EMPEROR — Anthems to the Welkin at Dusk

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EMPEROR - Anthems to the Welkin at Dusk cover
4.36 | 68 ratings | 7 reviews
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Album · 1997


1. Alsvartr (The Oath) (4:18)
2. Ye Entrancemperium (5:14)
3. Thus Spake the Nightspirit (4:29)
4. Ensorcelled by Khaos (6:39)
5. The Loss and Curse of Reverence (6:09)
6. The Acclamation of Bonds (5:54)
7. With Strength I Burn (8:17)
8. The Wanderer (2:54)

Total Time: 43:55

Bonus tracks:
9. In Longing Spirit (5:55)
10. Opus a Satana (4:17)
11. The Loss and Curse of Reverence (live) (6:23)

Total Time: 60:34


- Ihsahn / Main Lead Guitars, All Vocals, Synth
- Samoth / Lead and Rhythm Guitars
- Alver / Bass Guitars
- Trym / Drums and Percussion

About this release

Full-length, Candlelight, July 8th, 1997

Thanks to Vehemency, UMUR, Pekka, adg211288 for the updates


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Specialists/collaborators reviews

Much like the debut, Anthems is a crowning achievement of Symphonic Black Metal. Incredibly talented musicians play extreme music with much more competence and ability than most Black Metal players, and the compositions are complex and layered. Every instrument is ever busy, a cacophony of epic darkness assaulting the listener with nonstop force. This thing is dense with complex arrangements, and despite all instruments staying at overdrive territory much of the time, the songs are written well (and production is strong too) so that no piece overpowers the other.

All of the main songs here are fantastic. Never a wasted moment with these compositions, full of unique riffing and deliciously icy keys, ominous choirs, and an insane rhythm section. The vocalist commands presence as well – really getting into some crazed dark fantasy persona in some of these tracks. We get classic Black Metal shrieks, but also some good operatic, layered cleans.

The non-Metal/filler tracks are a weakness. The intro is an offensive example that goes on almost 4 and a half minutes before letting us get to the meat, and the outro is good, but still the weakest real track to end on. Never understood why bands insisted on sandwiching albums between tracks like these. Still a fantastic album, but it hurts the listening experience.
siLLy puPPy
OK, team! Roll call. Ihsahn. Here! Samoth. Yo! Tschort. Tschort? Anybody seen Tschort? Faust. Faust? What's going on here! Where did half the band go? Ok. Two no shows. You, Alver. You handle the bass duties on this one. Trym. You pound those skins. And Samoth. Just what is your parole status? I hope you're done with all that naughtiness. Well, we shall hope.

Achieving the almost impossible, EMPEROR followed up one of the most magnanimous achievements of black metal with an equally compelling masterpiece in ANTHEMS TO THE WELKIN AT DUSK. Although there are many similarities, there are equally many differences. This album is more progressive and the production is clearly less tinny and the vocals of Ihsahn are clearly not only more audible but in a totally different style varying form the similar form of muffled shrieks of the last album to the often spoken and mumbled. Don't think this means you can understand them any better! This is black metal!

This album clearly displays a complexity that not only blows away their contemporaries of the day but even by those of the present. EMPEROR chose a royal title and I have to admit that they chose well because of all the black metal bands i've listened to I still find EMPEROR to be one of the best. It simply has all the elements that make black metal what it should be. It also seems that the influence that this band laid down is immeasurable since countless bands have used aspects that they laid down in their early years of existence. Another brilliant album by a unique band that is equally famous for its naughtiness as it is for its outstanding black metal. Personally I couldn't care less about the antics and only care about the music itself, which is more than enough for this band to be immortalized in history.
Emperor's debut album was an outright masterpiece, and even under the best circumstances expecting the followup to match its symphonic majesty would be a tall order. Considering that after its completion Samoth and Faust both got sent to jail (Samoth for church burning, and Faust for a despicable homophobic murder plus a side order of church burning), it's almost a miracle that the album sounds this good. Ihsahn and Samoth team up with a new rhythm section and proceed to rack up their music to the next level of intricate complexity. New drummer Trym deserves particular mention, his cacophanous fury blowing Faust's performance on the preceding album out of the water.
After already creating one of the greatest albums, "In the Nightside Eclipse", Emperor decided to do it again right. This is one of the rare examples of when a band can make a large change in their sound and still do it right. Emperor deserves respect for doing something new instead of rehashing their sound when they were already at their peak, but also deserve more respect for the quality of this album on its own merit. Thus, Anthems to the Welkin at Dusk is a highly recommended black metal album with tons of symphonic elements that bring out their best.

Anthems to the Welkin at Dusk is fantastic for the wall of sound that's all over the place. It's completely ahead of its time, and instead of the symphonics being cheesy and overblown, they melt perfectly into the other instruments to give of an epic feeling without the cheese, which is the problem with so many of Emperor's "successors". The guitars are sharp and heavy, leaving off most of the rawness from the previous album. And, of course, no Emperor album would be complete without Ihsahn's pure, sharp, evil shrills, which pierce right through the sound and deliver all the demonic feeling of hell.

The songs work well to build the atmosphere of the album, so while the songs are memorable and the riffs are great, they don't really stand out from each other. Metalheads should be familiar with "Thus Spake the Nightspirit", though, which features some pre-avant garde Ihsahn styled riffs and guitar solo. Its driving 12/8 rhythm gives off a frantic pace, and goes into a heavy slow drive towards the end. "With Strength I Burn" may also be one of the greatest metal songs on the Earth, featuring some of the most epic-sounding arpeggios, and a clean section towards the end that would break the most kvlt black metaller into tears.

