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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.