EMPEROR — In the Nightside Eclipse

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EMPEROR - In the Nightside Eclipse cover
4.31 | 71 ratings | 5 reviews
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Album · 1994


1. Intro (0:51)
2. Into the Infinity of Thoughts (8:14)
3. The Burning Shadows of Silence (5:35)
4. Cosmic Keys to My Creations & Times (6:06)
5. Beyond the Great Vast Forest (6:00)
6. Towards the Pantheon (5:57)
7. The Majesty of the Nightsky (4:53)
8. I Am the Black Wizards (6:00)
9. Inno a Satana (4:47)

Total Time: 48:28


- Ihsahn / Vocals, Guitars, Synths
- Samoth / Guitars
- Tchort / Bass
- Faust / Drums

About this release

Full-length, Candlelight, February 21st, 1994

Recorded summer 1993.

Music composed by Samoth and Ihsahn. Lyrics by Samoth, Ihsahn and Mortiis (tracks 4 and 8).

The 1999 and 2004 remasters include 2 bonus tracks:

10. A Fine Day to Die (Bathory cover) (Recorded during the "Anthems..." sessions)
11. Gypsy (Mercyful Fate cover)

Re-issued in 2004 under Candlelight Records. The reissue includes edited material from a live show in Oslo for the song "Towards the Pantheon", as well as various other clips from live recordings in 1997.

Thanks to Vehemency, UMUR, Lynx33, adg211288 for the updates


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While Master’s Hammer actually take the accolade for the first Symphonic Black Metal album, few would disagree that Emperor’s debut improved on and perfected the genre. In the Nightside Eclipse may have singlehandedly launched the boom of Sympho Black albums in the late nineties, and became the template for the genre’s sound. It’s still regarded as widely the greatest Sympho Black album out there. But does it live up to its reputation?

The answer is a resounding yes. Emperor’s debut is a masterpiece of songwriting and dark, cold, but epic atmosphere. Each song is a beautifully crafted piece lush with choirs and strings, yet still heavily focused on classic Black Metal instrumentation. The symphonic aspect is not overbearing or overblow – not that I mind those styles – but it very much serves as a core backbone of atmosphere to the cold Black Metal riffing. Each song is not only dense with nocturnal soundscapes, but there’s a ton going on within the primary band as well. The instrumentation is of very high technique compared to most Black Metal, and the songs are full of varying passages, with fast parts, slow parts, pummeling aggression and more calculated melody.

One of those albums without any glaring flaws. Aside from the pointless into, every song is of equal quality, each has something special about them. No dull moments. Easily lives up to its reputation. Another one of those bands that aced a new style of music on their first try.
siLLy puPPy
Although not the first black metal band to incorporate the use of keyboards into a brutal sonicscape (that honor goes to Sigh), EMPEROR, nonetheless was the first to actually make it work and create an eerie layer to the incredibly brutal black metal-fest that is called IN THE NIGHTSHADE ECLIPSE. As usual, the production is tweaked to sound tinny and slightly out of the comfort zone of the casual listener. A startling experience upon first listen but after adjusting to this strange new world, it rewards the listener with outstanding musicianship, a beyond-energetic delivery system and for those who care about the lyrics, some ridiculously poetic verbiage. Just don't expect to understand them even if you are trying to read them as Ihsahn wails through the wall of din that encompasses a sonic fortress where it feels like the pleas of a prisoner are trying to supplicate the forgiveness of an embodiment of a karmic barrier that prevents the endorphin-like substances from relieving the promulgating pangs of darkness.

What makes this album so brilliant is its intensity. It simply grabs you by the gonads and demands your attention for the entire run. You either succumb to its will or flee in horror as you are not worthy of its metallic prowess that will transfix you into an alternate reality for its entirety. The demons have been set free from their chains and have taken full control of this band who delivers the most deliciously evile sonic assault ever laid down onto physical matter. A true erudition of the occult. A manic escheat to the underworld. I am forever under the spell of this metallic fury that delivers the best of the best in the department of the demonic.

