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Swagger and roll with the 'Con - 90%

blackoz, November 11th, 2006

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.