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Satyricon has to be one of the most controversial bands to emerge out of the Norwegian black metal movement. However, unlike bands such as Burzum, Emperor, or Mayhem, this is not due to any actions committed by band members. Oh no, not at all. Satyricon is controversial for pretty much one reason: changing their damn sound. This, of course, happens to a lot of bands, and sometimes it's for the better. Unfortunately, this cannot be said about Satyricon. Not that Satyricon is a bad band. They never were. But once "Rebel Extravaganza" came out in 1999, the dudes dropped the epic, somewhat medieval influenced black metal sound in favor of a musical style which mixes hard rock with some black metal aesthetics, namely the vocals, which remained harsh and raspy. "The Age of Nero" is Satyricon's fourth album to continue this formula and their seventh overall. What we get is certainly decent material, but it definitely could have been better.
"Commando" is the introductory track to this album and right away, we get a taste of what's to come. The song actually starts off with some of the fastest drumming to be heard on the entire album, with loads of double bass and what sound like blast beats. "Die by My Hand" is also a great example of this. However, most of these songs are consistently mid-paced, which really brings that hard rock influence out front. I can't say this album sounds like bad radio rock, though. These songs don't totally sound like they'd be the next big radio hit, although they do maintain a fairly accessible feel. This is both a blessing and a curse. These songs are crafted very well but do not even slightly compare to the Satyricon of old, which has been the case of everything post-"Nemesis Divina". I swear this is one of those classic "if this had been released as a side project or by a band that has always played this sort of music, it would have been better" situations. Seriously, after "Nemesis", these guys should have just made a side project for "black rock" albums and kept with a consistent formula for Satyricon. However, of course, this did not happen, and that's still okay.
One issue I have with this album is how the songs all seem to just blend together without much variation. There are plenty of killer guitar riffs and, as previously mentioned proficient drum lines, but they really don't do too much to differentiate from each other. Vocal wise, Satyr sounds like he has throughout Satyricon's entire career, save for "Dark Medieval Times", as he sounds different on that album when compared to "The Shadowthrone" and beyond. His vocal performance is solid as ever, although one thing Satyricon hasn't ever done particularly stellar on is the lyrics department. The lyrics on this album are fairly "meh". They aren't too distracting or anything, but they're just not all that good and really don't create any specific feelings or atmosphere. In fact, this entire album doesn't really invoke any specific feelings or much of an atmosphere, as it's somewhat bland and seems uninspired a lot of the time, save for a few really cool songs such as the aforementioned "Commando" and the extremely catchy yet satisfying "Black Crow On a Tombstone".
So, "The Age of Nero" is definitely a modern Satyricon album, but it's not their best. I'd say either "Volcano" or "Now, Diabolical" are the best albums Satyricon has made since "Nemesis Divina" but really, those albums are probably only a little above average at best. What we get here is an average album that could have been better, but at the same time, is not as bad as most people tend to say it is. It's a hell of a lot better than the band's 2013 self-titled album.
Satyricon have over the course of their career succeeded in alienating a great deal of their fan base with their black 'n' roll direction that the band has undertaken since their album 'Rebel Extravaganza' was released in 1999. This direction change has since continued, the pinacle of which was reached with 2006's release of 'Now, Diabolical' which successfully brought together what had been undertaken since 'Rebel...' at the same time pleasing the fans of the new black 'n' roll material. However, this had the issue of further alienating the diehard fans. Fast forward to 2008 and we have 'The Age of Nero', which takes the new style and forms an unholy union with their black metal roots, drawing from the first wave inspirations they look up to.
Instrumentally both Satyr and Frost are on top form; Frost is a truly talented drummer, his double bass work is flawless, ripping out fast, controlled and technical double bass rhythms and then swapping easily into the slower rock style passages, never once sounding out of place or flawed. On guitar, Satyr cooks up some very catchy and memorable riffs, songs such as 'Black Crow on a Tombstone' and 'Commando' will both stick in your head, whether you like it or not, the riffs are very good, drawing on both black metal and old school rock stylings, coupled with a deep fuzz distortion and you have a recipe for a good song basis, simple, nothing technical, but memorable. The riffs are varied as well, no two songs have ones that are too similar that you're in danger of mixing them up, they also change throughout the songs, evolving so no one will become boring. This album is a lot heavier than 'Now Diabolical' there's a lot heavier base, and as a result there's a lot more of an assault upon listening, more to get into, and this is good, the album draws you in, and envelops you in a suffocating darkness. This album is slower than a lot of their previous works, with only a couple of fast songs, the quickest been 'Die By My Hand' but most pound along, building up hate and anger as they go till your at breaking point, then hit you with a faster song.
Vocally, Satyr is as he always is, his mid-ranged growl spits out lyrics that sound full of hate. His range is very limited, not getting particually high at any point, but rather he creates vocal lines that match his riffage and then becomes higher in the chorus, creating vocal patterns that are as catchy as the riffs themselves. Lyrically there is nothing particularly special about the album, they are generic, and in some places sound out of place or just don't make sense. For example, from 'Commando':
In the house of lords
We control the movement
Of your limbs
There is endless beauty
In the might that we possess
Dragons are creatures
Of (our) own imagination
And dragons... Dragons breathe fire
The lyrics don't draw much away though, their never annoying, just there.
