Cradle of Filth / Satyricon / Septicflesh
Saturday, February 21, 2009
Live Review & All Photos By Kyle Moore, the Metal Magnus
There’s something very metal in the humid air of Florida. Whether it’s the child-murdering mothers, ugly urban sprawl, overpriced beer, or unseasonal heat (even in winter) there’s an awful lot of metal coming out of this awful excuse for a state. Bands such as Morbid Angel, Iced Earth, and Death all have their origins here. A place called Club Firestone is apparently Orlando’s secondary metal venue (with “classier” groups like Opeth and Dragonforce commanding Disney’s House of Blues) where the really nasty bands come to play.
The club itself has an uncharacteristically small stage for its capacity, although it appears designed to accommodate weekend ravers and hip hop DJ’s as opposed to proper metal concerts. There was hardly any room for any of the bands to move, nor was there remotely sufficient lighting. On top of that, none of the management or security had a damn clue (or cared) if I was allowed to shoot photos in front of the pit barricade, so I was lazily told “you can shoot, but we can’t give you a place to do it.” So I was stuck on some stairs to see above a sea of sweaty heads with my camera zoom on too high. Ergo my photos aren’t of the best quality. Score one for apathetic venue staff.
Prior to this evening, I was wholly unaware of Greek death metal act Septic Flesh. Their sound mostly combines blasting death metal with symphonic airs. While I like bands who dare to do the unusual, something about the excessively loud pre-triggered choirs and keyboards didn’t match up to the four ugly, nondescript metal guys grinding out muddy riffs on that stage. Frontman Spiros Antoniou was the only interesting thing on the stage, with guitarists Sotiris Vayenas and Christos Antoniou doing little beyond token headnodding. On a few occasions, I noticed only their drummer playing along to a backing MIDI track while Mr. Antoniou growled away. Their set was a brief 30 minutes, mostly focusing on material from their new album COMMUNION.
When I first heard that this legendary band would be visiting Orlando, I had to run and grab a change of pants. I never thought I’d have an opportunity to witness this incredible black metal duo consisting of composer/frontman Satyr and renown uber-drummer Frost, who marked this tour as his first appearance in the USA. In the past, Satyricon has had to use touring drummers for USA shows since Frost had previously been denied a visa to the country by Homeland Security…due to an undisclosed bar fight!
Since putting on a metal show with just two band members isn’t very feasible, I wondered how many session members would back up Satyr and Frost. There were four! Satyr mostly stayed on vocals the whole evening, so two guitarists (Gildas le Pape and Steinar Gundersen,) a bassist (Victor Brandt,) and a very pretty blonde named Jonna Nikula (sometimes) playing keyboards filled in the rest. Ms. Nikula had absolutely nothing to do for 90% of the show in her cramped, nearly invisible corner of the stage besides stand in place and headbang. Satyricon’s music doesn’t use keyboards much, and I doubt anyone would have noticed their absence had Ms. Nikula not been present. I did notice Satyr walk over to her once during an instrumental section of a song and give her a little tap on the rear – both grinned slyly afterwards.
Sticking entirely to material from their three most recent albums (repeated cries for “Mother North” were sadly ignored), Satyricon played a viciously tight set focusing on their trademark black n’ roll sound. Satyr appeared as a tall, spectral figure clad in sable, hair combed back with his skeletal face contrasting his clothing. With an avant-garde pitchfork serving as an oversized mic stand, he flew energetically about the small stage to incite his audience. His counterpart was mostly hidden behind his massive drum kit throughout the show, but until that night I have never seen (or heard) a drummer play so perfectly. Usually live drummers turn their kick drums too high or have a really shoddy snare sound (Cradle of Filth had this problem for their first couple songs,) but Frost’s drumming sounded like something out of a pristine studio. Seeing this guy play was like watching a madman ripping apart a padded cell, furiously thrashing about from side to side as a blur of manic energy. I couldn’t capture a clean photo of him, no matter how many pictures I took.
At the end of their 45 minute set, Satyr announced that Satyricon will return in October to headline their own tour. Overall, they gave a very strong performance to a rabidly enthusiastic crowd, many of whom I suspect came to the show specifically to see Satyricon.
Repined Bastard Nation
Black Crow On A Tombstone
Die By My Hand
The Pentagram Burns
Fuel For Hatred
Cradle of Filth is probably one of the most polarizing metal bands currently active. A lot of metalheads really can’t stand them, whereas others adore them. I’m somewhere on the fence – when Cradle writes a good song , it absolutely slays. But their mediocre stuff is just plain awful. I haven’t paid much attention to them since 2003’s DAMNATION AND A DAY. Their two follow-up albums didn’t interest me in the least. New effort GODSPEED AND THE DEVIL’S THUNDER sparked in me a mildly renewed interest, so I decided to give Cradle the benefit of the doubt and not disparage them for their past failures.
I’ve seen Cradle live twice prior to this evening – the first time was way back in ’04, and they kicked ass. Huge, spectacular stage show, with frontman Dani Filth prancing about like a drunken loon with a string of firecrackers exploding in his rear. But I saw them again in ’06, and the whole show seemed phoned in, with a lackluster Dani, poor sound quality, and operatic backup siren Sarah Jezebel Deva seemingly singing out of key. However on this evening, with a pared-down stage show (partly due to the small stage, no doubt) and increased focus on blasting out one brutal song after the next, Cradle of Filth seemed rejuvenated.
Notably absent was Ms. Deva, who was replaced by one Rosie Smith, who also played keyboards. Ms. Smith sang admirably well in a less operatic style, though she’s not on par with Ms. Deva.
Tearing through some of their best songs throughout their long career, Cradle left few stones unturned or fans unsatisfied. Notably energetic performances of “The Principle of Evil Made Flesh,” “Cthulu Dawn,” and crowd favorite “Gilded Cunt” (because who doesn’t love repeatedly shouting the word CUNT at the top of ones lungs?) were enthusiastically received. They gave sufficient focus on their new album, while lightly touching on NYMPHETAMINE and the lackluster THORNOGRAPHY in order to play material going all the way back to their debut album.
Despite some sound problems at the start, Cradle hit their stride during “Gilded Cunt” and never looked back. Decked out in a spiky leather outfit reminiscent of the Hellraiser films, Mr. Filth was clearly in a good mood and cracked plenty of jokes during song breaks. Bassist David Pybus grimaced gleefully while the intimidatingly muscular guitarist Paul Allander thrashed about. Drummer Martin Skaroupka got off to an odd start, but this may have been because his drums weren’t very clear in the mix. His snare was almost inaudible while his bass kicks nearly drowned out the rest of the band throughout the first song.
Overall, Cradle has hit their stride again and redeemed themselves for their poor 2006 show. As long as Mr. Filth’s black heart is still in his music, he and his band put on one hell of a live show.
Shat Out of Hell
Dusk and Her Embrace
The 13th Caesar
The Principle of Evil Made Flesh
Honey and Sulphur
Under Huntress Moon
Cruelty and The Beast
Her Ghost In The Fog
From The Cradle To Enslave