Satyricon – Live at the Opera (Napalm)Tuesday, 9th June 2015
The “rocked-out” version of Satyricon can’t please anyone these days. Reaction to the band’s 2013 self-titled album was lukewarm at best, with many deriding the simplistic, almost dumbed-down riffs that were in stark contrast to the icy, off-to-the-races glory found on Nemesis Divina. Clearly, Satyricon are no longer the same band they were in the 90s, which is perfectly fine, but somewhere along the way, they’re going to have to find a happy medium. Their Live at the Opera set hardly solves such a conundrum.
Recorded on September 8, 2013, with Norwegian Opera Choir in Oslo, Live at the Opera is the proverbial career-spanning set of songs accompanied by, as suggested, an opera. With extra orchestration and operas having now been part-and-parcel with black metal, there’s little the opera can add to the band’s songs. Therefore, Live at the Opera feels like just another live album, but with some extra voices thrown into the mix. Of course, it helps that a handful of these tunes are really good to begin with; “Now, Diabolical,” “Our World, It Rumbles Tonight,” and the excellent “Phoenix,” where upon popular Norwegian vocalist Sivert Høyem guests.
Certain songs are given an extra lift thanks to advanced participation from the opera (“Den Siste” being one of them) and proverbial barn-burner “Mother North” is every bit as adventurous and cinematic as one would imagine from one of black metal’s best songs ever. Beyond that, Live at the Opera comes across as a fun, one-time thing to get out of main dude Satyr’s system. While it won’t move the needle on the current perception of the band, Live at the Opera on at least some level, shows that Satyricon still has the goods in the live arena, current approach, or not.