Originally written by Jordan Campbell
If you’ve been hip to Satyricon’s post-Rebel Extravaganza method of madness, you’ll certainly know what to expect from The Age of Nero. Satyr and Frost’s “arena black metal” is in full effect, and it’s as massive as it’s ever been. The duo have nailed this one, crafting an album that is on all fronts darker, nastier, and gnarlier than predecessors Volcano and Now, Diabolical. Trouble is, after all these years, the formula has become a little too easy to figure out. The voracious execution of these tracks, while badass in its own right, can’t compensate for a predictable premise.
Recently, Satyr has acted on a desire to express his music in a simpler, more authorative manner. With age, the appeal of blitzkrieg/hellstorm/holyshitsongwriting has waned, and the urge to rock the fuck out has taken hold. This manifests itself in a few different ways. “The Sign of the Trident” rides the band’s punchy, upright “Procreation (of the Wicked)” meets “Harvester of Sorrow” stompgroove. Tracks like “Commando” and “Die By My Hand” spew violence and venom, concerned with little other than a Frost-inflicted ass-whipping. And “Black Crow on a Tombstone” shares the traits of both, but places the heavy hand of emphasis on a stadium-shaking hook.
Actually, who the fuck do I think I’m kidding? Most of these songs sound almost exactly the same. When taken in 3-4 track doses, it’s obvious thatThe Age of Nero is Satyricon’s black n’ roll crown jewel; it isn’t loaded with the filler that plagued their previous stabs. But the super-predictable nature of these songs (‘Iconic’ Satyr riff—> Frost fill—> snarling vocal line—> prolonged ‘atmospheric’ breakdown—> ‘Iconic’ Satyr riff—>repeatrepeatrepeat) kinda saps some of the power from the punches they pack. Despite some absolutely killer moments, it’s hard to listen to what essentially amounts to one gigantic song for an entire hour.
Taxing as it may be, the band has finally mastered their current craft and completed their rock-star metamorphosis (scope Satyr’s full-on Andrew Eldritch impersonation in the “Black Crow on a Tombstone” vid for evidence). But speaking for the entire metal communtity…we get it, guys. You rock. So how ’bout throwing us a curveball next time?
Just don’t go all Vision Thing on us.