This band, of course is known for its atrocities that the individual members committed. The murders, the church burnings. You know the stories and if you don't you can easily learn about them. All in all I look at it this way. Some people blame black metal for inciting all kinds of violence, murder sprees and church burning. It's true that some of these miscreants were indeed involved in the world of black metal, but my argument is simple. Maybe, just maybe if these disturbed individuals didn't have music in their lives then those impulses to commit those egregious acts would have been more frequent with more vehemency and would have led to even more sensational societal defiances. I think that the music that these guys created diluted the truly evil impulses that haunted their souls. Rating the music and not the other aspects of their lives, this album is a bona fide masterpiece.

As an epilogue to this tale of woe and despair. On the re-mastered version there are two bonus tracks that are well worth having as long as you realize that they are not meant to be a part of the original album. That's why they are called bonus tracks. But damn good ones.
Emperor's debut album saw the band rocket to the front rank of the black metal pantheon, and is more or less the wellspring for the whole melodic/symphonic black metal movement. Simply put, at the time this came out nobody in the Norwegian black metal scene except for Burzum would touch synthesisers with a bargepole - and ol' Varg Vikernes used them mainly for dark ambient excursions and textures.

Emperor, conversely, use Ihsahn's synths to add a level of symphonic pomp and bombast to their music. It's not quite going down the path of prog rock or progressive metal - when the synths go silent, as on the thunderous climax of Beyond the Vast Great Forest, what's left behind is still primal black metal - but the sense of grandeur and theatricality the synthesisers add, reflected in the over the top fantasy lyrics (including a few contributions from ex-member Mortiis which seem related to the fantasy world he would explore with his early solo albums), take Emperor into entirely novel territory.

Whilst black metal purists may bemoan the way this album paved the way for the likes of Dimmu Borgir and Cradle of Filth to push the black metal genre even further down a symphonic direction, I personally think it's a wonderful album. The only criticism I'd have is that Ihsahn's vocals are almost buried in the mix, but then again there's points where this works remarkably well, creating the impression of a ghostly voice drowned out by the roar of the musical storm the band conjure up. Simply put, this is a cornerstone of black metal which deserves repeated listens and all due reverence.
In the Nightside Eclipse is the debut full-length studio album by Norwegian black metal act Emperor. The album was released by Candlelight Records in February 1994. In the Nightside Eclipse was recorded, produced and mixed in the famous Grieghallen Studios, in Bergen, Norway with sound Engineer Pytten who also worked with acts like Enslaved and Immortal. The band travelled the about 500 kilometers from Oslo to Bergen in a car they bad borrowed from guitarist Samoth´s dad. Emperor were very young at the time and drummer Faust was the only one with a driver license, so he drove the car. on the remastered and re-issued edition of the album from 2004, there is an insightful interview with the band member where their feelings about the album and some of the circumstances surrounding the album´s creation are revealed. There´s for example a funny anekdote where vocalist/ guitarist/ keyboardist Ihsahn talks about the band´s time in Bergen. Ihsahn was only 17 years old when Emperor recorded In the Nightside Eclipse, so while the other guys in the band went to the local pubs to drink after they had finished recording for the day, Ihsahn, who according to Norwegian law was not old enough to enjoy alcohol, had to stay behind in the studio with Pytten. Ihsahn says in the interview that he learned a lot about studio techniques during their time in Bergen. A valuable knowledge that he was able to use further on in his career as a musician. The basic tracks were recorded in the summer of 1993, but it was not until the beginning of 1994 that the band were able go back to Grieghallen Studios to mix the album. The long time that went by between recording the album and mixing it was in large part due to the the fact that both guitarist Samoth and drummer Faust were arrested in the autumn of 1993. Samoth who was "only" suspected of arson/ church burning was released shortly after the arrest, and only later received his 16 months jail sentence for his part in the burning of the Skjold Church in Vindafjord. Faust however was suspected of a much more serious crime. In 1992 Faust murdered a homosexual man named Magne Andreassen while Faust lived in Lillehammer. Magne Andreassen had made strong sexual advances towards Faust, and that was supposedly more than Faust could handle/ tolerate. So he stabbed and kicked Magne Andreassen to death in a nearby forest. Faust remained in custody until he received his 16 years jail sentence. So needless to say that those times were very chaotic for Emperor. To top it off bassist Tchort left the band during that time too.

