EMPEROR
Symphonic Black Metal / Black Metal • Norway

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Emperor is an influential Norwegian black metal band that represents a synth laden, progressive yet brutally aggressive and chaotic part of the genre, something quite different from the minimalism of other originators of the Norwegian black metal sound (e.g. Darkthrone).

The band was formed around the core members Samoth (Tomas Thormodsæter Haugen) and Ihsahn (Vegard Sverre Tveitan) of the death metal band Thou Shalt Suffer and bass player Mortiis (Håvard Ellefsen) in Notodden, Norway, 1992.

They released their critically acclaimed and widely influential debut In the Nightside Eclipse in 1994 after being joined by drummer Faust and having replaced Mortiis with Tchort on bass.

Around the same time as the release of the debut, most of the band's members are arrested on various accounts (drummer Faust for murder and arson, guitarist Samoth for arson and bassist Tchort for burglary).

Two years later, after Samoth's parole, the band released
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EMPEROR Discography

EMPEROR albums / top albums

.. Album Cover 4.22 | 58 ratings
In the Nightside Eclipse
Symphonic Black Metal 1994
.. Album Cover 4.39 | 46 ratings
Anthems to the Welkin at Dusk
Symphonic Black Metal 1997
.. Album Cover 3.81 | 32 ratings
IX Equilibrium
Symphonic Black Metal 1999
.. Album Cover 3.46 | 29 ratings
Prometheus: The Discipline of Fire & Demise
Symphonic Black Metal 2001

EMPEROR EPs & splits

.. Album Cover 3.90 | 11 ratings
Emperor
Black Metal 1993
.. Album Cover 3.18 | 5 ratings
As the Shadows Rise
Black Metal 1994
.. Album Cover 3.95 | 10 ratings
Reverence
Symphonic Black Metal 1997
.. Album Cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
True Kings of Norway
Black Metal 2000

EMPEROR live albums

.. Album Cover 4.12 | 4 ratings
Emperial Live Ceremony
Symphonic Black Metal 2000
.. Album Cover 4.00 | 3 ratings
Thus Spake the Nightspirit / Inno a Satana
Black Metal 2009
.. Album Cover 4.29 | 7 ratings
Live Inferno
Symphonic Black Metal 2009

EMPEROR demos, promos, fans club and other releases (no bootlegs)

.. Album Cover 4.00 | 1 ratings
Wrath Of The Tyrant
Black Metal 1992

EMPEROR boxset & compilations

.. Album Cover 3.65 | 8 ratings
Emperor / Wrath of the Tyrant
Black Metal 1998
.. Album Cover 4.83 | 3 ratings
Scattered Ashes: A Decade of Emperial Wrath
Symphonic Black Metal 2003

EMPEROR singles (0)

EMPEROR movies (DVD, Blu-Ray or VHS)

EMPEROR Reviews

EMPEROR Wrath Of The Tyrant

Demo · 1992 · Black Metal
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Even though black metal in 1992 was still in its nascent form, EMPEROR was following in the footsteps of Mayhem and demonstrating that they could be fully possessed by the demons that spewed their sonic venom like deranged derelicts along with likes of contemporaries Darkthrone, Mayhem and Immortal in the earliest part of the second wave of Norwegian black metal. This is so early on that you can hear them transitioning from the thrash and death metal into the newer more evil sounds that were emerging as a distinct subgenre.

If there was any black metal demo that truly sounds like it was recorded in the depths of hell, this one might be it. It is clear from this muddy lo-fi first demo that EMPEROR were extremely good musicians who didn't need to rely on the better production values that would come on their major releases. The frenetic energy and absolutely insane performances are top notch here making this some of the scariest music i've ever heard. I have a weakness for these early black metal releases and when the musicianship is this topnotch it's hard not to get shivers when I hear the horrific sounds of Ihsahn (listed as Ygg on this one), Samot and original bassist Mortiis raising the dead in the night of the graveless souls.

EMPEROR Emperor

EP · 1993 · Black Metal
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This debut EP by EMPEROR was originally released as a split album with Enslaved's debut EP Hordanes Land but has since been remastered and released independently and together with the demo “Wrath Of The Tyrant.” On this release Ygg changed his name to the more familiar Ihsahn and Faust made his debut delivering us to evil with his impressive drumming skills. This would be the last effort for Mortiis who would jump ship only to pursue his dark ambient musical fetish.

On this debut EP by the mighty EMPEROR we hear the transition from the muddy live wire demo band to the in-transit zone between death, thrash and the second wave of black metal but starting here we get a more smoothed out madness with an atmospheric keyboard backing. The music is just as intense and brutal but the symphonic backing adds a rather calming feel that makes this seem a little less startling and less like it was recorded in the depths of hell than the previous demo. The real proof is by listening to the two tracks which appeared on the demo and were re-recorded for this EP. Those two tracks being "Wrath of the Tyrant" and "Night of the Graveless Souls.” It's easy to hear how the full debut album “In The Nightshade Eclipse” picks up from here. This is a satisfying four song interlude in their discography that shouldn't be ignored.

EMPEROR Anthems to the Welkin at Dusk

Album · 1997 · Symphonic Black Metal
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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 In the Nightside Eclipse

Album · 1994 · Symphonic Black Metal
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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 Prometheus: The Discipline of Fire & Demise

Album · 2001 · Symphonic Black Metal
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Warthur
I guess part of the reason Prometheus gets such a mixed reception from Emperor fans is that, listening to it, it eventually becomes clear that Emperor weren't actually especially interested in sounding like Emperor any more. Whilst IX Equilibrium did at points recall the sound of Anthems to the Welkin at Dusk and In the Nightside Eclipse, here we're on Ihsahn's experimental trip and the rest of the band are just along for the ride.

And Ihsahn himself seems to have concocted the project mainly to officially announce the demise of the band. Lyrically, the piece seems to be a concept album about the Emperor (you know, the one who's regularly the focus of the band's lyrics) realising that all he'd been doing previously was rather empty and meaningless, drifting around a bit, and then dying. Musically, things are just as half-hearted and reluctant as the concept implies, the band Emperor plodding to death along with the metaphorical Emperor. It's an interesting way to bring a band's career to a close, but I have to say that a better way to draw a line under the group's recording efforts is to just stop recording and let the band's classic earlier albums stand on their own.

As far as experimental extreme metal goes, there's far better releases out there (including some by Ihsahn himself), so this one's well within the Collectors Only bracket.

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Zargus wrote:
more than 2 years ago
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