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Emperor - Anthems to the Welkin at Dusk

1997 Century Media Records :: Reviewed by rofreason on 2005-07-06

I have to state again for the record that I am not the biggest fan of newer "Black Metal". Maybe I'm just not as angry, or into the extreme as I used to be, but a lot of this stuff is just like elves on PCP pissed off and dancing around Keebler Central. But, I try to be open minded, and since I would like this page to be representative of all metal, I feel obligated to try to tap into a piece of the genre which is growing in leaps and bounds. I must say, after hearing both this album and Old Man's Child, I am actually quite impressed! While Old Man's Child (as well as other bands such as Sacramentum do incorporate more standard death metal, Emperor lives up to it's name and produces a truly majestic dish of coherent white noise. Layers upon layers of quality synth work swirls around just magnificent guitar lines. After a truly stunning intro, Ye Entrancemperium kicks in, just blowing the unsuspecting listener right out of his or her chair. Yeah, this shit is just mind-numbingly fast (courtesy of super-human drumming by newcomer Trym from Enslaved), but it also makes sense, and you can easily decipher notes and themes. It helps that the production is really, really good, as this album would have just suffered at the hands of a hack. It's hard to pick out a specific performance, because the whole band just forms this tight wall of sound, but again, for me, the drumming is nothing short of amazing. Negatives I might find (due to not being a die-hard fan of the genre) are that the songs start to run together a little towards the middle. Although before interest is lost, Ihsahn and the boys will kick into this totally cool orchestrated section which will blow me away. The switching between tortured elf and majestic king vocals is also a welcome treat for me. In conclusion, if you're a die hard fan, I'm sure that you have this, and if you don't, get it, now. For the weekend black metal listener, this is far and away some of the best that I've heard, and is an excellent starting point for this genre within a genre. The added tracks (from the Reverence E.P.) are a bit slower and doomier, but also kick serious ass. Now if these guys could just keep out of trouble, a really bright future is on the horizon.

Emperor - Equilibrium IX

1999 Century Media Records :: Reviewed by rofreason on 2005-07-06

This record has got to be released to some of this biggest hype ever, and to judge from the reviews so far, Emperor have succeeded once more in dominating the world of black metal. Well, after much deliberation, I have to agree, for while nothing new has been thrown forth, the mighty Emperor just can't seem to produce anything less than epic. This is also a difficult review in that there's just not much one can say about Emperor, besides the fact that they are master songsmiths, dedicated to the craft of the blackest order. What's improved here? Well, the production DOES seem to have been adjusted, allowing more sepration between the instruments, most notably the drums and keyboards. There's still some blurring of lines during the speedier sections, but it seems almost impossible to avoid that in this genre. There's also quite the buzz about the lack of emphasis on keyboards here, supposedly the band going for a more "organic" death metal approach, placing the guitar forward. I have to disagree, for while the riffs reign supreme on many tracks, the album would be flat without the orchestrated layers placed above. Ihsahn's vocals remain similar to previous ventures, with maybe a tad more experimentation on The Source of Icon E, which is a definite nod to King Diamond. What did I expect? Well, I wanted to see Emperor push it to the next level, as they had on Anthems... That didn't happen, but they did manage to make another killer record of the same caliber. That may not say a lot for Emperor, but is the apex of existence for every other band out there. Definitely recommended for purchase.