Roel de Haan : Two years since 'Now, Diabolical' have past and the great Satyricon returns with their seventh full-length album called 'The Age Of Nero'. I'll admit that I overestimated 'Now, Diabolical'. I was overwhelmed by the four year hiatus and extreme catchiness of the album, the same catchiness that grew old quite soon. Even though I consider 'Now Diabolical' the weakest release within the Satyricon discography I wouldn't go as far as some of the anonymous internet detractors out there.
So Satyricon has some damage control or even repairing to do with this new album. Luckily, the conclusion is positive. 'The Age Of Nero' sounds fresher, more spontaneous and most importantly, less predictable and definitely more black metal. It seems that Satyr took a long and good look at his own material and came up with new songs that have parts reminiscent of other songs. I wouldn't go as far as saying that he ripped off his own work but rather that he got more in touch with the Satyricon of old.
So we hear bits of 'Forhekset's aggression in the opening song 'Commando' which is a very brutal song and gets you in the mood soon, and we hear quirky riffs in 'Black Crow On A Tombstone', reminding me of 'A Moment Of Clarity' from the masterpiece that is 'Rebel Extravaganza' and in 'The Wolfpack' we can detect similarities to the 'Black Lava' of 'Volcano' although this song is one-third its length. Satyricon delves even further into their past with 'Den Siste' which vaguely harbours some 'The Shadowthrone' elements. So 'The Age Of Nero' is instantly recognizable as Satyricon with strong material and gained complexity compared to 'Now, Diabolical' although not to the level of 'Rebel Extravaganza' or 'Nemesis Divina'. What we have here is a return to form by the masters of disharmony. I'm sure this won't be a classic release but it is still a very significant and excellent outing that definitely has its fair share of moments of genius splendour and is very enjoyable throughout. I would say that this is the album they should have made after 'Volcano'. 'The Age Of Nero' may not be as innovative as their first four albums but is sure to get your head nodding with approval.