The Age Of Nero

Written by: EW on 15/01/2009 21:23:00

Satyricon's path to greatness embodies the searing spirit of Norway's early 1990's black metal legends by being exactly what the scene meant even back then: a middle-finger to anyone and everyone who tried to dictate how things should be done. While the likes of Darkthrone, Mayhem and Enslaved have forged their own unique paths, so too have Satyricon and it is with these desires that we should hold the progenitors of Scandinavian Black Metal in such high esteem.

Any follower of extreme metal will not be unaware of the divisions caused within the scene by Satyricon's increasing 'commercialism' that begun with 2002's "Volcano", an album I still love to this day. The transition to more straightforward rock song structures allied with a curving of the visceral edges that typified early-mid Satyricon has not been universally accepted but mainman Satyr's ambivalence to such reactions can only be admired. 2006's "Now, Diabolical" perhaps signalled the peak of the move to simpler, more anthemic songs but, to me, didn't quite work even after repeated listens. Live however, the likes of "K.I.N.G." crush.

"The Age Of Nero" could be said to embody elements of both its two youngest siblings. In "Die By My Hand" you have the cold essence of BM atypical of "Volcano" (and prior) and in "Commando" and "Black Crow On A Tombstone", catchy hook-laden forces of extreme metal that only the dead wouldn't nod their heads to. Not since the days of Satyricon's BM-anthem for the ages "Mother North" has speed ever been what the band are about; in drummer Frost they have the man capable of hammering intense speeds but his resolute domination of the drums even at a gentler pace on "The Age Of Nero" brings out the brilliance of some of the riffs on offer, with an absolutely superb drum sound to boot.

But really Satyricon is the Satyr show. His riffs are divergent and consuming, from the doom paced "Den Siste", the neck-snapping "Commando" to nihilistic Darkthone-tinge of "My Skin Is Cold", all demanding attention and repeat listens. The pace could be viewed as a little too pedestrian for it's own good at times where the vigour of "Commando" could've been better suited and it is for this reason that "The Age Of The Nero" loses points, but the effortless confidence exuded by Satyr (and Frost) throughout these recordings are deserving of a solid mark. Through doing their own thing and releasing another quality album in the process Satyricon's name will continue to burn brightly in the gods of the black metal hall, to the derision of many out there. Long may it continue.

Download: Commando, Black Crow On A Tombstone
For The Fans Of: Darkthrone, 1349, Dimmu Borgir
Listen: Myspace
Buy: iTunes

Release date: 03.11.08
Roadrunner Records

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