EMPEROR — Prometheus: The Discipline of Fire & Demise (review)

EMPEROR — Prometheus: The Discipline of Fire & Demise album cover Album · 2001 · Symphonic Black Metal Buy this album from MMA partners
5/5 ·
I went through the whole discography again so that I could flesh out my black metal opinions even more. I've been very serious about this for a couple weeks, and I pretty much have them sorted out. There are just a couple things I need to get clear, especially concerning the band I went through the whole studio catalog of today (for the second time this month): Emperor, one of the most influential black metal bands in the world for creating, pioneering and perfecting the symphonic black metal sound.

A little Emperor history. They invented a new black metal genre, and it's considered one of the greatest albums of all time. They change up their sound, and it's considered one of the greatest albums of all time. This says something about Emperor: they are NOT conformists, and they weren't gonna stay that way. I may seriously piss somebody off when I speak honestly: if you won't let the non-conformists change their style, then you're not a real fan of them. In short, if you don't like Prometheus just because it doesn't sound like either of the first two albums, then you're not a real Emperor fan. It's one thing to say you prefer the original sound(s), but to act like they're not supposed to sound any other way in general is just unfair to the constant renovators.

Because of its shifting riffs and melodies within the same songs, a trait often found on Emperor songs, it is given a progressive tag. I think a couple songs are prog, mostly "Grey," but this just feels like a different sounding Emperor album with more influences than anything, rather than progressive black. I mean, come on. I've even read criticisms for how often In the Nightside Eclipse shifted its riffs. If people are worried that the progressive metal status and the heavy metal behavior of some of these songs takes away from the true blackness, I find that appalling to even consider. Songs like "The Prophet" and especially the thunderstorm that is "In the Wordless Chamber" have plenty of black attitude and blastbeats to maintain the status, and it's not alone. On a secondary note, what is "tr00 black metal?" I've heard various definitions of that as well. The most common answer when naming the perfect black metal sound, as I have researched, seems to be one of several classic Darkthrone's, usually A Blaze in the Northern Sky. That clean, sympho-gothic work is so far from Blaze that I feel like vomiting when I hear Welkin called "tr00." You might get away with that argument concerning Nightside, but I still find that album very cleanly produced. On the subject of Welkin's sound, I think one of the biggest underlying differences is the large lack of the gothic behavior of the synths, as well as the slight downgrade of necessity in place of more riffs. I have no problem with the decision itself; all I want is to see if it works.

Now that I'm done combining deconstruction of the album with my own personal ranting, I'm ready to go into the more detailed side of the review. Prometheus is, like Welkin was, a collection of various metal genres working together to create something unheard and new. That's Emperor's specialty. Why can't most war metal bands try this out for once? We have storms of fire, ice, wind, water and lightning all taking turns amazing with some of Emperor's healthiest melodic structures. Oh, forgot the earthquakes. Working with the elements of nature re a variety of different vocals all being perfectly delivered by Ihsahn, be it the high-pitched demonic squeals of Nightside, the more nocturnal growls of Welkin or some straight up operatic heavy metal singing and harmonies. He even get a couple 80's metal wails. And the best part? Each song has its own identity, standing out from the rest without any trouble. This is a feat that Emperor struggled with in past albums, even if they were able to bring together a collection of various influences together in shifting ways on Welkin.

What we're facing is the final metamorphosis of a modern Proteus. Emperor were a like a tiny larvae that made a big impact on the world, and once it became a butterfly, half of the metal community wanted them to be a larvae again. Prometheus is a concept album about the titular myth, but is that really what makes the album so strong when a large part of the idea is not to understand the lyrics? It's the monolithic power. This is a collection of a symphonic metal opera, the raging storms of ancient traditions, the further steps of prog, as well as so much more. I'd say that Emperor "accomplished" more on this album than they ever did. If I had to be fully honest, I consider this one of the very few albums that I feel represents a whole side of metal itself, rather than one or two genres. This is about all the extremities that black metal can achieve rather than just being another black metal album. Because of this, I know find myself in a very rare state of mind: I rank this above PARANOID.

Now my third best metal album of all time.
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siLLy puPPy wrote:
2 months ago
I just listened to this about a week ago and it blew me away like never before. I always liked it but it clicked with me on a whole other level. It might be my favorite Emperor album now and i love them all


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