"Satyricon - Down South, Up North"
Interview with Frost by Bruce McKinlay
Hailing from Norway, Satyricon are one of the elite black metal bands of the 1990's, and when you hear the new album, "Rebel Extravaganza", you'll realise why. Since having formed in 1992, Satyricon have released four full-length albums and a handful of EP's. Their fan base has slowly grown, as has their talent.
The title "Rebel Extravaganza" is an odd name for a brutal metal album, as was the last full length "Nemesis Divina". Original and founding member Frost explains:
It was the title that we just got dumped into our head, and that I guess was the same situation of the other album title as well. We knew that "Rebel Extravaganza" would be the title of the album and it felt right, very right, summing up Satyricon, the band, and all the music of the album. You could say that the "rebel" word is referring to the controversy of the band. We are a controversial band in general. The "extravaganza" is something very prominent and I think is more prominent in the new album than "Nemesis Divina".
Prominent and rebellious sum up the band in a nut shell. Satyricon have made a big impact on the metal scene and have influenced many bands out there, and some still to come. Some have labelled Satyricon as black metal icons, something Frost addresses.
Nowadays I feel we deserve a little attention because we have come out with a very strong contribution to black metal and a strong contribution to the audience, and I can tell you that I'm sure there is a lot of clarity behind this album, and a mound of hard work. We have been working extremely hard with this material, getting it as elite as possible, and also working hard with the production, and with the pictures, layout and image. I feel that we deserve to get acknowledged for that. As far as being referred to as icons, or whatever, we don't think for others to judge upon us.
Frost and long time partner Satyr couldn't have made this album alone. They called upon the assistance of superstars Snorre (Thorns), Fenriz (Darkthrone), trance artists Ra, and a Norwegian actress/singer Trine Svenson to forge the new album. Norway is still a hotbed for black metal artists. Frost explains.
The black metal environment in Norway is so very creative, with such skillful musicians, and to that matter we are ahead of the rest of the world. It should be a bit hard to find the explanation to that, but I guess there are several. You know, it all started with a growing environment beginning in the early 1990's, stemming from the healthy environment that was growing up back then. It also could have something to do with nature and the climate. It could also partly be coincidence you know.
It's not coincidental that Satyricon have achieved super-stardom by releasing an extreme, yet commercially capable, album without having to sell out or turn their backs on original ideas. Hooking up with Nuclear Blast last year will finally allow the band to release CD's domestically here, and in Europe, while Moonfog (Satyr's label), will distribute "Rebel Extravaganza" in the Scandinavian countries. Frost explains:
The point is, we ourselves own the master tape, and we are kind of licensing it to Nuclear Blast.
With distribution by one of the premier metal labels it shouldn't be long before Satyricon commence on a live tour, hopefully coming to a city near you.
We haven't done any tours for a good while. We have done some festivals and things of that nature. The tour will start in January (of the year 2000), the 7th of January to be exact, and we are hoping to get to the States finally.
When touring, Frost says Satyricon like to be as violent as possible, and if the arena is big enough, use light shows and pyrotechnics to enhance their performance. When on tour, the opening acts are of big importance to the band, as is the selection process.
We have some hot names, you can say, but we haven't decided upon who yet. There is a lot of things to take into consideration when you choose the bands to tour with. They have to have a new album out. They have to have something new to present to the audience, stuff like that. We have to like the music; it should compliment ourselves.
Some fans may turn away from the new Satyricon, feeling their new sound is too modern, or Voivod-ian. Others may feel they sold-out by including female vocals on the track "The Scorn Torrent". It's their loss as Satyricon continues to evolve, never stepping too far from their black metal heritage, album-to-album. What does Frost think?
The thing about Satyricon is we are not drawing the lines of our future. We like having our music open so that we will choose appropriately for each album, and change accordingly. We, ourselves change, just like our taste also changes, so I don't even know what Satyricon will sound like in two-years from now.
The future certainly looks bright for this two-piece. No one knows what the next Satyricon opus will sound like, or even when it will come out. Frost speaks on the lengthy wait between their latest CD and it's predecessor, "Nemesis Divina" (we're not counting the EP "Intermezzo").
There were different reasons for that. Most important, I would say, was we have been working very, very hard for the last year or so, and we have been very selective. I would guess we had material for two full-length albums, but we were throwing away a lot of good material because it didn't fit the songs we had, or the lines we had been drawing for the album. We had a lot more melodic parts that were actually very good, but they didn't fit with the "extravaganza" of the album. So then, of course, being that selective it has taken a long time to get it all right. Then there is also the practical problem in preparing for our situation of time, being like I've been in jail for a little while, so we were without rehearsal space for over a year. Also line-up changes and so on.
When asked about his jail time, Frost, the jailbird, diplomatically had this to say:
Nothing to talk about.
Well, "Rebel Extravaganza" is something to talk about. It's a real treat when a good black metal band puts out a good black metal album. Do yourself a favour and go see Satyricon if they tour near you. Judging by what Frost says, you won't be disappointed you did.
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