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As Norwegian black-metal albums go, Satyricon were a little late to the party. By the time they released their full-length debut, Dark Medieval Times, in 1994, Darkthrone already had four albums out, Burzum had three and Immortal had two. But like all those bands, Satyricon would take the genre in exciting new directions, eventually touring with Pantera and becoming the first black-metal band to sign with a major label.
Formed in Oslo in 1991 by guitarist-vocalist Sigurd "Satyr" Wongraven and named after the insane 1969 Fellini film, Satyricon released their debut on Satyr's own Moonfog Productions. It was the label's very first release in a short but impressive reign that included records from fellow Norwegians Darkthrone, Isengard and Gehenna, among others. The original vinyl edition of Dark Medieval Times was limited to 500 copies, and some — but not all — came with a poster of the back sleeve artwork.
These days, you can expect to pay anywhere from $1,500 to $2,400 for a decent copy that includes the poster. Thus far, the highest recorded sale on Discogs is $2,352.93 for a near-mint copy (with poster) in December of 2019. Four copies have sold so far in 2020, ranging in price from $1,588.24 to $2,118.65. As of this writing, there's a near-mint copy — sans poster — available from a seller in Germany with an asking price of $4,704.71.
We recently spoke with Scott Spaulding, a veteran buyer for Amoeba Records in Los Angeles — and lifelong collector — about his dealings with Dark Medieval Times.
HAVE YOU SEEN MANY OG COPIES OF DARK MEDIEVAL TIMES IN THE WILD?
SCOTT SPAULDING Just a handful. Right after Amoeba opened in the early 2000s, we started seeing first pressings of Norwegian black-metal stuff starting to go for money. Darkthrone, Burzum, Satyricon — they're all such interesting, cool records. But I remember seeing Dark Medieval Times get priced for four or five hundred bucks around '04 or '05, which was a lot for those kinds of records back then.
IT'S GONE UP QUITE A BIT SINCE THOSE DAYS.
And there's no end to it. In the last seven or eight years, those records have gone up a lot. Which is insane to me, because if you bought one of the bootlegs, the quality level isn't going to be a huge difference. But it's the hunt, right? Anyone who collects records knows that. You want to find an original. But still, to spend $2,500 on a record is insane to me.
AGREED. THE HIGHEST ALL-TIME SALE PRICE FOR DARK MEDIEVAL TIMES ON DISCOGS WAS $2,352.93.
And that's not a random fluke. It keeps selling at that rate — the ones with the poster go for the most — and keeps going up. And it keeps selling at a fairly normal pace, which is crazy.
FOUR COPIES SOLD ON DISCOGS THIS YEAR, WHICH SEEMS LIKE A LOT CONSIDERING THAT ONLY 500 EXIST. BUT I'VE BEEN NOTICING THAT TREND WITH SOME OF THE OTHER RARE RECORDS WE'VE COVERED, AS WELL — MORE COPIES HAVE COME UP FOR SALE IN 2020 THAN IN RECENT YEARS. DO YOU THINK THAT'S A RESULT OF THE PANDEMIC? LIKE PEOPLE ARE PANICKING AND SELLING THEIR SHIT?
Yeah. People are having a rough time financially and looking to make some money that will last them for a period of time. If you have one of these records, boom — you're set for a little while. The other side of that is people are at home, bored. If you have some disposable income and more time to sit on the Internet, maybe you're going, "Wow, I really love that record …" If you don't really have any self-control when it comes to spending — boom, there you go. Or you can burn through a credit card in five seconds. I mean, I wish I had a copy of Dark Medieval Times laying around. I could move it and pay a couple of bills!
HAS DARK MEDIEVAL TIMES COME UP IN BUYS YOU'VE DONE FOR AMOEBA?
Yeah, it's been in some collections I've seen. But it's been some time, so I couldn't give you any real detail on that as far as how much was paid for it. It's crazy to think that 20 years ago, $300 was a lot for a record like this. And it is. I mean, that's beyond my personal limit, and I've been collecting records for a long time. But some people spend that kind of money without blinking an eye. There's people out there who are willing to mortgage their house for a record like this.
HOW LONG HAS IT BEEN SINCE YOU'VE SEEN ONE?
At least a decade, and it was already going for about a thousand at that point.
DO YOU SEE A DIFFERENCE IN HOW BLACK-METAL RECORDS ARE FETISHIZED COMPARED TO OTHER STYLES OF MUSIC — OR EVEN OTHER STYLES OF METAL?
I think so. That generation of Norwegian black metal is all boutique level as far as how many were pressed, and it's a smaller circle as far as who collects. The fan base is still relatively small compared to other genres and subgenres. So it becomes super fetishized, and people get obsessed because it's their music, their movement.