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Well, it had to happen sooner or later, a posthumous compilation album for one of Norway's most infamous bands, coming a few years after the (temporary?) closing of their creative gates. That Scattered Ashes: A Decade of Empereal Wrath is viewed as one of the finer collections of its type only speaks volumes of the respect held for Emperor. Sadly, it speaks far more of that than the actual content. Don't get me wrong, Candlelight and Emperor have gone all out to give the fans great cover art, packaging and a metric ton of material. Two discs spanning nearly 2 and a half hours of content, drawn from a large variety of sources. Problem is...most of this band's fans will already have these original works (at least the studio full-lengths) and, thus, much of this is mere redundancy for profit.
So this is another one of those deals where they offer a disc of the more common, album material up front. Disc One jumps around between the four studio albums with few exceptions, not all splayed out in any chronological order, but in an attempt to establish and maintain momentum, like some mix tape you might excitedly make for a friend or girlfriend. The exceptions here would be "Wrath of the Tyrant" and "Thus Spake the Nightspirit", the former being recalled from the band's demo days and the latter from Emperial Live Ceremony. Otherwise, though, you get a good chunk of In the Nightside Eclipse ("The Majesty of the Nightsky", "Cosmic Keys to My Creations and Time", "I Am the Black Wizards", "Inno a Satana") and Anthems to the Welkin at Dusk ("The Loss and Curse of Reverence", "With Strength I Burn" and "Ye Entracemperium"), and a smaller peppering of cuts from their more recent works IX Equilibrium ("Curse You All Men!", "An Elegy of Icaros") and Prometheus ("The Tongue of Fire" and "In the Wordless Chamber").
Nothing wrong with the quality or 'flow' of these selections, but regardless it's a pretty fucking useless start to what might have otherwise been a consistent gathering of rarities. Most of these, of course, make it onto the second disc, which is by far going to be more valuable to the majority of fans who own most of the studio albums, but might not have had access to their demos and EPs. The first segment contains a handful of covers, most of which have appeared elsewhere. For instance, "Aerie Descent" was on the Thorns vs. Emperor split; Bathory's "A Fine Day to Die" and Mercyful Fate's "Gypsy" were on the re-issues of In the Nightside Eclipse. But there are also some compilation tracks here which are scarcer, like their seething rendition of Mayhem's "Funeral Fog" with its splatter-blasting intensity (A Tribute to Mayhem: Originators of the Northern Darkness) or the very best of the bunch, an amazing version of Darkthrone's old school cut "Cromlech" done up in all Emperor's enormous, airy grandeur. I had not heard that before so I was quite thrilled.
Then there's a small sequence of more electronically infused material that include their "I Am" deconstruction from Thorns vs. Emperor, and the hectic Ulver remix of "Sworn" which was on the digipack release of IX Equilibrium, and sounds frankly like crap in this spastic gabber form. The rest of the contents of Scattered Ashes are all EP and demo tracks. As the Shadows Rise (1994) and the non-album tracks off Reverence (1996) are included in their entirety, and the selection is rounded out by "My Empire's Doom" and "Moon Over Kara-Khehr", which are largely the worst produced on the album, the latter being a rehearsal. In all, this is a far more justified use of compilation space, since the target audience might not actually own a bunch of these pieces, though I would maintain that, for the ardent collector, there's nothing new under the sun. But for those people, they'd likely just buy this for the logo on the cover and keep it in the shrink wrap.
Ultimately, Scattered Ashes had nothing to offer me beyond the Darkthrone cover, and that's only because I never bothered to pick up that Moonfog tribute compilation Darkthrone Holy Darkthrone, which I'd much rather do than buy this. This is packaged well, and it includes a boat load of content, but so much of it has been redundant. Pretty, but empty plastic. I'm not sure if Emperor had some other pieces floating around from their later years. Maybe demos for new songs, or stuff that never made it onto Prometheus, or even some experiments, but that would have made for a far more valuable first disc than what we ended up with. Scattered Ashes might be fine for some random n00b just getting into the band, but even then I'd turn he or she to their full-length debut where the band has always been and will always be best experienced. Not shy on content, but in essence, this feels like one of those releases translating to: a safe, guaranteed payday for all involved.
If you're new to black metal and are curious about the dynamic changes from one of Norway's most influential bands over the span of their career, Scattered Ashes would be a great place to start. This is a very complete compilation, consisting of highlights from their full length albums, covers, live versions, rehearsals, old demos, and random tracks that have been released before, but are a lot more difficult to dig up because the EP's they appear on are quite rare. For two CD's as the price of one, you get an incredible representation of nearly everything Emperor has done over the years and a great deal.
