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As the Shadows Rise - 85%

Noctir, October 8th, 2012

Released by Nocturnal Arts Productions in 1994, As the Shadows Rise is the second Emperor E.P. and features material recorded back in December 1992, during the same sessions as the tracks that ended up on Emperor. This effort is similar in that it includes re-recorded versions of songs from Wrath of the Tyrant, though no new tracks are present. Nonetheless, this mini-album is superior to their first, yet remains strangely obscured by time.

The production for this E.P. is fairly decent and suits the material well. It is not horribly modern or over-produced, but neither is it as necro and ancient-sounding as Wrath of the Tyrant. The sound quality is still rather grim, with a fuzzy guitar tone that is somewhat similar to that of Under A Funeral Moon. The riffs are just clear enough to be comprehended a little better than before, which may help some appreciate these songs a bit more. The vocals are not as loud in the mix as before, also possessing less reverb. The drums are at the perfect level, with Faust pummeling away in the background and not getting in the way.

Musically, these compositions are not much different from the original recordings. The only real alteration is during the middle of "Witches Sabbath", where there is a somewhat melodic doom riff that is not present in the old one. However, in trade, the morbid moans seem to be much lower and less effective, practically removing something that added to the eerie effect on Wrath of the Tyrant. Otherwise, there are not too many other differences, though there was not a lot of time to re-work the songs anyway, since this was recorded later in the same year. Obviously, the sound is a little clearer and this may alter the atmosphere of the songs, somewhat, just because there is less chaos and distortion. It also allows for some of the guitar melodies to be heard better, which may bring out more of the original intent behind the writing of these tracks. As with the versions on Emperor, Ihsahn decided to add synth to "Ancient Queen" and "Witches Sabbath". If there is any present on "Lord of Storms", it is too low to be noticed. As for the others, the keyboards are actually done in a much more subtle and tasteful manner than on the previous E.P. When used, it truly accentuates the dark atmosphere being created by the music, instead of working against it. Another positive is that the synth is not so high in the mix as to overpower everything else. It is rather surprising, as all of the material was re-recorded during the same session, yet the songs that they released first were the worst of the bunch.

As the Shadows Rise is a worthwhile E.P. and is highly recommended for fans of early Emperor. It is unfortunate that these tracks are harder to come by than the ones on the first mini-album, those being later released on the split with Enslaved and on reissues of Wrath of the Tyrant, since this collection of tunes is greatly superior in just about every way. For a bit of a different perspective on some classic Emperor songs, as well as another dose of old school Norwegian black metal, seek this out.

Written for http://ritesoftheblackmoon.tripod.com

Some Nice Second Drafts - 80%

CrimsonFloyd, June 8th, 2012

As the Shadows Rise is Emperor’s second EP and shows major improvements over its predecessor. While most of the dimensions of this brief recording are the same as its processor, there are a few major and significant upgrades. It seems that Emperor finally got the bucks to purchase a professional keyboard, which dramatically improves the band's sound. The synths are a major personality throughout the recording, creating intense backdrops and dreamy counter melodies. The production is also superior. All the instruments have a bigger and fuller sound than they did on the self-titled EP.

As the Shadows Rise is a rerecording of three tracks from the Wrath of the Tyrant demo. All three tracks sound significantly better. “The Ancient Queen” sounds glorious with the synths providing all sorts of wicked and regal tones. “Witches Sabbath” sacrifices the sheer viciousness of the original recording, but compensates by producing a dynamic and layered composition that slowly builds tension as it ascends toward its maniacal conclusion. “The Lord of the Storms” is a short track that combines Ihsahn’s blackened screams with deep guttural vocals (which are certainly modified). While it’s not the most impressive song, the strange vocal performance at least provides a novel experience.

As the Shadows Rise is a worthwhile EP from Emperor. There are two really solid songs on here and though "The Lord of the Storms" a little odd, it is at least entertaining. This is far from an essential recording, but it is a chance to see some nice early Emperor compositions get the makeover they deserve.

(Originally written for http://deinos-logos.blogspot.com/)

Darkness follows everywhere - 73%

autothrall, November 10th, 2011

Similar to the self-titled Emperor EP from the year prior, As the Shadows Rise loses a bit of its luster when you consider that there is no new or truly exclusive content present. Instead, these are three tracks re-recorded from the Wrath of the Tyrant demo in 1992, and provide a run-time of only 10-11 minutes. The vocals are a little less primordial and frightening, but clearer, and the songs are cast in a more epic and symphonic light than their original incarnations (in particular "The Ancient Queen" and "Witches Sabbath"), but all are of course present on the Emperor/Wrath of the Tyrant compilation put out in 1998, and the True Kings of Norway split (2000) which also featured early EP recordings from mostly esteemed countrymen Immortal, Ancient, Arcturus and Dimmu Borgir.