Overall, Satyricon have released a great black 'n' roll album, it's not black metal by any definition, but it's a fun album to listen to, well crafted, well produced and very dark and heavy. It's more likely to interest people than 'Now, Diabolical' if they are after a heavy album. But if your a fan of the new Satyricon, then this is a definite must listen.
Black Crow on a Tombstone
Die By My Hand
Sign of The Trident
Originally posted on: http://www.sputnikmusic.com/review/58727/Satyricon-The-Age-Of-Nero/
Satyricon are a frustrating band. Anyone familiar with their early work knows that they were genuine pioneers of a new approach to black metal and it was bloody good stuff. Then relative mainstream exposure came their way and things started to change. The sound was stripped down to a less complex, rock n roll vibe while still maintaining some level of black metal. The two albums before this share equal amounts of scorn and acclaim, while this album continues down that path.
Satyricon still play black metal but it does seem to be aimed at a larger audience. Nothing wrong with this as long as the songs stand up, but this is often where the band falls short. This album isn't quite as stripped down and mainstream-orientated as Now, Diabolical, although I quite like that album in small doses. 'The Age of Nero' just sounds confused at times, almost like the band were trying to add a little more black metal back into their sound while still striving for acceptance.
Tremolo riffing is definitely more prominent here than on the last album, conjuring up comparisons in my mind to post-2000 Darkthrone. A bizarre blend of black metal and rock but stripped of all elements of speed and atmosphere. Frost actually gets the bass drums going at a rapid pace at times, particularly the opening of 'The Sign of the Trident' but then it drops back down into a plodding groove of sorts, only to pick up the drum speed again underneath a catchy tremolo riff. It works on this track, but I can understand older fans of the band not liking this style, same with Darkthrone. i think a lot of offense comes from a blatant attempt at writing singles, 'Commando', 'Black Crow on a Tombstone' and 'My Skin is Cold' all aiming for catchy choruses over a simplistic black metal structure. 'Die By My Hand' is probably the most blackened track here, but goes on too long as do a couple of other tracks. If you're going to write simplified, unvaried songs, don't drag them out for 7 minutes.
Musically, as I said this is simple. Frost apparently saves up most of his epic drum work for 1349 and session work. Satyr crafts better riffs here than on Now, Diabolical and occasionally you even hear the bass! His vocals have no variation but they never did. He could be worse, at least this isn't drowned in effects like Dimmu Borgir, but it's just your standard black metal croak and lyrics that just completely pass me by with their irrelevance.
This is just one of those albums where good ideas exist, but all too often get smothered in the confusion of mixing different genres or by being dragged out too long into slow, boring tracks. 'Last Man Standing' is a late highlight to the album, with a nice bendy riff and the fact that it doesn't go on for too long. The last track just bores the tits off me to be honest though.
I've got a bonus disc with this album, which appears to be the 'My Skin is Cold' EP with a couple of extra tracks. A nice addition if you don't own that rare EP, but I won't review that here.
Overall, a confusing and confused album. Fans of early 90's Satyricon who don't like Volcano or Now, Diabolical won't find a return to form here, but at least this album is better than those two. Worth a listen if you like your black metal a little more radio-friendly.
Recommended tracks: Black Crow on a Tombstone, The SIgn of the Trident, Last Man Standing
To make one thing clear right from the outset: those only looking for the second coming of “Nemesis Divina” are best advised to look elsewhere. “Nemesis Divina” was arguably Satyricon’s crowning achievement and may be up there with best Norwegian black metal albums of all time (or even black metal, period), but “The Age of Nero” does not bear much resemblance to it, which means those approaching this album expecting something similar to “Nemesis Divina” are only setting themselves up for disappointment. This is not to say that Satyricon’s latest effort to date sounds like it was released by a completely different band – after all, it's still Satyr writing the songs, it’s still Satyr’s unmistakable voice, it’s still Frost’s signature drumming and there are still moments on here that hark back to the band’s sound of old. Still, other than the closing track “Den Siste” and the occasional déjà-vu moment, this is a very different animal.
But just what kind of animal is it, really? The only tracks that largely fit the more “traditional” black metal mold are “Die by My Hand”, “My Skin Is Cold” and “Den Siste”, and even among those three, “Den Siste” (sung entirely in Norwegian, which is always a plus) is the only one that would have felt right at home on any of Satyricon’s first three albums. “My Skin Is Cold”, despite being of the slow and plodding variety, features the requisite tremolo-picked riffing and specific mood or atmosphere typically associated with black metal, while “Die by My Hand”, the fastest track on the album, boasts some nice blast beat passages but later takes an interesting turn with a sort of Middle Eastern or Egyptian-tinged male background choir we probably would not have heard on any pre-“Rebel Extravaganza” album. Even so, it is an experiment that works very well, adding a surprisingly catchy element to the song without sounding forced or out of place.
The remainder of the tracks is pretty much what can be expected from latter-day Satyricon, who for the most part stick to their tried-and-true black-‘n’-roll (for lack of a better term) formula. The only minor difference to previous albums is that this time around, the band dumped some of the more overtly “rockish” elements in favor of more variation and heaviness in the riff department and an overall bleaker, eerier, more sinister atmosphere.
