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Satyricon - "The Age Of Nero" (CD)

Satyricon - "The Age Of Nero" CD cover image

"The Age Of Nero" track listing:

1. Commando
2. The Wolfpack
3. Black Crow on a Tombstone
4. Die by my Hand
5. My Skin is Cold
6. The Sign of the Trident
7. Last Man Standing
8. Den Siste

Reviewed by on April 4, 2009

"Now with their seventh release “The Age of Nero,” sex is the word. "

Satyricon has been making their brand of black metal since 1990. But their latest album “The Age of Nero” is a bit different than their previous works. If you enjoy conventional black metal (blistering speed, indiscriminate growls, etc.), read on with caution. Satyricon has changed their sound a few times since their conception. At first, they were strictly black metal with themes of the Medieval Age. “Rebel Extravaganza,” their fourth album released in 1999, saw some industrial metal influence. Now with their seventh release “The Age of Nero,” sex is the word.

The album starts quickly with riveting guitar-work on “Commando,” but as the first few songs progress the listener will begin to see a pattern. The drums are slow, as if you were watching a burlesque show, the guitars scale through their notes determinedly and rhythmically, and the choruses are made to sing along to. There are some black metal moments, but don’t expect Goatwhore or Cradle of Filth to pop into your head. The vocals are in no way offensive to the ears. Satyr took on the title of the announcer for a sleazy peep-show that is “The Age of Nero.” Its sexy, dark and danceable music that really puts you in the mood, but not the mood to jump in the pit.

Satyricon has caught criticism and lost some credibility with fans for the commercial song structuring and flat sound of the album. Listening to song after song becomes repetitive. Seemingly all the songs have a verse-bridge-chorus-breakdown-repeat method, and coupled with metronome rhythm and no escalation can put you to sleep if you’re not careful. However a song at a time sounds fantastic. It moves your hips back and forth until you find yourself dancing and growling along with Satyr.

Despite its shortcomings, there are a few surprises to be found on “The Age of Nero.” In “Black Crow on a Tombstone” we are introduced to a choir that sings on the bridge and chorus reminiscent of NWOBHM-radio-friendly bands (think “Cum on Feel the Noize” a la Quiet Riot). The chorus is not present on every song, but makes quite an impression on “Die by my Hand” when they imitate a monk choir. The choir fits in with the new music if you understand that Satyr wants his music to be “…rock based, but more extreme.” Another surprise is the addition of a horn section in “Den Siste.” The horns are so quiet at first, you may think you’re hearing something in the distance. They begin to escalate and make themselves known. You’re so excited that there will finally be some aggression, some excitement other than another of the same song as the horns get louder and louder and then…a slight pause and the monotony continues. So much for something different.

The songs on the album are awesome to listen to individually. Played all in a row, you see how similar and commercial they are. Fear not fans! The music is great. Just don’t get your hopes up too high for “The Age of Nero.” You may be burned-out by the fourth song.

Highs: Slower pace rhythm is sexy and fun to dance to.

Lows: Monotonous structure and pace.

Bottom line: Commercial-style for every song, but a good listen if you like good ol’ rock n’ roll.

Rated 3.0 out of 5 skulls
3.0 out of 5 skulls


Key
Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)