The first CD consists of tracks that appeared on full length albums. It's a bit more biased towards their black metal days (9 tracks out of 13) compared to when they started pumping out symphonic extreme metal with their last two albums, but most people prefer Emperor's middle and earlier work anyway. Among the listed tracks are classics like The Majesty of the Nightsky, Inno A Satana, With Strength I Burn, and Wrath of the Tyrant - classic songs that no Emperor fan, or even black metal fan, should go on without hearing. The songs they chose from their later discography are somewhat the better ones from that era - In the Wordless Chamber is still a decent song.
But the real treat and reason I bought the album has to do with that second CD. As I said earlier, most of these tracks are rare because they only appear elsewhere on EP's that are no longer in print or as bonus tracks on full length additions that are tougher to find. The Mayhem cover never gets old and the Mercyful Fate cover, albeit a bit strange with the vocal effects, is fun to listen to. I would even go as far to say that many of these covers are better than their original versions and if you thought Ihsahn always sounded the same, he really does a good job adjusting his vocals to the music the band is trying to cover. Another highlight is the awesome rehearsal of "Moon over Kara-Shehr" - I don't even think they have any other versions of this. The horrible production makes it an intense song and there are even some death growls in it. It's a unique song from a band like Emperor. The techno-based remix of Sworn is even better than the original, which was too choppy sounding.
My only problems with this compilation have to do with personal and nitpicky preferences. For example, my two favorite metal tracks from "Anthems..." were the ones omitted from this compilation. Also, I prefer the weaker versions of I am the Black Wizards and Cosmic Keys... found on Wrath of the Tyrant because I can imagine a much more potent atmosphere. It also skips my favorite Emperor song 'Into the Infinity of Thoughts' but I guess you can't everything there. Since that's just me, I won't hold it against the album because the tracks they did include are still fantastic. For those who like to collect paraphernalia, you might be a little disappointed to see that the booklet doesn't really come with additional band history or random trivia. I thought things like that would be a cool add-on for a compilation.
Overall, there will be some songs on this compilation that you consider to be worthless and there will be some songs that you wish were on here, but aren't, but at the end of the day, it's a very complete representation of the type of work Emperor has done over their ten year career. I think an album like this is necessary as a clincher for their successful life as a band - one last hurrah before going to the status of defunct. I would definitely recommend this if you're a big fan of Emperor but never got around to hearing their less known tracks that are on rarer releases, or if you never got around to checking out Emperor, but you weren't sure where to start. Either way, at least one of the CD's should entertain you well enough, and considering you get both for the price of one, it's one of the better deals out there.
Ah yes, the godfathers of symphonic black metal, Emperor, are a band very well known in the darker regions of underground metal. Most famous for their genre defining debut album (and black metal masterpiece) In The Nightside Eclipse, the band even to this day remain a behemoth in the heavy metal music. Even before the band reunited to play those three amazing shows a few months back, Emperor had left us a special present to remember them by. That present is Scattered Ashes: A Decade Of Emperial Wrath, a compilation package that contains 2 discs of pure Satanic madness. Disc 1 (the black disc) contains the band's greatest hits, including Curse You All Men!, Wrath Of The Tyrant, I Am The Black Wizards, and a live recording of Thus Spake The Nightspirit. Disc 2 (the silver disc) contained a bunch of Emperor rarities, b-sides, and cover songs such as their Darkthrone, Mayhem, Mercyful Fate (and more) cover songs, an Ulver remix of Sworn, the rare demos of Wrath Of A Tyrant, and songs from the ultra rare EP As The Shadows Rise.
Highlights Of The Black Disc:
This disc contains the greatest hits from all of Emperor's official album releases. Curse You All Men! from their album IX Equilibrium kicks off the disc. The song's sheer aggressive power, fury, and atmosphere is enough for anyone new to Emperor to drop their mouth in awe. The track also shows all of Emperor's strong points that make them the black metal kings that they are, which are the unforgiving, brutal guitar riffs, keyboard and symphonic backdrop melody, brilliant black metal screeching, haunting clean vocals, and punishing blast beats. Another noticeable track is The Majesty Of The Nightsky from Emperor's classic In The Nightside Eclipse. The song's only weak point is it's noticeable poor drum production quality, but that aside, the song has some powerful guitar work and blistering black metal vocals and beautiful symphonic melody that show why In The Nightside Eclipse is considered a classic. Amazing guitar solos and haunting symphonic atmosphere drives the epic The Loss And Curse Of Reverence which is from the album Anthems To The Welkin At Dusk. The song has a very epic feel and some of the best arranges orchestration from any Emperor song.