The music on In the Nightside Eclipse is by many considered the first attempt at symphonic black metal. The music sure is symphonic and the dominant keyboard/ synth layers create a majestic atmosphere. Unlike many later symphonic black metal releases, In the Nightside Eclipse features a really raw and harsh black metal element too. This is not a polished and slick symphonic black metal affair. The musicianship is excellent. One of the great assets of this album is the drumming by Faust. He´s got a great aggressive and powerful style and at the same time he is precise. No sloppy playing here. The synths are very well arranged and never become too much. The fact that Ihsahn was only 17 years old when he arranged the synth parts is pretty damn impressive and emphasizes how great a musician he was/ is. The sound is actually very well balanced between the raw black metal sound and the symphonic part of the sound, which can be a very hard balance to strike. The 9 tracks on the original release ( the 1999 and 2004 re-issue includes 2 bonus tracks) are all of high quality. Emperor emphasize dark and majestic atmosphere as opposed to more riff based music. A song like I Am The Black Wizards does employ a very easily recognisable melodic riff though which reminds me somewhat of the melodic leads in some of Dissection´s songs. The vocals are a bit too high pitched for my taste and a bit too low in the mix, but that´s probably an aquired taste. They are of course in the raspy black metal style.

The production is raw but very enjoyable. This is not one of those lo-fi "recorded in my own bedroom or dark cellar" recordings. Again the band strike a good balance between raw and clean but never too polished.

There´s no doubt that In the Nightside Eclipse is a seminal album in the symphonic black metal genre but not only that. It´s also one of the best albums in the genre because Emperor at this point were still basically a raw black metal act who had a vision of incorporating symphonic keyboards into their sound and did it, and not a symphonic black metal act with elements from the more raw part of black metal as they would become later on. Of all four Emperor studio albums this is probably the most simple one compositionally speaking, but it´s the album I enjoy the most. 4 stars are well deserved. This one is a must hear.

Members reviews

The mighty Emperor. The Scandinavian black metal band that has been around for many moons, and can be traced all the way back to The Black Circle. (if you dont know what that is.. do some reading) But these guys finally released a full length album that is worldwide, instead of just releasing demos,etc. After kicking Mortiis (yes, the same one) out of the band and having Ishann do vocals, it was time to do a full length album. Mortiis still has his presence on the lyric sheet mind you, but doesnt do anything instrumentally or vocally on this album. But enough of the history lesson, onto the review.

Emperor has made an album that is one of the best black metal albums of all time. The album is produced with an all treble sound, that gives you the thought of being in a desolate forest with no one around you for miles at night. (which is what they were probably going for anyways) They have an incredible amount talent. Samoth's guitar riffs are fast and flawless, Faust's drums sound like they were recorded in a garage with one mic, and Ihsahn's vocals are loud and raspy which is how they should be. Keyboards can be heard very softly in the background, but mix in a lot with the rest of the insturments.

They seem to make a ghostly presence on the album that plays with your mind and adds even more atmosphere to the album. One of the best examples of this is in the song "The Burning Shadows Of Silence" where the keyboards sound like singing ghosts traveling through the heavens. The songs are overall pretty simple, but are done in a way that makes them seem more complex, and it works wonderfully. I can't say much more about this masterpeice, it's an album you just have to experience for yourself. Every Black Metal fan should have this in their collection.

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