Sound — 8
Don't be surprised if even the most baby fine hairs on the back of your neck or along your arms stand on end when listening to Satyricon's utterly demonic The Age of Nero. Satyricon, lead by the always nefarious vocalist Satyr (who wasn't even an original member) and drummer Frost, eschew the wink-wink, nudge-nudge element of Satanism and the dark arts that other black metal bands traffic in. The duo also keeps a lid on the atmospheric keyboards that are a black metal hallmark; rather than allowing the sampling and melodies of the instrument to overtake the music, Satyricon uses keys in a much more subtle and ultimately effective method. As far as black metal bands go, Satyricon are the real deal, firing off occult-themed anthems like nuclear warheads on The Age of Nero. There band avoids the shitty, recorded in a tin can production quality that a plethora of its peers prefer in favor of a crisper, relatively speaking, sound. Here, there are plenty of vicious riffs that are the sonic equivalent of receiving a pair of brass knuckles across the face, but for the most part, Satyr and Frost focus on the groove, which the long hairs always love. The Wolfpack and a both feature rolling, Pantera-like guitar work, which makes the songs, dare I say, accessible? The diehards and elitists needn't worry, however; Satyricon maintains that kvlt black metal quality on The Age of Nero. It's a nasty, gnarly record from start to finish, with a percussive thunder that's almost militaristic in nature, thanks to the kinetic energy produced by Frost's blast beats, hair-on-fire drumming and Satyr's stormy riffs.
Lyrics — 8
It wouldn't be a black metal record without lyrics that are steered by an interest in mysticism and that reference other assorted dark topics and things, like crows, bloody sin, snow-covered mountains, demons, daggers and other predatory issues. Satyr barks as though he gargled with a cocktail of rubbing alcohol, vinegar, whiskey and razor blades before spewing and spitting his lyrics with the sort of venom normally reserved for those who occupy the depths of hell. It's not so much what Satyr is singing about that intrigues the listener; it's how he sings in, in a uniquely throaty shriek that can leave those with weak constitutions cowering in the corner. Satyr screams as though possessed by Lucifer and it more than fits the music that he and Frost have designed to be so thoroughly blackened and of course, completely metallic. The Age of Nero doesn't go the Christ-hating route either. Rather, the band spins slightly more generic tales of the occult and the underworld. The most brilliant thing about The Age of Nero? The CD tray card boasts the phrase, When it is dark enough, you can see the stars. It's food for thought, especially for those who may steer clear of black metal for its Satanic associations. So start chomping!
Overall Impression — 8
Sure, the purists may call attention to the fact that Satyricon aren't as bone chilling or as godless as other church burning Scandinavian black metallists. That doesn't change the fact that The Age of Nero is sonically blacker than ash and blends all of the genre's necessary ingredients into a cohesive record that doesn't scrimp on brutality. Black metal takes a step forward thanks to Satyricon on this album.