Review Summary: It’s quintessentially “Now, Diabolical” through and through. But worse
A group of fans called black metal purists are people who Satyricon really like to piss off. This two-some from Norway have created some of black metal’s most lauded and loathed black metal over their xx years of existence, but “The Age of Nero” really highlights the problems that have been nipping at the bands heals ever since the release of the slightly above average “Volcano” back in 2002. The lingering presence that Satyricon are attempting to create a black metal anthem hangs around the record like the stench of bad eggs and while the riffs are full of groove and drummer Frost is on top form (yet again) very little else is worth listening to.
Now, the main problem with the album I shall get out of the way straight away- Satyr’s vocals are, at times hilariously bad, and mostly rise to nothing but distinctly average. To be honest, even at the bands peak and “Nemesis Divina” they were slightly above average at best, but now he sounds like a pathetic angry man in his forties. One or two of the guitar lines he churns out are actually incredibly catchy, but any credit he is due is let down by his vocal performance.
In fact, all “The Age of Nero” does is mislead you. For a guy who liked “Now, Diabolical” quite a bit this album seems to be the perfect follow up. “Black Crow on a Tombstone” seems, when it begins to be one rock and roll ride akin to “K.I.N.G” off the bands previous effort, but as soon as the vocals kick in any primeval spark seems to have been extinguished. And while “Die by My Hand” is spruced up with some good thrash inspired drumming and a considerable vocal improvement from Satyr, it cannot disguise the same riff right from the beginning, albeit chopped up and made a tad faster. On every single song, the same groove laden guitar lines and technical drumming can be found in one form or another which just highlights how much of a one trick pony the band has become.
To completely write the album off altogether would be harsh, for if you like the recent sound Satyricon has developed then there is plenty to revel in. As previously mentioned one or two guitar lines are groove laden and especially catchy and Frost hands in another stellar performance. But that really is it. Even back in the glory days of “Nemesis Divina” Satyr’s lyrics were about as stereotypical as you could possibly get, and on this album they digress further into the territory. You get the feeling that “The Wolfpack” is an attempt at a rallying black and roll rocker, but it just leads the listener to nowhere. “Painfully she moans indeed, rapidly aggressively” growls the frontman. Yes, that’s right. I’ve heard playground insults more threatening and malevolent than this.
Disappointment is the word that springs to mind when you hear “The Age of Nero”. Perhaps what it does best is highlight the stale nature at which Satyricon goes about their business. The drumming is decent, one or two guitar lines have some good groove in them, but that really is it. If you liked “Now, Diabolical” you will probably pick this up. If not, then stay well away and listen to the first three albums.
1. Die By My Hand
2. The Sign of the Trident
3. My Skin is Cold