At this point, a quick word on the drums is in order: with a guy like Frost behind the kit, the drums certainly are in very capable hands, though it still feels somewhat weird to hear him play with this much restraint. Apart from the occasional blasts and double-bass barrage, Frost seems content with laying down the basic rhythmic groundwork while abstaining from any ostentatiously technical excursions. Though this may fit the more streamlined musical approach of Satyricon’s more recent work, the listener can’t help but think that the man’s tremendous talents are somewhat underutilized or even wasted here. After all, Frost has a well-earned reputation as one of the fastest, most technically proficient and overall best drummers in all of black metal, probably even metal in general. Then again, for all those who miss the vicious aural assault Frost is usually known for, there is still a certain band called 1349 where he regularly puts on a clinic and unleashes his infamous battery in all its extravagant glory.
So, is “The Age of Nero” really up to par with Satyricon’s best work from the early to mid 1990s? No, it is not, but it is still recommended to all those who can appreciate a brand of black metal that dares to deviate from the orthodox doctrine. At any rate, deriding latter-day Satyricon as stadium or “Gucci” black metal is in itself quite laughable. If anything, Satyr deserves some respect for boldly straying from safe and trodden paths to create something fresh without compromising his artistic integrity or pandering to any kind of mainstream. Thus, “The Age of Nero” is a good but not great record that should be appreciated for what it is instead of being constantly judged by what some think the band should sound like. That being said, Satyr could do worse than trying to recapture some of that old “Nemesis Divina” magic whenever he sits down to write his next album …
Choicest cuts: “Den Siste”, “My Skin Is Cold”, “Die by My Hand”, “The Sign of the Trident”
A fine albums made by the ever-simplifying Satyricon, The Age of Nero is a beautifully-produced, smartly-written album of full-on stadium black metal. Comprised of eight mid-paced songs of riff-centric heavy metal with harmonies hearkening to their black metal roots (and very often Thorns’ stellar debut), Satyricon again shows their aplomb at writing and performing truly memorable songs. I recall (vocalist/guitarist/overlord) Satyr once pretentiously going on about how challenging his music was when compared to Cradle of Filth (never been a fan myself), though his grandstanding was undermined at the time (1999) because his songs didn’t quite work and- though I’ve never been a CoF fan- a lot of CoF’s music is pretty complex/challenging (just ruined by dumb vocals and dainty keyboards and shitty arrangements). Now, quite undeniably, Satyricon is making music that is far simpler than CoF (or even old Satyricon), but this new music is significantly better: it has a passion and vision.
Like Enslaved did on Below the Lights and Immortal with At the Heart of Winter, these Norwegians defined their modern and superior identity on Volcano, the first album where most of the songs flowed, progressed and worked. While occasionally “a-ton-of- cool-riffs-thrown-together” can work (eg. Satyricon’s “Tied in Bronze Chains” & Carcass’ Necroticism), that haphazard approach to songwriting usually yields inferior product to songs with a core emotional identity. The upward trajectory of Satyricon directly correlates to the simplification of their material: though The Age of Nero and the previous two albums are not Venom/Sodom simple, most songs (like classic heavy metal songs) have three or four main parts that are developed with production details, additional voices, harmony guitar, different drum beats & orchestral stuff. Moreover, the riffs have gotten better and better over the years. On The Age of Nero, the chilly blitz conclusion of “Commando,” the latter portions of “Last Man Standing” and “Die By My Hand” (“Creeping Death” anyone?) are all standouts. And the gigantic riffs (and orchestral adornments) of “Den Siste” also create cyclopean visuals.
Enough good things cannot be said about drummer Frost, who is one of the most consistently great drummers in extreme metal, alongside Inferno (Behemoth) and Hellhammer. Frost’s wild work on Keep of Kalessin’s stellar Reclaim EP (that band’s high water mark for sure), his inhuman propulsion and surprising shifts in 1349 (his work on Beyond the Apocalypse is historic) and his deep groove, beautifully-written drum parts on the last three Satyricon albums are ample proof that in terms of creativity, quality, delivery and versatility, Frost currently has no equal (though Inferno of Behemoth is a close second). On The Age of Nero Frost writes excellent drum parts that chisel and empower the riffs as well as anything Lombardo did at his best (South of Heaven), and there is no other drummer working who would come up with these parts, yet his playing here is never showy (as was Lombardo’s). The vacillation of double bass speeds in “Commando,” the tom-tom tour de force in “Black Crow on a Tombstone,” and the deep pocket switch (2:13) on the “Wolfpack” are but three tasty choices of his, though every single song has brilliant stuff by this guy. For the last three albums, half of the success of this band stems from Frost’s masterfully written and passionately performed drum parts.
The vocals haven’t changed as much as every other aspect of Satyricon, except that we get less of the forced refrains that don’t quite work— sorry, but the choruses of “Mother North,” “Filthgrinder,” “Havoc Vulture,” “Suffering the Tyrant,” and “Delirium” are all really, really annoying. The Age of Nero is the first album Satyricon has made where all of the refrains are good (or at least not annoying). The approach and voice of Satry behind the mic is pretty much the same and perhaps the last area for this band to improve in the future.
Overall the album is a bit too repetitious, and a slight step down from Now, Diabolical, but it is good and will keep if not grow Satyricon’s fanbase. And because this is big, anthemic stadium black metal, unlike a lot of black metal, it would work well in the live environment.
Satyricon, a band that is fairly hated in the black metal community for creating this melodic black metal style. Yes, I called it melodic black metal, since it is neither black metal or black 'n' roll. You can take Carcass and their shift towards melodic death metal back in '93 with the album Heartwork. As they did, Satyricon went from black metal to a style still keeping black elements but also a more heavy form of metal. Of course there is the vocals as well, which actually at sometimes could be compared to Jeff Walker's.
