Saturday, October 24, 2009

Satyricon with Chthonic, Zircon, and Desiccation [Worcester Palladium, 10/23/2009]

I was technically on call for this show, but I took a calculated risk and went anyway. With a bill like this one, you have to skate a little and do what you have to in order to get in. I ended up getting over a little after doors, delayed by absurd traffic on the pike and the need to go back halfway to the door from the parking lot in order to throw my "discouraging iron" back in the car to avoid getting it confiscated and spending the night in the Worcester gaol rather than thrashing out to black metal. It ended up being maybe a little too late, or maybe just right, because....

Desiccation [NR]
...I ended up missing nearly all of this band's set. From what I heard, though, this was a mixed proposition. For a young band, it was weird and somewhat discouraging to hear a sound this completely foreign, and not in a good way. This isn't the case of a band bringing in a sound that you don't get in the US, like, say, Frozen's tendency to channel Evergrey or Bog of the Infidel doing early Bethlehem, but a New England band sounding like they're from Grand Rapids or L.A.. We don't generally do this style of deathcore around here (at least as I'm aware of), and in many ways I'm thankful of it. This set probably would have graded out as a 4/7 had I been in for all of it -- I missed posted doors by like 10 minutes, so maybe they had a wicked short set -- provided that it was short or varied enough not to get tiresome.

Between them and Zircon I went up to the upper deck (this was upstairs, but still a $20 ticket) and looked over the merch, picking up Chthonic's new one. Zircon didn't have anything out that I didn't have already (kind of expected, since they've just started getting active again the last couple months), and Satyricon can get paid from the fans who like their new stuff; my money was in Satyr's pocket back when Moonfog's monthly turnover was pretty much just keeping the band in guitar strings. Desiccation didn't have anything recorded, and as a dour old kuttentraeger I also have kind of a moral block on buying anything from a band that makes livestrong-style wristbands, especially before they make a record.

Zircon [6/7]
"It's great to be back!" Scott bellows at the conclusion of "Soul Absorbing Underwearworld". "Aren't you guys from here?" yells back some jerk at the bar. The displacement intended, of course, is temporal, not spatial; Zircon is back together, and playing at a definitely higher level thanks to the members' various loan spells (Scott with Vital Remains, Anthony (back in now, obviously) with Belphegor). This was a battering clinic in top-class black/death metal that took not a single step back from the touring bands, and got cut rather criminally short by the venue ops. Some might suggest that the band before them could have been cut to provide for more; I'd rather that no band had gotten jobbed, and Satyricon's techs had more of a fire under their asses to get the band set up rather than letting practically all of Rammstein's Herzleid play between the last two bands. Whatever the proposed solution path, the intended outcome is the same: more Zircon definitely, more Chthonic maybe, and definitely more black metal.

Chthonic [6/7]
This set had more raw energy than the last time I saw them, which Freddy also commented on; with neither the odd fit of Ozzfest nor the fence and draconian security of Mark's, this was their most metal gig in the Boston area. The sound was a little messed up at various points in their set, but the music was also at a high level, with more Sigh influences in their new stuff than Cradle, despite the ill omen of the new, more readable logo. A lot more than the last time, though, was tracked or synthed rather than played live on real instruments; some of this may be having the capability to backtrack stuff live that's also tracked on record, but I'm pretty sure that they cut their full-time live fiddler, with Freddy only pulling out the Chinese fiddle at the end of one song. This is a shame; the band probably sees it as getting beyond any gimmicks and being acknowledged as a black metal band in their own right, but everyone who matters understood them as a self-sufficient black metal band already, but one with unique instrumentation contributing to a unique sound. Chthonic without Chinese fiddle is like Negura Bunget without flutes or Sear Bliss without their brass section; still good music from good musicians, but without that signal element that shows the band are thinking differently about this music from Joe Norsecore.

Alternately, the more concrete explanation is that they left the live fiddler home because they weren't getting as much tour support, and having to fly literally around the world to do three weeks in the US and a week in the UK. Flights to and from Taiwan are fucking expensive, and if you can cut your tour expenses by 16% and still have 90% of your sound, that's an attractive proposition. There's only five members credited on the new record, though, so it may just be Freddy not wanting to be tied to the mic stand all night.

As mentioned above, we waited for what felt like the better part of an hour here in between for Satyricon's people to get all the band's shit together, listening to Rammstein's first record. DO NOT WANT. PLAY BLACK METAL.

Satyricon [5.5/7]
Speaking of..... A good set, as long as you expect going in that Satyricon now is a black'n'roll band rather than a black metal band, and apart from Frost -- whose assault charge must have aged off the books, as he was behind the skins, doing the world's most impressive blastbeat clinic as expected -- not as good at it as Vried is. They're still capable of playing black metal, and the few bits of Rebel Extravaganza and Nemesis Divina that made it through the filter were amazing, but they choose not to, for reasons that (if the purely mercenary is discounted) are absolutely inexplicable. Technically, Satyricon is still Satyricon, but the Satyricon that people wall-of-death and pogo to, the Satyricon that has pileups and crowdsurfers, is not the Satyricon that I drove down for. Still infected with the ideas I drank in a decade ago, I want the history of this band's early catalog to mean something. I'll take what I can get from this set, since any rational person can look at their works this century and know that they're not going to suddenly about-face and suddenly crack out "The Dark Castle In The Deep Forest" on a random US gig, but a "real" Satyricon set, playing nothing recorded after 1997, would be worth crossing oceans for. This set wasn't, but it was worth the price of entry and the drive to Worcester.

Before both the first ("K.I.N.G." and "Fuel For Hatred") and second (said song) encores, we were treated to a singluar occurrence: the venue chanting not for the band, but for a specific song. Yes, "Sa-tyr-i-con!" (or is it "Sa-tyr-icon!" -- half the problem right there) has no rhythm to it, but you'd think that the band would get, on hearing "MO-THER NORTH!" from a hundred hoarse hesher throats, that even the US audience, even the short-haired guys in Killswitch shirts, considers their early material far superior to their current ouevre. We got "Mother North", and it was as good as expected, but that just indicts the rest of the set all the more -- and the band, that they didn't follow it up with "Forhekshet", or indeed play that song at all, despite it being about the only good mosh song in the first half of their catalog. Seriously, guys, if you don't like the old stuff any more, reform under a different name and declare that chapter closed except when you do "reunion" sets with Darkthrone interludes. I'd still show up in the vain hope of hearing "Black Lava" in a set of new material.

Thus closes this chapter; next show is undecided due to the on-call stand, but is probably going to turn out to be the pre-Halloween Metal Thursday; Fires Of Old, Witch Tomb, and Darkwor, heading into Samhain? If you're in New England, not there, and without a good reason, Ryan will have more than cause to pull your werewolfing credentials.

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