It would be blasphemy to the unholy lords of black metal not to add the amazing I Am The Black Wizards from In The Nightside Eclipse on this list. The song is easily Emperor's unholy anthem. The song flow and instrumentation arrangements are amazing, being both fast and hard yet slow, dark and haunting. Probably the greatest Emperor song ever made. The live track of Thus Spake The Nightspirit from the band's live album Emperial Live Ceremony shows that the band is even more amazing live. The music's atmosphere on this live track is perfect, and the musicianship flawless. The orchestration is also a lot easier to hear on this song then it is on any of the normal recordings of Emperor songs. In The Wordless Chamber from Emperor's final album, Prometheus - The Discipline Of Fire is the last of the truly epic and powerful Emperor songs on the album. The vocal arrangements on the song is brilliant, with Ihsahn doing a lot of his beautiful operatic singing. The song also has one of the best atmospheric breakdowns off of any of the Emperor tracks on the album.
Highlights Of The Silver Disc:
The first track, A Fine Day To Die off of the In Conspiracy With Satan Tribute album, begins with soft atmospheric guitar work and haunting singing from Ihsahn. The song the ascends into some amazing melodic black metal riffs and blast beat grooves, making the song a perfect tribute to symphonic black metal and one of the most epic songs previously unreleased by Emperor. The Mercyful Fate cover song, Gypsy is done perfectly as Ihsahn imitates the infamous King Diamond's haunting fawcetta singing. Although the song is one of the shortest tracks Emperor has ever done, they still managed to pull off an epic feeling track with great guitar work. Thus the band (aside from the vocals) basically made the Mercyful Fate song one of their own. I Am is probably the most industrial sounding track that could still be considered black metal. The haunting intro alone would capture any listener for it's creepy beats and ambiance. What makes the song so great is how different and original it sounds, sounding more or less like a remix sound off of Isis's Oceanic: Remixes And Reinterpretations. Another interesting thing about the track is the fact it sounds like Emperor took on a Mike Patton influence for the song.
The Ulver remix of Sworn is also a twisted song of pure chaos, only much faster. The production is something to be said for, but the intense fury of turntables mixed in with the fury of the blast beats and scratchy guitar work makes the perfect sound of what I call pure and utter mayhem. The last really noticeable track is The Longing Spirit from the rare mini album Reverence. The track is another perfect example of symphonic orchestration and black metal atmospheres that influence bands like Dimmu Borgir and Old Man's Child. The song has some amazing vocal work and guitar work as well. Overall making the silver disc of Scattered Ashes: A Decade Of Emperial Wrath an experience all it's own.
THIS WAS ORIGINALLY WRITTEN FOR SPUTNIKMUSIC.COM
It's tradition in any circle of music to put out a collection of an artist's choice material out for the masses directly following the band's demise. Most only give the "big" points of the band's career, others give the lesser-known moments, and some collections are just altogether weird. "Scattered Ashes" falls somewhere in between the first two.
Firstly, I think this collection was released entirely too soon after Emperor's initial break-up. "Scattered Ashes" was released sometime in 2003, only a mere two years after the band's split. More time should have been given to let some of the shock die down, and also to put together a better compilation. I get the hint that this collection is Candlelight's dirty little way of raping Emperor's corpse, especially with the wealth of useless material on Disc 2, and what seems like a lack of making any effort to make "Scattered Ashes" a true monument to the band. (Ex: No lyrics, no liner notes, etc.) If Emperor wouldn't have regrouped, (But thank God they did.) 2005 or 2006 would have been the perfect time to put this out. Releasing a compilation of the band's career only 2 years after their swansong album was definitely a bad call.
On the upside though, this is a great starting point for newbies to the band. There's a significant wealth from all of the band's stages, all the way from the original "Wrath of the Tyrant" demo to the band's last album, Prometheus. Disc 1 highlights all of the band's major releases, especially "Anthems..." and "In the Nightside Eclipse." Only two songs each are taken from "IX Equilibrium" and "Prometheus," which I was rather disappointed in. (Where the fuck are "Warriors of Modern Death" and "Sworn"?!) It seems like the tracks from "In the Nightside Eclipse" also underwent some re-mixing; the guitars seem clearer, the drums louder, and the vocals mixed more towards the front of the mix. The same can be said of the tracks from "Anthems..." as well.
