download 2013 poster final@ Pepsi Max Stage, June 16 2013

Satyricon might have expected to pull in a larger crowd for their headlining slot on the Pepsi Max stage, but competing with Rammstein for Download’s attention was always going to be tough.

However, if the Norwegian black metallers were disappointed with the turn-out for their Sunday gig, they didn’t let it show. And while frontman Satyr admitted the band aren’t in ‘concert mode’ at the moment (they’ve just finished recording a new album) this was still a performance to live long in the memory. 

Opening with Repined Bastard Nation, a black metal firestorm hotter than any Teutonic pyrotechnic on the main stage, the six-piece threw themselves into a set which embraced large swathes of their career. The hypnotic Hvite Krists Død, from 1994’s The Shadowthrone, was there, so too the punked up, furious Fuel For Hatred from 2002’s Volcano, and the armour plated groove of The Wolfpack, from their last opus, The Age Of Nero.

The reaction to Mother North,  meanwhile, was nothing short of rabid – not surprising, given it encapsulates everything great about black metal… and makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand on end.

Powered by inhuman sticksman Frost , whose drumming threatened to dislodge the kit  and spearheaded by the engaging Satyr, the Scandinavians showed why they’re so revered in extreme metal circles, and why it might pay for Copping and co. to give black metal a bit more space on the bill in the future.

Make no mistake, seven years on from their last Download appearance, this was a triumphant return for Satyricon.

Richard Holmes