DATE: Tuesday 3rd September 2019
VENUE: The Chameleon in Nottingham, UK
Review & Photography by Mark Holmes
With doors advertised at 7pm tonight, my evening started significantly earlier than planned. Much earlier, in fact. Walking through Nottingham city centre just after 3pm, I encounter Angelika and Seth from Satarial, who are both trying to locate the venue. After introductions, I offer to assist and, for a venue that’s been described as “Nottingham’s best kept secret”, I begin to understand why. Enquiring within three different shops in the vicinity, no one seems to have even heard of The Chameleon, let alone know where it is. Asking in a nearby pub eventually proves fruitful as a guy directs us towards a narrow alleyway by the side of a greetings card shop. With the venue doors locked, I ring the owner who informs me that he’ll not be arriving until 4:30pm, so I wait with the band by their van, which they’ve parked around the corner. And it's not long before an obstinate traffic warden, without any small degree of empathy, slaps a £70 parking fine on their vehicle, with zero interest in wanting to hear any kind of context, despite my best efforts to explain the situation. Crazy! Just before 4:30pm, the venue owner turns up, at which point I switch roles to impromptu roadie, by helping carry all their gear up two flights of stairs. So many stairs! Roadie duties performed, I leave the band to it and return to the venue later, for the show itself…
The Chameleon, I have to say, is a fantastic venue. A long bar on the first floor with a gig room above it, there’s a great atmosphere about the place. And the gig room tonight has been transformed into Satarial’s coven, with a very different kind of atmosphere. An atmosphere that feels as darkly menacing and foreboding as it does welcoming and embracing. Sinister, yet simultaneously seductive. The scene is set, and there’s something of a casual start to proceedings as Satarial commence with Seth letting some distorted chords resonate with dissonant menace, while Angelika is crouched over an array of candles, incense sticks and other occult related paraphernalia. Candles and incense are lit and she dances seductively with ritualistic grace in front of the gathering, before taking position behind her drum kit. It works as an invite into the band’s enigmatic world, and I cannot recall the last show I attended where such a potently dark, mystical and bewitching atmosphere was created as it has been here.
Very few bands offer the multi-sensory experience of a Satarial show. Mantras, esoteric spells, incantations and ritualistic acts are presented to those gathered within the Chameleon. With a variety of different incenses burning throughout the night, blasts of smoke are illuminated by blue, red and green lighting. Shamanic and paganistic rituals unfold before the audience’s eyes; an audience who are encouraged to feel at one with Satarial’s presence. It could, of course, be interpreted as theatrical, but this is more than that. Much more. This feels ceremonial, where the reciprocity between band and audience engenders a transcendent energy within the room. Lolita, the band’s horn player, dancer and mistress of all kinds of ritualistic manoeuvres, is a fundamental presence to proceedings. At different points in the evening, she wears masks (metaphorical and literal) as well as a crown of lit candles, and even ventures into the audience to encourage people to drink wine from a half skull.
So, the music? Fantastic! Kudos to the house engineer for attaining a fantastic sound and perfectly balanced mix through the PA. Everything sounds utterly perfect. There are influences to be heard within Satarial’s songs, for sure - some black metal and folk idioms being the most prominent - but everything’s been weaved and crafted into densely heavy waves of their own self-styled musical identity. Seth growls, grunts and chants with sincere conviction, as he effortlessly plays passages of intriguing dissonance and mesmerising consonance on his guitar. And Angelika’s drumming provides a hard-hitting, incisive and solid backbone to the tracks, with some seriously great double kick drum and blast beats; as well as her enticingly charming clean vocals. Material new and old is performed but, with the combined affects of the music and the show itself, it’s almost as if the songs are a soundtrack to something far more emotionally transcendent than the music alone. This is a powerfully affecting experience. This is Satarial. A truly unforgettable night. And then I switch back to helpful mode and lapse into my role as ephemeral roadie, by assisting the band carry all their gear back down all those seemingly endless number of stairs over the course of an hour. As the clock hits 1am, at witching hour, if you will, I bid Satarial farewell and retreat into the night, more than ready for some well earned sleep.
Click on thumbnails for larger images:
Satarial at The Chameleon in Nottingham, UK, 3rd September 2019
Photograph copyright © 2019 Mark Holmes - www.metal-discovery.com