Radical, twisted, vicious, and progressive, SATYRICON celebrates over 10 years of operation with this elaborately packaged 10-song collection. While a career retrospective usually works better when the songs run in chronological sequence, Ten Horns – Ten Diadems messes all that up by fusing the futuristic hyperblast of 1999's "Supersonic Journey" up against 1993's "Taakeslottet". And so it goes until the ninth and tenth tracks, being new compositions exclusive to this release.
You won't hear me calling SATYRICON's first couple efforts "breathtaking" or "essential." By 1993, DARKTHRONE, BURZUM, EMPEROR and MAYHEM had already laid that gauntlet down (and few have matched those seminal releases even today). It's been a slow evolution for this band, but by the time of 1995's Nemesis Divina, they became not only contenders but visionaries in their own right. All the expected tracks are here—"Mother North", "Forhekset" and "Filthgrinder"—the only questionable exclusions being Rebel Extravaganza's lead-off masterpiece "Tied In Bronze Chains" and anthem "Prime Evil Renaissance", both better songs than "Filthgrinder" (but nobody came to us when they compiled this thing, did they?).
The new tracks signal mind-numbing things to come. "Serpent's Rise" was recorded exclusively for this collection, and it's a chilling three minutes. Thundering drums (courtesy of the at-times-inhuman Frost) slowly crescendo while a female questions and a male answers, the dialogue being of a particularly cryptic nature. Slabs of guitar-drone seethe and seep throughout the track, which basically acts as an intro for the next song, a preview of the forthcoming Volcano album entitled "Repined Bastard Nation". The verses and general movement of "Repined…" feel awkward, but maybe this is the intended emotion, everything laid out cold, boxy and claustrophobic. Nevertheless, power drips off the song in truckloads. Volcano will surely be highly anticipated once existing fans lay ears around this mammoth track. (Headphones recommended, because new SATYRICON material generally means state-of-the-art black metal production standards, and these new tracks qualify.)
In the end, this is still a compilation, and that's where the appeal is more limited than if this were a new studio work. But you still get a lot for your money. Even the box that houses the CD is top-notch: typically high-quality artwork from the Moonfog stable (by Superlow and Satyr), photos showcasing the band's sharp visual edge, even a four-panel teaser booklet for Volcano. And goddamn, it looks like Volcano is being released on Capitol Records (in Europe only, presumably). No joke. A first for not only SATYRICON, but the entire black metal genre. They may not become the METALLICA of black metal, but they're a fine example for the unfamiliar masses to grapple with and one for the initiated to be proud of.