Satyricon's black-metal night at the opera

Norwegian legends work with choir on new live album
By Peter Lindblad

Satryicon - Live At The Opera 2015
It was a night to remember for Satyricon, as the black-metal visionaries fulfilled a fervent wish to perform live with the Norwegian Opera Choir in Oslo on Sept. 8, 2013.

No strangers to having worked with choirs or orchestras before, as they did on such albums as 2002's Volcano, 2008's The Age Of Nero and 2006's Now, Diabolical, Satyricon has released darkly magical visual and audio recordings of that night in a DVD and a two-CD concert album titled Live At The Opera, out via Napalm Records.

Such outings that pair armadas of classically trained musicians with rock bands are often dreadfully boring and self-indulgent affairs. Live At The Opera is the exception, as Satyricon's blackened, brooding sonic transmissions from the underworld glow and grow more urgent and fiendishly dramatic than their studio counterparts, thanks to the rising vocal hellfire spewed from the mouths of the choir.

Recently, Satyricon drummer Frost took time to do an e-mail interview with Backstage Auctions' All Access blog about the new live record and provide an update on what the group is working on in the studio.

"Currently we are busy jamming, creating and rehearsing material for two albums simultaneously; one cover album and one new studio album," said Frost. "We have put the engine in the fifth gear now!"

Read the rest of our chat with Frost below.

What made this event so special for you and Satyr? Did the night live up to your expectations?
Frost: Getting to perform black metal with a full choir at the main hall in the national Opera should be special to anyone. Never have the grand and majestic aspect of Satyricon been lifted to a higher level. We knew that the Opera show would be great, and so it became.

In looking back at that night, was there a particular moment that stood out as being really dramatic or moving in any way?
Frost: The whole show was actually full of such strong moments. I even continue finding new parts and details that thrills me when listening to the recording now; parts that I didn’t truly hear or notice at the time of performance.

Satyricon's performance with
the Norwegian Opera Choir was
a spiritual experience
How did the idea for this performance come about and was there anything that was especially difficult in trying to pull it off?
Frost: We were invited to do a one-song performance with the Opera choir at an event in early 2012, and it was the outcome of that cooperation which made us realize that we should try to stage a full show with the choir. It just sounded so awesome and potent. When we found out that the choir was interested in such an extended collaboration, too, it was basically a matter of determination, will and patience to reach the goal. Musically it wasn’t particularly difficult or demanding, most of all because the choral arrangements were so well carried out, even if it required a big effort from all parties.

As a drummer, what's it like working with a choir like that? How is it different from a normal Satyricon show?
Frost: I played the drums as if it had been an ordinary Satyricon show; we were not to do any adaptions. On a personal or spiritual level, though, one will of course not remain untouched by such circumstance.

Was it challenging in any way to choose a set list?
Frost: We picked songs that we felt would work particularly well with the choir, for instance songs with very strong emotional nerves, or songs with very transparent themes where there is lots of space for the choir to really shine. As the Opera show was also the first show on the “Satyricon” touring cycle, we obviously had to pick quite a few songs from that album, but all these songs did also sound excellent with choral arrangements.

How did the choir enhance these songs in your opinion?
Frost: Some songs or parts got more epic or grand, other parts got a stronger emotional impact, others again got a different type of drive or energy and turned into fundamentally different versions of the original. The show as a whole felt very ceremonial, which suited it well.

Satyr out front, playing guitar and
singing in front of the Norwegian
Opera Choir
What do you think of the recording of that night that's being released as Live at the Opera?
Frost: It does justice to what actually went on. Most importantly – it happens to be an actual live recording (rather than a “live” recording, which is more usual). Satyricon sounds marvelous on this recording.

To you, what songs worked especially well in this arrangement, and were there any from the Satyricon catalog that you think would work equally well but that weren't included on this night?
Frost: It all sounds fantastic in my opinion; each song in its own way. I’m sure we could potentially have included more Satyricon songs that would have worked well with choral arrangements, but we would have to draw the line somewhere, wouldn’t we?

You've worked with other choirs and orchestras on records before. What was different about collaborating with them in the studio, as opposed to a live performance?
Frost: First of all, what you achieve with a choir is fundamentally different from what you achieve with an orchestra. We have worked with a choir before, but in a much, much smaller format and only in a controlled studio environment. A live performance with a large choir, consisting of both male and female singers, taking place in the Opera house, is completely different from anything we’ve done prior to that. Where we earlier had collaborated with small groups of orchestra musicians or singers to give a certain flair to specific themes, we were now adding a whole new dimension to all the songs of a full show.

While Satyricon is still associated with black metal and your sounds retains a lot of the traits from that genre, what was it that made you want to expand your template as a band and morph into something different? Was that always the plan or did something transpire that made you want to incorporate other sounds?
Frost: Your question makes me wonder what your perception of black metal is. It might seem we’re not on the same page at all, which makes it difficult for me to give a proper answer. To me, Satyricon has deeper depths and a more dangerous vibe than any of our early works, for instance. Furthermore do I find black metal to be a very open and innovation-driven, constantly developing genre. At least we in Satyricon have always had a strong musical passion, creative drive and a conquering spirit (this probably brought us to black metal in the first place), which constantly brings us to evolve. It’s not a plan, it’s the heart of the band to operate that way. If you feel it natural not to regard Satyricon as black metal anymore, then fine by me, but I certainly don’t understand you.

Are there other orchestras or choirs you would like to work with down the road?
Frost: We haven’t gotten to think that far, really.

Check out Satyricon's Facebook page at to keep up with everything going on with the band.

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