The production has improved since Now, Diabolical and it sounds much more professional. On some tracks on the album there has been added a tuba which really blends in with the music, and gives it a nice feel, where the previous album had a more evil sound to it, The Age of Nero has a more dark sound but also keeping the evilness. To be honest I really hope that the band will sit down soon and work on a new album in the same vein of this release, and Now, Diabolical as well. Hopefully the addition of some orchestral music on the next record maybe to give it a diverse feel. It has been four years since the release of this album at the time of this review, so maybe the band will announce something soon.
The first song I encountered from this album was my skin is cold, the version on this album is different though, as the version I heard first and still prefer is from the EP of the same name. Not that the album version is bad, the EP version just has I better sound to it. This release also sees the return of a song in Norwegian in the likes of Den Siste which means The Last. The album cover for this release is pretty good, at least for my taste. The picture of the black crow and its dark surroundings gives it a dark feel, and it is kind of in the same vein when you talk layout as the previous two albums. At the time of this review it has been four years since this album was released. There's plenty of highlights from this album, even though they may not strike you as memorable songs at first. Though I always prefer to recommend people to listen to the entire album, there is some people who are more than lazy. The Wolfpack, Black Crow on a Tombstone, My Skin is Cold, The Sign of the Trident and Den Siste is the tracks that really shines through, but again, listen to the whole album.
If you expect black metal, or some kind of modern black metal, then keep away from this album. But saying that is kind of mean... Keep an open mind when you listen to new music, ignore all the bash talk that angry black metal kids are slinging around the internet about Satyricon, this album is great, dark and entertaining.
There has also been a lot of people talking trash about the way the band looks on the promo shots and videos for this album, no it may not be "trve kvlt blerk mertl" and I am very thankful for that. So I would like to end this review with a quote.
"Oh the irony of black metal fans criticising someone for their appearance..."
Written for The Legacy Reviews
Satyricon - 'The Age of Nero'. Ho hum. Well, after having read some reviews on this album, it seems to me that the main point of criticism is that this once True Elite Black Metal band sold out and produced a watered-down 'Black Rock'-album in a quest for air-play and $ (or rather Norwegian kroner). I strongly disagree with this. In fact, it's exactly the opposite: 'The Age of Nero' doesn't sound like a commercial and radio-friendly 'Black album' made by an established and respected veteran Black Metal band, no, 'The Age of Nero' sounds like the product of a mainstream Rock band that decided to do an evil and grim Black Metal album. The band photos already tell the tale: the band is posing in front of dark Norwegian landscapes, definitely a fitting setting for a Black Metal picture, but Satyr does his best rock star impersonation and looks totally out of place in the midst of the majestic nature. I mean, while Frost looks his old ugly self, Satyr literally looks like Bono from U2...
Now let me tell you that I'm a big fan of this band, from their first album (I bought 'Dark Medieval Times' when it was first released) up to and including 'Volcano'. Yeah, I loved 'Volcano': the album wasn't as epic as 'the Shadowthrone' or 'Nemesis Divina', it wasn't as aggressive as 'Rebel extravaganza', and it didn't have the atmosphere of 'Dark Medieval Times', but it still had well written, interesting songs with great riffs, and it had a very strange kind of darkness to it. Even the one-dimensional, straight-forward and modern-sounding radio-hit 'Fuel for hatred' wasn't that horrible, at least it rocked. 'Now, diabolical', then, was a mixed bag of goods, starting off terribly with three very simple and weak tracks, but the second half of this album was far better and a couple tracks wouldn't have been out of place on 'Volcano'. All in all, it was a disappointing album, but I still had hope for this band. With 'The Age of Nero', my hopes are now gone...
The tracks on 'The Age of Nero' seem to be leftovers from the 'Volcano' and even the 'Now, diabolical' sessions. Same sound, same style, less quality. 'A weaker Volcano' - that pretty much sums up this album. A Volcano that is inactive and extinct. I have to admit, not all is bad though: 'My skin is cold', 'Die by my hand' and maybe also 'Commando' are good tracks, nearly reaching the level of quality that I've been used to from Satyricon. But the rest... it goes from bland ('the Sign of the Trident', 'the Wolfpack') to downright bad ('Last man standing', 'Den siste' and especially 'Black Crow on a Tombstone', which is no better than the horrific 'K.I.N.G.' that infested the radio some years ago). Sure, these guys have great musicianship, Satyrs voice is still one of the most expressive in Black Metal, and they recorded this album in a very big and expensive and great studio, but how does all this help when many of Satyrs riffs and songwriting here are totally uninspired? So is Frosts drumming: simple and uninspired. Some may call it solid, I call it generic, even the single 6 second long blastbeat that happens somewhere. They can do so much better. Worst of all, the album totally lacks feeling, something Satyricon always had earlier, whatever style they were playing. This album is sterile. There is no depth to it. Even it's mighty and well-balanced sound does not save it. You can have as heavy a guitar-tone as you possibly want, if your riffs are uninteresting, your music will be too. It all sounds half-hearted, flat and tired. Satyr boasted that the track 'Den siste' (the last one) sounds very, very 'dead'. It does indeed sound 'dead' and 'empty', but in a negative way - it does not sound dark or depressive at all, but simply dull, plodding, boring and devoid of any energy. It sounds like the band just wanted to get done with their 'job', call it an evening and leave their L.A. based studio for some chic fancy party. After having listened to this track, I got the feeling that this album was indeed 'den siste' / 'the last one', the last straw, the end of the band.
