Released: 2003, Candlelight Records
Reviewer: Lord of the Wasteland
The Norwegian black metal scene in the early to mid-90s was an interesting one. From church burnings to petty crimes to outright murder, the scene itself was often the topic of discussion more than the music itself. Mayhem is often credited as the “godfathers” of black metal but in over 10 years, the band has only released ONE studio album (1994’s DE MYSTERIIS DOM SATHANAS) and, in my opinion, it is AWFUL (my apologies to the black metal hordes but before you get your capes in a knot, it’s just my opinion). The true pioneer of the Norwegian black metal scene is Emperor. While they also had their share of controversy and run-ins with the authorities, Emperor still managed to be prolific and release interesting music. After 10 years and 5 full-length albums, Emperor packed it in in 2002.
SCATTERED ASHES: A DECADE OF EMPERIAL WRATH encapsulates the band over 2 CDs and nearly 2 ½ hours of music. The first CD (the “Black” disc) features favorites from the band’s studio albums (and one live track), while the second (the “Silver” disc) is filled with rarities, b-sides and cover songs. Overall, the package offers an excellent introduction to the band while giving the die-hard fan a reason to drop their hard-earned shekels, as well. An excellent fold-out booklet is included which contains some excellent photos, a band history, as well as a complete discography.
From the harsh, early recordings of “Wrath of the Tyrant” to the more experimental turn of “Tongue of Fire”, all aspects of the band’s career are covered on the “Black disc”. I’m happy to see that “I Am The Black Wizards”, “With Strength I Burn”, “Curse You All Men!”, “Inno A Satana” and “The Loss & Curse of Reverance” are included as these are my personal favorites. My only complaint is that I could have done without the live version of “Thus Spake The Nightspirit” and had the studio version from 1997’s ANTHEMS TO THE WELKIN AT DUSK instead. Live versions are never as good as the original and such is the case here, as well. The “Silver disc” has some treats on it as well. The Bathory and Mercyful Fate tributes (“A Fine Day To Die” and “Gypsy”, respectively) are real highlights. “I Am” and “Sworn (Remix)” border on techno and are certainly out of place. The two songs from the AS THE SHADOWS RISE E.P. (“The Ancient Queen” and “Witches’ Sabbath”) are a great addition to this set. Most people outside of the band’s inner circle are unfamiliar with these excellent tracks so they will finally be heard by a broader audience. The Mayhem cover is the low-point on this disc. I don’t like Mayhem, but I will give Emperor credit that they made a spot-on recreation of the dreadful vocals and muddy sound of the original.
SCATTERED ASHES: A DECADE OF EMPERIAL WRATH is an excellent retrospective of Emperor’s music. Of course, there will be arguments that this song should have been included and that song has no business there, but overall, Emperor has really given fans something to sink their teeth into.