Satyricon - The Age Of Nero
Roadrunner Records
Black Metal
8 songs (42:55)
Release year: 2008
Satyricon, Roadrunner Records
Reviewed by Goat
Major event

Here it is: the follow-up to the divisive Now, Diabolical has finally arrived; complete with barely-visible artwork. Whatever you think of Satyricon in the Black Metal days, few would deny that recently, from Volcano onwards, the band has shifted focus. Is Satyr just a colossal egomaniac, taking a band named after himself and the word ‘icon’ into commercial pastures, or does the Black spirit burn too bright for such nonsense? Well, those that turned away in wrath after Now, Diabolical would do well to get over themselves, for The Age Of Nero is both a step back and a step forwards. The easiest way to describe this album is Volcano meets N, D; the experimental moments of the former with the groovy catchiness of the latter. Both are present here; Black Crown On A Tombstone and My Skin Is Cold surpass the catchy quota and will cause as much disgust in purists as they do delight in newcomers; yet those that take a step back and are not prepared to dismiss anything from Satyricon just because it isn’t Nemesis Divina, take heed.

Surprise, surprise: opening track Commando and follow-up The Wolfpack are more complex than practically anything from Now, Diabolical. Of course, the first ‘video’ song Black Crow On A Tombstone follows fairly rigidly in K.I.N.G and The Pentagram Burns’ path; groovy riffs, Satyr’s snarls, Frost’s complex battery. Yet give the album time, and it will surprise you. Die By My Hand is more Black Metal than anything the band have done for a long time, but it’s first single My Skin Is Cold that resonates most strongly; combining old-school atmospherics and new-school catchiness to wonderful effect. Vocal lines such as ‘snow-covered mountains, I gaze in awe/wondering who and what were here before’ hit hard, dissonant riffs rising and falling whilst distant keyboard blasts and Frost’s incredible drumming drive the song onwards relentlessly.

So what else is new? Well, here it comes; Satyr is a damn good songwriter. Every track here is worth a listen for his taste and precision, his ability to put the fills and riffs exactly where they’ll have the most effect, and the songs manage to be catchy from the start, yet complex enough to keep you listening. Fine, any Black Metaller with cold blood in their veins will hate Black Crow On A Tombstone from the first listen, yet you find yourself drawn back to it again and again, and eventually you’ll realise; this is a kickass song. And once that moment is past, there’s nothing to stop The Age Of Nero weaving its web on you. Later tracks such as The Sign Of The Trident may follow in the Volcano path, but the more atmospheric path it takes contrasts well with the catchier tracks. What you have to realise if you want to enjoy the album, however, is to let it go; no, this is not a masterful slice of medieval Black Metal, but the path the band has chosen to follow, and once you’ve gotten over that, The Age Of Nero rocks pretty hard. Expecting much more from a Black Metal legend’s latest album, released on Roadrunner, seems a little silly. This is not a sellout, but the next step in a fascinating career, and whilst it may not quite be an instant classic, The Age Of Nero has more than enough depth to ensnare casual listeners as well as older, more cynical fans.

Killing Songs :
Commando. The Wolfpack, Black Crow On A Tombstone, My Skin Is Cold, The Sign Of The Trident, Den Siste
Goat quoted 84 / 100
Thomas quoted 79 / 100
Other albums by Satyricon that we have reviewed:
Satyricon - Deep Calleth Upon Deep reviewed by Goat and quoted 75 / 100
Satyricon - Satyricon reviewed by Goat and quoted 60 / 100
Satyricon - The Shadowthrone reviewed by Goat and quoted CLASSIC
Satyricon - Dark Medieval Times reviewed by James and quoted CLASSIC
Satyricon - Rebel Extravaganza reviewed by Goat and quoted 90 / 100
To see all 9 reviews click here
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