As I already said, not all is bad here, and there are many many Black Metal albums out there that are far worse. But 'The Age of Nero' is not really worth to own, not even as a diehard Satyricon fan. To the Satyricon fanatics, I strongly recommend to get the 'My skin is cold' EP instead of this album. The EP includes an earlier (and better) version of 'My skin is cold', the best track on 'the Age of Nero', and two very interesting and rare bonus tracks from the 'Vulcano' LP, and two unreleased live tracks that sound great. To conclude this review, I will state that Satyricon badly need to reinvent themselves once again. The 'Volcano'-formula is milked and worn out for good.
The 21st century has brought a change to Satyricon which seems to have polarized some of their original fan base, whose adoration of the band seems to end at Nemesis Divina. I, for one, have really enjoyed this direction, this simpler style. Volcano was a great record, and Now, Diabolical has grown on me. The Age of Nero is another successful outing, very similar to the last few records but with a meatier production, and a stronger death/doom metal influence beginning to show in a few of the riffs.
The album opens with "Commando", and you'll notice immediately that this record share's Now, Diabolical's flair for minimal yet profound lyrics. Frost is on fire with the drums, though most of beats are simple like the songs, he unleashes some double bass fury to remind you that this IS Frost, after all. The riffs are just as groove-laden as the past few albums, but undeniably evil. They are catchy throughout the eight tracks of the album. "Black Crow on a Tombstone" is a thrasher breaking into the perfect, simple black metal riff. "Die By My Hand" is accompanied by some repressed, male chorus lines which create a haunting atmosphere. "My Skin is Cold" has some of the better riffs on the album, people may already be familiar with this tune because of the promotional EP earlier in the year. "The Sign of the Trident" has these really cool parts where some bass synth line blares just at the edge of perception, an interesting effect. "Last Man Standing" is pure old Celtic Frost worship with a Satyricon blow-dry.
In the end, this is another winner for the Norse band. They seem content with this style and they do an excellent job with it. If you're expecting the more glorious, folkish black metal of their yesteryears and haven't enjoyed the last two records, you won't find much in this to admire. Otherwise, it rocks, well worth a purchase. Let's just hope they don't make any stupid videos for it like they did on the last album.
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.
Originally written for Rockfreaks.net
Let me just get one thing out of the way first. I'm reviewing this album as a fan of more traditional forms of metal, having not become familiar with Satyricon's earlier work yet. I am not a Black Metal expert, nor will I attempt to pass myself off as one here.
When I first heard of this, hearing that the band in question was once a Black Metal band but now played more traditional, rocking music, I was like, "hey, it can't be that bad! I like hard rock and traditional metal and other things of that nature. If Venom and later Darkthrone can pull it off, what are the chances that this will be the one band to royally fuck it up? Right? Right?!" I guess I thought that the backlash against this band's newer material was just the result of a bunch of Black Metal purists not tolerating the change of style that band leader Satyr and his compadres had chosen to take. Well, I was wrong, and you Black Metal fans can consider this my personal apology to you.
I mean really. Is this the best this VETERAN BAND can produce so far into their career? This half-baked, dullard blend of lifeless guitar plunking and half-assed croaking? It's really hard to take the music industry seriously at this point. Were the sound engineers, the record execs, the managers...were they all asleep when Satyricon was recording this? I can't think of any other excuse, unless the band snuck into the studio late at night to do it all themselves before anyone could stop them. The Age of Nero is completely bereft of any entertainment value or creativity at all, an album that is about forty minutes long but feels like it lasts eighty. This is background music of the very worst kind. The songs plod on needlessly with dumb grooves that make no effort to stand out or catch your attention, never doing much, never changing tempo or even making any attempts at atmosphere or anything. They just...exist for the sake of existing. And driving me to terrible homicidal urges along the way, can't forget that.
There are some Black Metal elements in the guitar playing, but it's diluted into something too basic and stupid to carry any kind of punch, and the rest of the time the guitars do nothing but churn out stale blandness that doesn't even get a pulse going at all. It's hard to even describe how bad this is; it's just completely worthless on every level, and that's putting it as bluntly and as straightforward as possible. The music is completely sterile. It never takes any risks, it never feels proud or even like the band was having fun writing it. It's the most elementary, juvenile trash ever, the musical equivalent of two plus two equals four, a complete void of anything resembling coherent or even moderately higher thought processes.
Satyr's vocals are laughable; just a faux-harsh sort of croak that seems to be trying to sound badass and coarse a la Lemmy or Cronos or something, but it just sounds more like an asshole trying to make his voice sound as tough as possible, only to end up sounding completely fake and ridiculous. There's no passion or anger or anything to this performance, it's completely enervated! Good lord, can't you give us just one iota of energy or fire in this performance at all? Is it really that much to ask for music to be filled with things that make me want to headbang or sing along or even just raise the fucking horns? This is ridiculous! This is insipid twaddle! Can this be any worse at all? I don't think it can.