Unfortunately, Disc 2 is one of the big downfalls of this collection, due to the lack of entertaining and worthwhile listening material. The band's take on the Mayhem classic "Funeral Fog" is quite interesting, and the unreleased tracks from the "As the Shadows Rise" EP, re-recorded from the "Wrath of the Tyrant," are pretty goddamn mean as well. Otherwise, Disc 2 is useless, featuring countless unreleased tracks, cover songs, and a quasi-industrial remix of "Sworn" by Ulver.
The other thing that takes away from this collection is the lack of band history. No liner notes are given, no lyrics... only pictures of the band from different eras of their career. Quite a letdown, don't you think? You would think that a band's post-career chronology would shed light on inner aspects of the band; not so in this collection.
If you're already a fan of the band and own even half of their discography, don't bother with this. Newbies, however, should at least give this a glance.
Well what can I say? In this album there is compiled in what my opinion is one of the greatest legacy of metal. Ihsahn and company created among their relatively short career one of the most complex and inspiring albums that the world have ever heard (with Anthems leading the list). As is obvious to suppose its impossible even for the masters to don’t have detractors and Emperor can be labeled in very different forms from “betraying the true essence of Black Metal” to “another cookie monster crap band” nevertheless it’s relevance in the metal community cannot be denied. But in my opinion the albums that they recorded are not only high quality music but a testimony of the power and imagination of these creative Norwegian minds that transcended the boundaries of music and unearth the secrets and essence of a metaphysic and misanthropic chaos.
The track list will not please the taste of all the fans, but all the material that Emperor recorded show the virtuosity of the band along with thoughtful compositions, sophistication and attention to detail while conserving the ruthless sonorous storm. So it must not be a problem even if your favorite one is not included. And if that is not enough the album has two cd’s, one with the “greatest hits” and another with more rare stuff, standing out the cover of “A Fine Day To Die” (surely Quorthon would be proud), together exceeding in duration 140 minutes!
This album is great for a first approach to Emperor, but if you liked it is imperative that you get the other albums, because all the songs are strokes of a great picture, and their full potential and meaning (musical, sentimental and intellectually) can only be revealed in company of the rest.
The Emperor is dead, long live the Emperor!
For those who do not want to go out and buy all their albums, or those who have never heard of the mighty Emperor, this compilation serves as an excellent introduction. It is also great for those who are already Emperor fans as it contains some rare tracks.
The first CD is a "greatest hits" of sorts. It contains classic Emperor songs from each album. The only problem I have with this disc (and why I gave it a 99 instead of 100) is that it is not in chronological order. There is a definite evolution to the band that you can hear from listening to their albums, but the tracklist on Scattered Ashes skips around a bit. Songs such as "Cosmic Keys to My Creations and Times", "I Am the Black Wizards", "Ye Entrancemperium", "Thus Spake the Nightspirit", and "An Elegy of Icaros" really highlight the band's career.
The second CD contains the 'rare' tracks and covers. All the covers are incredible. However, the left off a cover they did of the Celtic Frost song "Massacra". I say 'rare' in quotation marks because the tribute albums that these songs appeared on are readily available on eBay, and most of them were put as bonus tracks on re-releases. Also on this disc are 2 of the 3 tracks from the As the Shadows Rise 7" that has long been out of print. However, all 3 tracks are available on the True Kings of Norway split. The last 2 tracks are from the Reverence EP which was included as bonus songs on the reissues of Anthems to the Welkin at Dusk. So the only really rare track is the rehearsal track of "Moon Over Kara-Shehr" and maybe the remixes (the Ulver one is available on some versions of IX Equilibrium). What is good about this disc though is that it puts all these tracks from compilations, EPs, etc. onto one disc, so you don't have to shuffle through several CDs and/or vinyls to listen to all the songs.
I highly recommend this CD to any fan of black metal.
Scattered Ashes: A Decade of Emperial Wrath is the perfect introduction to Emperor, or the perfect way to complete the die-hard fan’s collection. Candlelight really put together an awesome package here. It consists of a best-of disc and a covers/rarities disc. The artwork is well done, with a collection of band photos dating from the corpsepaint days to the modern ones.
