Satyricon - The Age Of Nero
One of the longer running Norwegian black metal bands, Satyricon is an outfit I was previously unfamiliar with leading up to The Age Of Nero. While I've always had a fondness for BM, especially the brand I've discovered Satyricon to specialize in, I had always ignored their releases, making the mistake of believing friends who found their style bland and uninspired. While they're definitely taking pages from the books of Bathory and Darkthrone in particular with their minimalistic, muddy and frost-bitten metal, on The Age of Nero they sound like true perfectionists of the sound.
Mostly riding mid-paced grooves created to make your palms sweat and teeth rattle, what perpels the tracks towards true catchiness and appeal is the creatively penned riffage of frontman/everything-man Satyr and also the driving, no-holds-barred style of black metal journeyman Frost behind the kit. His work with 1349 made a fan out of me, and he continues to impress here, taking otherwise decent tracks like "Commando" and "Die By My Hand" and lifting them to new heights. The song that immediatly grabbed my attention, and truly the best of the bunch is "BNlack Crow on a Tombstone", featuring some interesting tempo changes and a sudden progression midway through that'll knock you back in your seat. The only regret is that most of the album seems to plod along, when the flashes of ingenuity disappear, all that's left your standard "kvlt" black metal, the frosty mid-paced blastbeats and buzzsaw riffage.
What gives The Age of Nero such a high score from me, however, is that it's consistent. You won't hear any forays into majestic, power metal-esque symphonic elements or anything truly unusual. While the metal is sometimes supplemented by more of a black-rock approach, overall this is an album most BM fans will want in their collections. Most impressive element? The work of Frost, who, next to the infamous Hellhammer has to be seen as one of the pioneers of black metal drum work. Without any frame of reference in regards to their back catalog, I can't say where this fits but I've heard varying reports from "same old same old and losing it's impact" to "same old same old and it still works for me". Sorta like the AC/DC of Black Metal. If you've ever enjoyed a Bathory or Darkthrone record, give these guys a shot.
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