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.