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I don't care how you want to spin it. I don't care if there are several remastered songs. I don't care if there's a fat, pretty booklet with lots of grim pictures words from the Artist himself. Ten Horns - Ten Diadems is yet another example of crass and wholly unnecessary commercialism from an artist who you'd think might shun the very idea of the thing. By 2002, Satyricon had certainly carved out a name for itself and placed itself upon a pedestal. The world of black metal neophytes was theirs to win or lose, and their progressively more rock-oriented outings would either alienate the traditional genre fans of their first three records or win them droves of new admirers thanks to increasing visibility and video play.
So I have to wonder, why bother with this? This wasn't released through some major, faceless corporate entity, but Moonfog Productions itself! Granted, they did a better job on the package than you'd expect from a garbage Roadrunner or Relativity comp, and they bothered to include one previously unreleased song. But seriously...10 horns. 10 diadems. 10 songs? Why not make this a fucking double-disc. Or hell, why not just re-issue the first two albums Dark Medieval Times and The Shadowthrone, entirely remastered, in one package with all of the added visual splendors, notes and bonus tracks. THAT might be something to throw down a 20 spot on, but this is just a meek sampling of things that the Satyricon fan already owns. The remastered cuts are "Taakeslottet" (Dark Medieval Times), "Dominions of Satyricon" (The Shadowthrone) and "Night of Divine Power" (Megiddo EP, a remake of "Dark Castle in the Deep Forest") and while brighter than their original incarnations, they lose a bit of their grisly, original edge.
It feels that they were remastered simply to bring them up to the standards of the newer material that was included here. Speaking of which, we are given "Forhekset" and"Mother North" from Nemesis Divina (1996), "Hvite Krists Død" from The Shadowthrone (1994, strangely not remastered), and then two tracks from their most recent full-length at the time, Rebel Extravaganza (1999): "Filthgrinder" and "Supersonic Journey". Closing this out, they've included one song off the new full-length Volcano that would also release in 2002: "Repined Bastard Nation". Admittedly, there are some great songs in this bunch, but I already owned them all, and it's hard not to feel a little ripped off. What's worse, the unreleased track "Serpent's Rise" is little more than some spoken narrative (male and female) over a dissonance, early atmospheric riff and then some baseless, boring chugging riff. Not hard to see why this would not rate inclusion on one of the full-lengths...
In short, this sucks. Tremendously. Who the fuck is it for? Is it meant to ween the tween initiate onto the teats of Satyr and Frost? Couldn't they just buy Nemesis Divina and work it all out for themselves?
Satyricon are the current whipping boys of black metal. You don’t have to look far to find deep-seated resentment against the duo from black metal fans. One can only guess why. There’s more bitchiness amongst metal aficionados and critics than in jazz and classical combined. If you read the critics first and took them seriously you wouldn’t listen to any of the music and that would be a tragedy.
Satyricon are branded ‘cash whores’, having sold out to … well, I’m not sure but the accusation sticks like mud the same as it does in punk, indie and other less mainstream subgenres of rock. That, plus Satyr’s alleged inclination towards expensive designer couture, should be enough to see the duo off … but for the music.
If you want an introduction to Satyricon, look no further than this excellent collection. I love compilations, especially glossy productions like this one. Even if you enjoy the music and then go collect every album sampled, the compilation is still worth keeping for the presentation and artwork. “Ten Horns” features a track or two from nearly every stage of the band's history up to and including “Volcano”. The tracks are not arranged chronologically but to create the best possible program. And what a great program it is.
There is no doubt, from the opening track, that Satyricon are a black metal band. Yet within that narrow definition, this compilation shows the duo’s diversity. Not afraid to experiment, they create very listenable and, at times, even uplifting pieces that could almost on occasion be labelled “prog” were it not for the ever-present snowstorm blast so characteristic of the best of black. Few other black metal bands can match Satyricon’s extensive creative palette.
The best of black metal really swings. Think about Darkthrone when Fenriz kicks into those romping triplet feels and you’ll know what I mean. Well, Frost is Fenriz’ equal in shifting tempos from heads-down, four-on-the-floor rock to hyperkinetic blast beats to swaggering swing and polka. It’s one of the great delights and defining characteristics of black metal and Satyricon do it at least as well as the best of the rest.
Ignore the critics. Immerse yourself in one of the better classic black metal bands with this compilation. I’m listening to it as I type and glad I spent the money. If you enjoy Immortal, Thorns and Darkthrone you shouldn’t go past it.