The best-of disc has probably the best compilation of Emperor songs possible. At 74 minutes, everything vital was included. Thankfully, the emphasis is on the first two full lengths. Only two songs each off IX Equilibrium and Prometheus were included, and the best off of those two. The Tongue of Fire is probably one of my top five Emperor songs. The songs are also put in a logical progression. The series of Majesty of the Nightsky, Cosmic Keys, and Wrath of the Tyrant flows very well. The way the explosion at the end of Majesty carries into the demo version of Cosmic Keys shows that they really put some effort into making this sound good. The live version of Thus Spake the Nightspirit is also noteworthy. Otherwise, all your other favorites from the first two albums are here. I find that I’ll pop this disc into my player over their albums at times. It’s really a great collection
The second disc features some of the best covers I’ve ever heard. Emperor basically destroys the original version of every one of these songs. Most notably, the Gypsy cover makes Mercyful Fate sound incredibly dated. Emperor added some keyboards and sped up the song a lot. The Funeral Fog cover is better than Mayhem, and they use the Freezing Moon intro as the outro of the song. Very well done. I Am and Sworn are both more electronic pieces. I like them both. I Am has a lot of samples from older songs, and it’s fun to see how many you can pick out. The rest of the second disc is demo tracks which can also be found on the Wrath of the Tyrant/Emperor split.
Overall, I found this to be a great pickup. For around $12, you get a lot of great music. For the longtime fan, there might still be enough here to justify a purchase. For a newbie, this is essential listening. Long live the Emperor!
This is, of course, a compilation album of two discs featuring some of Emperor's very best work and cover songs. It's great for newcomers to Emperor and veteran fans alike.
On to the music, this album is worth buying just for the live version of 'Thus Spake The Nightspirit' alone. What an incredible fucking song, especially live.
The Black Disc contains Emperor's best, with everything from ancient BM they must have recorded in a fucking basement to their technical and heavily produced work off Prometheus. You can't go wrong with this disc, it has everything from everything for everybody.
The Silver disc is also a treat. You can hear the boys covering songs froom Mayhem to King Diamond. (Note: The Techno remix of Sworn is a disgrace. Avoid at all costs!)
Buy this album just to complete your Emperor collection if for no other reason. In my opinion though, it's well worth the money.
To sum up the following review in a few words, this is a great album. This is, understandably, a compilation of Emperor's best songs, so it's great for those new to Emperor.
Most of the songs have pretty nekro production, leaving them sounding a bit staticy. This is not a detriment, however, due to the excellent songwriting. There are two songs off Prometheus, which, despite good production, are worse than the others.
Ihsahn's vocals range from demonic shrieks, to Diamondesque screams, to clean (almost prophetic), to spoken. In all the cases, they are good in context - screams for the intro to the first song; shrieks to go along with the chaotic guitars and drums; clean vocals to show a time of revelation or shift in the lyrical flow; and spoken parts for narration, or lyrics that are given special significance.
The flow of most songs is chaotic with plenty of blastbeats (which are used throughout most of the songs, but are never out of context), energized riffs, and a whole lot of ferocity. There are breaks in some songs where keyboards are more prevalent, to change the mood, but they are never predictable. To an untrained ear, the songs might sound the same, but past the bad production and utter dissonance are beautiful melodies. The riffs tend to be pretty complex and varied, and the song structures are original.
The two songs that I have some trouble enjoying are the two off Prometheus. They sound overdone and are just plain boring at some parts.
The best song on here is probably With Strength I Burn, both musically and lyrically. It travels through three distinct musical sequences, and is epic as all hell. I am surprised and slightly dismayed that Thorns on my Grave is not on here, as it is the best song off Prometheus.
I cannot really comment on the covers, for I have not heard most of originals, but they are definitely pleasant to listen to. Regardless, I would have bought this album for the Best Of alone.
I've always liked Emperor, but not enough to spend a hundred dollars buying all their albums so this seemed like the ideal purchase for me.
I listened to this album once with headphones and I got a headache. A day later I listened to it on speakers and it was a fun experience.
The difference between Emperor's newer and older songs is obvious. The newer songs are well-polished and tend to get boring. While the older songs have worse than shit production and they fucking rule!
The misc/covers on disc 2 are all really good. Some better than their original stuff.
Ihsahn's vocals are pretty damn good throughout (he's no Garm though).
The guitars are scathing and atmospheric on their early works (which I like). While the guitars on their newest songs seem to be going all over the place, "Disharmonic Wankery" is a term I've heard used to describe this.
Bass? What bass? I don't really care about bass anyway.
The drumming is good throughout, lots of blastbeats and double bass with some mid tempo stuff thrown in for variety.
The absolute best tracks are: I am the Black Wizards, Thus Spake the Nightspirit (these guys are damn good live), In The Wordless Chamber.
The cover art is another thing I thought I should mention - it's fucking amazing.
This is a good buy for anyone new to Emperor and not interested in collecting all their albums. Long time Emperor fans should probably stay away from this though - its pretty pointless if you already have all their albums... Unless you like the cover art as much as I do.