Ultimately, those starting looking into black metal need to listen to this guy. It's a classic album, and will be around for many years to come. In its original form, its symphonic metal that does everything right before the followers got everything wrong. It's a complete symphonic metal orgy of chaos and darkness, and you won't regret the purchase.
Anthems to the Welkin at Dusk is the 2nd album by Norwegian black metal act Emperor. The album was released by Candlelight Records in July 1997. It´s been re-released several times since then with different bonus tracks and other features. My version is the 2004 re-release which includes 3 bonus tracks, an interview with Finnish TV and some live clips from 1997-1998. The band´s debut full-length studio album In the Nightside Eclipse was released in 1994 but because of guitarist Samoth´s arson conviction and his 16 months jail sentence and drummer Faust´s murder conviction and long jail sentence it took a couple of years before the band started recording Anthems to the Welkin at Dusk. For the recording of the album new drummer Trym and new bassist Alver were brought in to complete the lineup.

The music on the album is fast-paced raw yet quite symphonic keyboard driven black metal. The musicianship is excellent and you´ll hear no sloppy old school black metal drumming here. The vocals are raspy and occasionally clean. Upon first listen the music can seem a bit chaotic. Mainly because of the synths in the music which gives the music lots of atmosphere but also work as a confusing element. The music is mostly fast paced with blast beat drumming but there are a few calmer sections on the album too. While the synths play a dominant role on the album this is not as such symphonic black metal. Parts of the sound could be labelled that but Emperor have their own unique sound and they are a bit more raw than you usual symphonic black metal act.

The vocals are very low in the mix which to my ears is a production flaw, but it´s probably how it´s supposed to be. I´m not fond of it though. Other than that the production is allright, but as on many other black metal releases there´s not much bass and the guitars sound a bit thin.

I have always had great respect for Emperor´s compositional skills and their great musicianship, but their music has yet to really captivate me. I find it intriguing though and some day I might be won over. Until then I can´t give a full 4 star rating. 3.5 stars are warranted.

Members reviews

Emperor's debut, In the Nightside Eclipse is a classic for many reasons, notably all of the things that made it so unique for its time. Emperor created the symphonic black metal genre by committing a taboo worse than human transmutation, killing your parents or putting pineapple on pizza: synths in black metal. Cue Carmax commercial ending. But because the group took it seriously by using a thin layer throughout the whole with a more gothic and cinematic approach than anything, as well as going head-to-head with some astounding riffs and melodies, Nightside Eclipse became an instant classic.

What we have here is a thematic improvement on every aspect of Nightside. The elements that comprise Nightside are a heavily present but thin layer of dungeon synths, melo-traditional behavior and clean production. On Welkins, everything here is not only improved, but refined like a purified crystal, now with some or another power of night, darkness, yadda yadda. The album is one of those that goes through a plethora of influences ranging from some of the most blatantly gothic synth the genre has, newly found progressive styles, and the original genre components of Nightside, all purified... but like Butcher the Weak, it recycles the same influences throughout more than half of these songs. This is because of the final element of Nightside: the shifting riffs and layouts. This is what united the identities of Nightside as one whole, and it largely does the same here. But I'll be damned if I didn't honestly say that each melody and riff wasn't great if not incredible. I gave Butcher the Weak five-stars for that behavior because it worked, and this 40-minute maelstrom of gothic evil lasts without a real blemish throughout its 40 minutes. I mean, technically each song is predictable when you think about it: heavy start, several symphonic riffs, abrupt ending. But each song is pulled off in an almost beautiful manner.

There is dirty, edgy and speed-based metal like Darkthrone or Immortal which knows how to amaze, and then there's the orchestral presence of Emperor, especially on Welkins, where the album doesn't simply "emit demonic energy: it glows black and violet behind its thickly green album cover, never oozing or dripping, just glowing. The definition of the album is majesty, and is a rare example of me giving an album with "technically" samey behavior on a song-to-song basis five stars. The finest tuned axample of symphonic black metal I can think of, Welkins is a rare breed by a band all about crafting a different kind of breed each album. All of these songs amaze with the various influences, and that shows something: Emperor can actually get away with the behavior that leads many bands to write the same song over and over again, because Emperor still had new rhythmic and melodic tricks up their sleeves.
Emperor is back again, following their masterpeice "In The Nightside Eclipse". They have suffered some line-up changes though, bringing in a new bassist and a new drummer after Faust was convicted of murder and sent to jail for 7 years. But it worked out pretty well considering they replaced him with Trym, who is (besides Hellhammer) the best Black Metal drummer out there. So with the new line-up and album, lets see what they can do.

The album begins with "Alsvartr (The Oath)" which is a nice clean guitar intro that graduates into a symphonic march that gives a great lead in to the album as a whole. Then in an instant, Trym blasts the intro to "Ye Entrancemperium" and the carnage begins. The album is fairly well produced, with a lot of vocals and guitar. They seemed to of bagged the garage feel and the keyboards are barely heard over the pounding drums and guitar, this album is way more "in your face" than nightside was, making it a little overwelming.

But with all the stuff that is going on at once, it is amazing to hear. They seemed to have upped the complexity of their music, adding clean vocals and speaches to their music, giving it a sense of purpose. The intro to "Thus Spake The Nightspirit" shows trumpet like keyboards and pounding drums (giving the thought of an army ready for battle) and "The Loss And Curse Of Reverence", which is possibly the best song on the album, blazes though your speakers yielding a high screech of guitars and vocals. Emperor has followed up with a well put together album that gives you everything you want from a band like this. They are making their mark, and doing it very well and effectively. And hell, the cd even comes with a video for "The Loss And Curse Of Reverence" which gives a nice visual for the music, so at least buy it for that.

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