Satyricon – The Age of Nero (Koch Records)

Friday, 15th March 2013
Rating: 8.5/10

Never one to stand still, Satryicon mainman Satyr (aka Sigurd Wongraven) has made another personal affront to moving his dastardly duo forward with The Age of Nero. Sure, a rehash of 2006’s gleaming Now, Diabolical would have been suitable, even enough to satiate us for another couple of years, but no, that’s not how he and drummer Frost operate. The Age of Nero is painstakingly precise, yet devilishly simple at the same time, proving that while the rest of Nordic BM is content to stand pat, Satyricon are already onto something else.

If we were to look at this one way, it be that The Age of Nero is an extension of the down-and-dirty, raw black and roll heard on both Now, Diabolical and 2002’s breakthrough Volcano. The riffs are simple, but have enough thrust and power to last eons (see the subtle repletion of “Black Crow On A Tombstone”). Satyr is as discernable and provocative as ever, especially on album opener “Commando” where he literally is shouting commands at the black metal throng.

Where The Age of Nero works best is during the sleazy, almost sensuous (yeah, really) riffing of “The Wolfpack.” Satyr (who handles all instrumentation besides drums) has become the master of the 4/4 BM riff, no longer needing the amped-up speed and melodic frenetics of his early years. Lead single “My Skin Is Cold” is effective, as is the short and stout “Last Man Standing.”

Frost never lets it rip here, although it has been stated by Satyr a million times that the skinsman has become a rather effective groove drummer. Guess he wants to save his blast skills for 1349, eh?

At face value, The Age of Nero isn’t going to shock or surprise anyone. Instead, it’s the type of album that will gradually weave its way into your psyche. There’s lots of depth here, even with simple and basic songs and better yet, there’s this grandiose, almost pompous attitude with this thing that makes Satyricon far more bold and say, a Dimmu Borgir.

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