The worst thing about this is just the way you always think it's going to explode into a headbanging fury or just anything cool at all, but it never does. This happens several times on the album, and every time it never fails to disappoint. The only way this could be any worse is if Satyr actually put voice clips in there that shouted "GOTCHA!" every time it seems like the music is building up to a climax and ends up not. What, so it wasn't enough to deprive the music of anything enjoyable, so you had to stick in parts where it SOUNDS like it's about to get good and then end up sliding back down into an anti-climax?
This record is a fucking joke. There is nothing about it that is compelling or endearing or gripping or even the least bit enjoyable. I don't even want to think about the kind of people this trash would actually appeal to. You could literally just turn on a record of nothing but two walruses having sex, and you would still have something more artistic than this. You could put on a fucking Jonas Brothers record and find something more enjoyable. You could get the same effect that this music brings out of listening to your lawnmower hum, your dishwasher rumbling, your vacuum cleaner or even the static of your television. All of those things are about on the same wavelength as The Age of Nero, and yet they are not nearly as deplorable as this, simply for the fact that no money or time went into producing them. Well, except for the Jonas Brothers.
The band obviously hates their fans and anyone who would actually condescend to give them a chance, because this is just such a huge middle finger to anyone who ever liked this band in the first place. The lack of effort on here is astonishing, and it just goes to show how little this band gives a fuck. Just throw this idiotic, ass-felching garbage in the trash where it belongs; you will be doing the whole world a favor.
Let me just leave you with one more thought, just one more thing: There are demo bands striving in the underground, hopeful and good-natured kids who are trying real hard to get record deals and share their music with the world. There are some really talented up-and-coming bands who would give anything to have the level of popularity that this band has, and have access to the studios they use to produce and write their music, and yet Satyricon are apparently content with producing horse manure like The Age of Nero, sucking up money and time into a great void of fecal matter from which nothing can ever return. That is a shame. Here's a tip for all of you reading this. The next time Satyr decides it's time for him to push out another one of these festering abortions, just run fast in the opposite direction, because nothing good can come from it.
Satyricon. Once was a great name among black metallers, but now just a name for the shame. It is totally sold out by it's second famous user (after Petronius). After the classic first 3 albums' greatness, they are started to change their style and make new things. This wasn't the problem. OK, go and try some new stuff, it's just natural evolution. At first it really seemed that they're trying to create new things. Rebel was something interesting, even if I don't like that album. Volcano was again something new, and I liked it much better than Rebel.
And then came Now, Diabolical. Quite stupid name for anything. But what was worst, the music was started to go straight down on the quality line. Right, there were some 'top hits' on that album, which could work very well on a loud concert, and on some hit lists. Here comes the real problem: Satyricon became a money making machine for teenage girls and boys, and nothing else. Teens around the world become 'great' Satyricon fans (after knowing one or two albums from them), because Satyr gave them a very simple, listenable, headbanging music, which they can shout it's simple lyrics upon a concert. )
And the teenage youth started to think that they will be very cool listening to 'real' 'black metal'. Quite the same situation as with Dimmu Borgir, but at least they're trying to make a little bit less boring music with symphonics and pseudo-concepts etc., and they're at least have ICS Vortex. But Satyr just made hit-like songs which are easy to play on concerts and even the dumbest teenagers can hear the themes in them, so they can enjoy it.
And here we are with Age of Nero. What can I say about this? It's totally fucking monotonous, repetitive and just boring. There is absolutely nothing here, what we haven't heard before under the name of Satyricon. Standard riffs, neutral lyrics shouted on Satyr's still good voice (but because of the refrain repetitions, it fastly becomes boring). And that's all. I don't say that all of the riffs are a complete waste, but earlier he made MUCH better themes. The sound is professional and lifeless, focuses on the rithym, trying to sound really hard, but it's too sterile for me. There isn't any song on the album, what I can truly call a 'highlight'. All of the songs sounds the same, flat and tired, just the refrains and the main riffs changes moderately.
So what can I remember from this album when the playback finally stops? A few words from the refrains and one or two better riffs, nothing else. This is where real metal music ends, and pop music begins. As AbigorInFlames earlier wrote in his review, the 'sing-along with Satyr' feeling is overall the album, and it makes the serious listeners feel like a droid or zombee, as if they are trying to carve the refrains into their brains, and the situation is the same with the repetitive riffs.
This album is so utterly boring, that it even tires me to death to listen to it once again while I write this review. Usually I'm not from that kind of reviewers whom dragging down an album totally because they don't like it. But now I had to write this out from myself, because I'm terribly disillusioned by this piece of crap. Until now I considered myself as a Satyricon fan (and I will still listen to the early albums of course), but this crappy thing was the last drop in my glass. I just move on and not interested in any new stuff from Satyr, unless he makes a new Wongraven album, which I highly doubt.
The 5% is just simbolical. I just can't give zero for a band which once was so great even if they are now totally sold themselves out.
Satyricon’s latest is their best in over a decade. No, they haven’t gone back to their black metal roots; hardcore fans of the band must face reality and accept the fact that those days are long over. Yes I know, it was hard for me too… my impulse purchase of Nemesis Divina injected Norwegian blood in my veins. That being said, I’m more accepting than most of Satyricon’s evolution. More accepting, but less interested. It’s all good, but I prefer the icy cold north winds and dark forests of old. Now they’re pursuing the same sound and style set by their three previous recordings.
At first listen, it might be hard to tell this apart from everything else the morose ones have done over the past ten years, and of course the similarities are there. The production is slick and almost industrial, harsh dissonant riffs and themes have replaced those folk influences, and everything is played with tremendous precision. But this recording differs in one very important way, namely it has a lot less... well… groovy rock’n’roll tunes (Hey, if you have a better description for something like Fuel for Hatred let me know).