However, once again you've got something that in its original format is sure to be a collector's item. I'd also like to say that this doesn't carry the same burden as the Emperor EP of having two songs that sound so much better on a later recording (In the Nightside Eclipse). Really, these are the most polished versions we'll likely ever hear of this trio. "The Ancient Queen" is quite good, a steady march of mid-paced atmospheric black dowsed in Ihsahn snarls and blazing, elegant keyboards. That riff at about 1:00 into the song is one of the most evil and memorable sequences of notes that these Norwegians have ever written, and I think this is the best of the three songs here with ease. "Lord of the Storms" is much shorter, savage punk-fueled chords which sound solid over the drums, but the vicious vocals steal some of the show away from the music, and this also goes for "Witches Sabbath", though this has stronger, slower riffs and a few swerves into the heavily atmospheric, eerie keening vocals that balance it off very well.

Even if it does seem more skimpy than the Emperor EP, I'd definitely say that this was the more impressive of the two. No, the songs are not as good as "I Am the Black Wizards" or the content of In the Nightside Eclipse, but it's not a bad thing that the band would try to escalate a few of their old standbys to that same level of sweltering atmosphere and aggression. I favor "The Ancient Queen" and "Witches Sabbath" far over "Lord of the Storms", so the consistency is a little uneven, but I think that in general it's worth hearing for Emperor fans if they can check it out via the True Kings of Norway or whatever means available to them. Hell, I think I enjoy "The Ancient Queen" more than some of the songs on Anthems to the Welkin at Dusk.

-autothrall
http://www.fromthedustreturned.com

Get it some way or another - 70%

firebee1, August 17th, 2005

Right, well this is a short little EP by one of black metal's most well known bands, Emperor. Now forewords to short things like this are really dumb so I’ll just get down to the song-by-song, mmkay?

The Ancient Queen 10/10

This one starts out with a grimly produced bass riff and as soon as the electric guitar slides in you are immediately captured by grimness and northern evil. Then Ihsahn's vox come in and make sure you fuckin stay there. Faust's drumming is excellent as always. Now this review is coming from somebody who didn't really like In The Nightside Eclipse as most Emperor listeners do. I found that album kind of repetitive. I am saying this so you know how sincere I am when I say this song isn't repetitive. The production is unpolished and filthy but in an evil way like it's supposed to be. This is a fine produced EP by black metal standards. When 2:45 rolls round, it goes back to that first verse music with the keyboard ambience, which adds an incredible amount of evil to this track. Although I did say that this is a non-repetitive song, note how perfectly the repetition of the intro music fits in with the song as a whole. As a side note, this is the first Emperor song I ever heard. I was chatting with one of my friends over AIM and when the electric guitar started I immediately said, "omfg this emperor song is black as all fucking evil!" and after listening to this song I think you'll agree just fine.

Witches Sabbath 10/10

This one starts out a little differently than the other one. The electric guitar is playing first then Ihsahn’s comes out with the most evil piece of vocal work I’ve ever heard. He recorded two vocal parts. One is a brief shriek produced at high volume and the other part continues it out to a raspy growl. The shriek booms through whatever it is you're playing the song through. Excellent production! Then there is some evil ambient chanting for a little while building up to the full on black metal assault of Faust’s drums. Ihsahn does another high volume shriek shortly. A very powerful verse indeed! The song then falls back to the second intro part with Ihsahn’s chanting and Faust’s slow drums. Ihsahn then vocalizes as normal. Faust’s drums pick up as Samoth releases an evil guitar solo while Ihsahn still singing making for a fully experienced necrowave across your soul. Then the song goes back to its relentless brutality as Ihsahn releases another one of those shrieks. He ends the brutality with an even shriller shriek making pure evilness on record. The song starts to make what would normally be outro material for a black metal song. Ihsahn resumes his evil chanting. Then resuming the relentless brutality with one final shriek in the middle of the verse. The song wraps up rather randomly yet you feel very satisfied with your evil black metal song.

Lord of the Storms (Evil Necro Voice From Hell Remix) 1/10

Now this song would have been okay if it wasn't for the "Evil Necro Voice" because it is one of the most annoying sounds I’ve ever heard on a song. It’s not even real vocals, it's a computer-altered voice track. I can't even tell about what was going on during the evil necro voice because no matter how hard I try, I can't seem to get pass the irritation of the sound. The necro voice stops for a while making actually a very average performance. Faust does typical black metal drumming which you can hear on pretty much any black metal band. The guitar riff is pretty dumb too. It’s just some ascending riff. The necro voice resumes for the rest of the song and at the end, don't be surprised if you feel the need to raise a really REALLY big WTF flag on your stereo.

Now the last song adversely affects the overall score, but even so, the first two songs are things that everyone who listens to black metal must experience.

Now about how you should acquire this EP: I really don't think a disc/tape/record of two good songs is worth paying the money for. This is a rare EP so I can imagine that the EP itself would be costly. To get this EP, either download it, or get the True Kings of Norway split with Arcturus, Dimmu Borgir, Ancient, and Immortal. The split itself is excellent. But I can't get off topic. On this EP are two NECESSARY Emperor songs so my advice would be to get the split.