on guitar, bass, keyboards and vocals and Frost on drums – are joined by Steinar Gundersen and Gildas Le Pape on guitar, Jonna Nikula on keyboards and Victor Brandt on bass and play a brand of black metal that concentrates on riffs, sounding like a Nordic Black Sabbath at times. This isn’t lost on them, as Satyr greets the crowd with “Hello the birthplace of Black Sabbath”
This is the first of only three dates in the UK supporting their latest album “The Age Of Nero”, and the setlist draws heavily on this new release, although it’s the older tracks that get the crowd really throwing their horns in the air, recognizing these tracks from the first couple of chords.
The only things that lets the band down tonight are the technical difficulties – the volume of the guitars at one point blasting out the rest of the band, and Satyr’s wireless mic cutting out midway through the set – and the length of the encore break. After the main set and first encore, there was a gap of about five minutes where no-one knew whether they were going to come back on or not. People were leaving, and I don’t blame them, as I was about to, when they finally came back on to play final track K.I.N.G., which was shorter than the amount of time that they were off stage!
A good solid night of black and death metal came to a close, and I was still cold. Maybe if tonight’s show had been sold out would that have changed things…
Angstridden (taken from Volcano)
The Wolfpack (taken from The Age Of Nero)
Now, Diabolical (taken from Now, Diabolical)
Havoc Vulture (taken from Rebel Extravaganza)
Black Crow on a Tombstone (taken from The Age Of Nero)
Forhekset (Bewitched) (taken from Nemesis Divina)
My Skin Is Cold (taken from The Age Of Nero)
That Darkness Shall Be Eternal (taken from Now, Diabolical) / Repined Bastard Nation (taken from Volcano)
Commando (taken from The Age Of Nero)
Die By My Hand (taken from The Age Of Nero)
The Pentagram Burns (taken from Now, Diabolical)
Fuel for Hatred (taken from Volcano)
Mother North (taken from Nemesis Divina)
K.I.N.G. (taken from Now, Diabolical)
Review – Tony Hackett
Photos – Steve Gerrard