The opening track, Commando, hits you in the face with machine gun speed, and makes you growl with its slow steady tempo over the chorus. The Wolfpack is somewhat less interesting, with a more straightforward riff and industrial-like passages, but it’s ok. Black Crow on a Tombstone has a simple but cool main riff, if uninspired lyrics. Die By My Hand is my favourite track. This is the selling point right here, over seven minutes, fast and aggressive, with an awesome riff. It transitions into a slower section with subtle choral passages in the background. Great stuff. My Skin Is Cold tries to be ultra-creepy, and actually succeeds to some extent, at least a lot more than any song from their recent works. The Sign of the Trident is a righteous mid-tempo headbanger, with a daringly odd, arpeggiated riff over the verses. Last Man Standing is the one track on this disc that could most easily fit on Now’ Diabolical. It’s ok, but doesn’t seem to meld with the rest. The album ends with Den Siste, Satyricon’s version of death/doom metal. Yes, it’s very good.
The Age of Nero has nothing terrible original, but plenty of speed, tempo changes, doom-like influences and dark melodic passages that actually succeed in creating a definite atmosphere and metal aesthetic that was not present in their recent work.
Satyricon... If there's any band generating the lot of controversy in the black metal scene, well there you have it. Their evolution since the 1996's “Nemesis Divina” is almost indescribable – from a rather stereotypical (though not lacking in quality) black metal band, they became a sort of a black metal “rockstar” band – well, with Satyr and Frost as the principal constituents of the band, you couldn't really expect anything else. Their new album, “The Age Of Nero”, became a hope of sorts for the otherwise rather mediocre 2008 (at least as far as black metal is concerned).
And it delivers! Expect no “evolution of sound” here again – unlike their previous efforts, which all brought a significant step – well, aside, if not forward – this album is in general the perfected formula of 2006's “Now, Diabolical”. And there is not a single bad aspect of it. Simply put, every component that made “Now, Diabolical” such a good album has been turned up one notch. First of all – the production. This is the first time since 1999's “Rebel Extravaganza” that the production of a Satyricon album really has 100% balls. It was always good, if not great, but this time around, it really seems like every single knob was set to exactly the right value in the studio. The rockish black metal sound now finally got the chance to express itself to the fullest. Talking about the sound, I already named it “rockish black metal”, but not in the Darkthrone way, for example. No, not at all – we're talking about simplified black metal riffs (if they ever were complicated in the first place) with all the catchiness of a rock anthem. If you don't believe it, well, just listen to “Black Crow On A Tombstone”. Pure anthemic black metal which just begs to be played in your car, for instance. The riffs in general on this album were composed in such a way that they are not overly complicated or anything, but are damn sure to stick in your head for days. Each. One aspect that many found lacking on the previous album was Frost's drumming. Not that it was bad, it was perfectly precise and strong, but over the years, people got weary of that and wanted that trademark speed they knew Frost could deliver. Well, it's finally back. Of course, one cannot expect the 250 bpm blast beats you can hear in 1349, but still, your heart will be skipping when you hear “Die By My Hand” for the first time. The drumming is still very disciplined in nature, but this time, Frost seems to have extended the chain of his inner beast just that little more. This album in general works so well that it's hard not to love it exactly as it has been created.
What one might bring out, however, is the originality of the riffs. They are not a direct rip-off or anything, it's just that they might seem familiar. As I stated already, even besides the seeming perfection of the album itself, it could seem you've already heard all that after a few plays. The sheer catchiness of the songs will certainly keep you interested in this material for months, but, used to the progressiveness of Satyricon with each album as we are, it might eventually pose a problem. Not because you will grow tired of this album, but because you will probably grow tired of waiting for the next one. That, however, is neither the problem of this album or this particular moment, so all it remains for me is to recommend you to enjoy this one. Excellent work.
As I sit here listening to the latest Satyricon album “The Age Of Nero”, I am trying to put a gauge on exactly how much the band has changed, progressed and/or evolved throughout their career.
They were once a fairly extreme band, in terms of speed and blasting – and even their song writing was more complex. Their 3rd full length, 1996’s “Nemesis Divina” is one of my favourite Black Metal albums – and more importantly, is one of a handful of BM albums that really pulled me out of my (at the time) death metal headspace.
I simply couldn’t not like the album, it is/was so well written and contained many emotions and a spirit not often found in death metal. So, I hold if quite responsible for further expanding my musical horizon – so, thanks Satyricon haha.
Anyhow, since the early – mid 90’s they put out the punishing “Rebel Extravaganza”, but following that they scaled things back a bit. 2002’s “Volcano” saw the group incorporate a more easy listening approach in many songs, by utilising some slower, drawn out and more “rocky” type arrangements and riffs. The largest evidence of this was their single “Fuel For Hatred”, which coupled with a film clip turned many new fans to the band as it had far more marketability than anything the band had done previously.
Unfortunately, I was personally not a huge fan of this direction and lost interest in the band basically. 2006’s Now, Diabolical did prick up my ears a bit, as it was a little more extreme – but still didn’t excite me overtly.
So here we are, in 2008 – and The Age Of Nero has just hit shelves basically.
The blasting is still a rarity on the album (in fact, there’s only a partial blast in 1 section I think), it seems the band are more about atmosphere these days than ferocity. And I guess, it’s not a huge issue – the songs are well structured, and not as long as some of tunes on previous albums. The guitar work is very tight on this album, and the drum work is so solid it almost sounds like a drum machine at times. I find the drums a little minimalist actually, there’s nothing particularly exciting about them besides their tightness.
The songs are quite simple, but certainly aren’t boring. Satyr (guit/vox/songwriting) is very good at making his songs and the riffs within them flow quite well, and his riffs themselves have an energy and purpose which makes so many rather infectious.
Vocally, it’s nothing new for the band. Satyr’s growl/scream/rasp thing has been pretty much the same for quite some time now. It is a very apt vocal for the style, works really well – but I wish he would do a few other sounds, would really spice up certain sections.
The album is 8 tracks, of which there is no real standout. All the songs are pretty on par with one another, and I guess are fairly similar to one another.
One main qualm I have is production – it sounds kinda thin at times. It’s a very smooth sound, but the bass isn’t really utilised as well as it could be. I know that isn’t the black metal way really, but these guys are barely playing BM these days – and due to the almost rock riffage at times, and the grooving riffs – some more body to the sound would really benefit them in my opinion.
So basically what we have is a quite catchy, solid album. If you liked the last 2 Saytricon albums, you shouldn’t be disappointed. Personally, whilst not disliking it – I find it a bit safe, and lacking in “special” moments. Cool album cover though…
Black Rock would be quite a fitting description of what Satyricon has turned into over the course of their last few records. The rock factor doesn't have much to do with what would generally be perceived as rock n' roll but it comes into play when considering the hit-potential and general catchiness of the songs. Whatever the haters say though this is still black metal, no doubt about that. It is however NOT Norwegian black metal as it sounded back in the early 90's, far from it in fact. This album, as well as both Vulcano and Now, Diabolical!, is derived purely from old masters like Venom and Celtic Frost. The grinding riffs and the thundering drums hark back to the days when heavy metal was all about the power and glory of the riff and less about playing two million notes per minute over triggered blastbeats.
Satyricon's trump card is definitely the sheer catchiness of the songs themselves. There's not a song on here that's not instantly hummable. Again, here's a huge similarity with both Venom and Frost. Immediate favorites include Die by my Hand, which is just insanely catchy, and the pulverizing beast that is Commando!
I have no idea why black metallers these days seem to loathe Satyricon. Perhaps it's Satyr's pompous persona or just the fact that they've made the leap from the underground to metal stardom. If it's about them not being black metal enough I just don't get it. Listen to the old grand masters of the genre and fuck everything this side of the 80's. This is a kick ass album that black metal puritans will probably hate and that old-school metallers like myself will enjoy immensely.
I've never been a diehard fan of the band, and maybe this is one of the reasons why I really liked their late productions, with their more mechanical, dry and industrial sounds. I also started dancing on one of their most involving rhythms, imagining to attend one of their sadomasochistic parties. But they exaggerated, and what could be considered attitude, introspection or sinister wickedness today is enlightened by a different sun.
"The Age Of Nero" makes us ponder that those huge qualities have turned into writing sterility, lack of inspiration, repetitiveness, mortal boredom. The chocking sound and the vague industrial influence (Ministry?) need an even small writing support to produce their main effect, contrarily – as it happens now – they risk to cook an appetizer without the main dish. Substantially and foreseen "The Age Of Nero" develops along a row of sleepy rhythmical songs that look for groove without finding it and try to squeeze the metal without too much juice to come out.
And even when we're in front of some remarkable accelerations ("Die By My Hand") the emotional involvement is so low that we remain steady as in a picture. In the past I had to defend them from the accusations of old ferocious fans, but now I raise the white flag: they've to look for another lawyer.
Originally written for Silent Scream http://www.silentscreamzine.com/Home.asp?Lang=ENG
Unlike most fans of Satyricon's early music, I did not grudge their sound changing to a more accessible black-n-roll at all. All good bands evolve, and I considered 'Volcano' and 'Now, Diabolical' as crucial steps in the band's evolution. But the biggest peril of accesible music and airplay is that you stop being 'kvlt' and start becoming 'popular'. Which is not bad in itself, but when the musicians take too much of a liking to their new found popularity, they end up wanting more of it. And when this happens, the result is predictable. They pick some of the elements that gave them this new-found popular appeal, and try to do more and more of the same. And in doing so, they just shut their creativity faucets and become slaves to formulas. Formulas that need not necessarily work every time.
And the formula does not work this time around. All the songs in this album sound like watered down versions of either 'To the Mountains', the doomy closing track on their previous album or like 'Fuel for Hatred', arguably their biggest commercial success in their long career. Satyr sounds jaded and bored on all the songs. The guitaring is a whole lot of chugga-chugga-chugga and little else, and the drumming is perfunctory at best.
Of course, the album does not sound terribly bad or anything. But there is nothing that would make you want to give it more than a couple of spins. Also for some vague reason the songs seem to be roughly sorted in a descending order of its tempo. So, we start off with the fairly upbeat 'Commando' and by the time we reach 'Den Siste' the music has petered down into sounding like it's all playing in slow motion. It pretty much reflects how my enjoyment of the album proceeded - starts on a fairly high note, and hits rock bottom by the time the album ends.
I think it's time for another genre shift for these old time rockers. This album is only for those looking to complete their collection.