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Emperor - 22%

Noctir, October 12th, 2012

The Emperor E.P. was recorded in December 1992 and released in May 1993, by Candlelight Records. While it may seem like an appealing thing to acquire, upon first glance, it is not. Don't be fooled by the fact that it was spawned during the creative peak of the Norwegian black metal scene. This material is entirely sickening and hardly worth checking out, even based on curiosity.

Many years ago, after getting into Emperor, I was going back and checking out the older recordings and connecting with those far more than with Anthems to the Welkin at Dusk, which was their latest album at the time. For me, In the Nightside Eclipse was far superior, even if it did fail to match up to other records that were released that same year, like Hvis Lyset Tar Oss, De Mysteris Dom Sathanas, Transilvanian Hunger and Pentagram. Nonetheless, it proved to be a high quality album and also served to lead me to discover Wrath of the Tyrant, which I approved of even more. Thinking that the early Emperor recordings were relatively safe, I next moved on to the band's first E.P. This was soon realized to be a mistake.

Emperor features only four songs and clocks in around twenty minutes in length. Despite being so brief, it is time that would be better spent doing just about anything else, other than listening to this. The material consists of two new songs and two re-recorded songs, from Wrath of the Tyrant. Though the necro production of that release happened to be one of its main charms, there was still a bit of curiosity to hear a couple of those tracks in a somewhat cleaned-up form. In particular, the choice to include "Night of the Graveless Souls" seemed like something positive. However, upon actual hearing it, the true horror of this E.P. was revealed.

To be honest, there is not much wrong with the original version of "I Am the Black Wizards". It features a more primitive production and sounds a little nastier, which is a good thing. It would have been even better, had the keyboards been absent, giving us a more straightforward approach to this classic track. At times, there are odd vocal effects used, to give the impression of some sort of demonic voice, but it does not really fit well with this song. The other track that would later appear on In the Nightside Eclipse, "Cosmic Keys to my Creations and Times", is quite similar though clearly inferior. It includes even more synth and appears to rely on it a little more heavily. Neither one is atrocious, by any means, but they simply don't match up to the later versions and are not different enough to really warrant much attention.

The truly hideous part of this release comes in the form of the two re-recorded songs from Wrath of the Tyrant, "Night of the Graveless Souls" and "Wrath of the Tyrant". In their original form, these two tracks represented Emperor's take on primitive, old school black metal with a dark and evil feeling that was emphasized by the necro production. They were perfect, more or less, despite sounding a little messy. Giving the songs another try, one might expect a slightly clearer performance, thus allowing the listener to enjoy the sinister guitar riffs even more. This was not the case, at all. Emperor managed to completely butcher these songs, by adding in synth that was never meant to be present, killing the atmosphere and ruining these tracks and this release, in general. Without the idiotic keyboard use, these songs would sound great. Unfortunately, instead of maintaining their integrity, the band decided to try to modernize the songs by adding the synth nonsense that they had developed such a liking for, since recording the originals. It is somewhat tolerable on "Wrath of the Tyrant", as they at least tried to be somewhat tasteful and to match the synth up with the music.

However, in the case of "Night of the Graveless Souls", it was as if they were listening to something else, entirely. It sounds like they were actually attempting to ruin the song, as the synth is so goofy and cartoonish, not even remotely suiting the atmosphere of the song. This is exactly why the rest of the band should have taken Ihsahn outside and beaten him to a bloody pulp, the first time he showed up to rehearsal with his Casio in hand. Listening to this rape job makes me want to stab my ears with an ice pick, or take a hammer to the misguided hands that did this foul evil.

Emperor truly struck out with this release. While three of the four songs are mildly tolerable, none of them are as good as other versions. As for "Night of the Graveless Souls", this may be the true beginnings of suicidal black metal, as listening to this will make you want to kill yourself. Garbage like this somewhat foreshadowed future lame decisions that the band would make, taking the path toward mediocrity and utter putrid filth. Avoid this E.P. and stick to the other releases, pretending that this never happened.

Written for http://ritesoftheblackmoon.tripod.com

One Step Forward - 65%

CrimsonFloyd, June 8th, 2012

Emperor’s self-titled EP stands as an intermediate stage between the raw and rowdy Wrath of the Tyrant demo and the cultivated In the Nightside Eclipse. Two of the tracks are rerecordings of songs from the demo, while the other two tracks stand as first-drafts of songs that will be perfected on the full length debut.

Emperor amends a number of the flaws that plagued the messy Wrath of the Tyrant. While this is still fairly lo-fi black metal, the instruments are much more balanced. While Ihsahn is still growling in a somewhat annoying, high-pitched tone, it is nowhere near as loud or dominant as it is on Wrath of the Tyrant. Emperor also marks the introduction of Faust on drums. While the percussion is nothing astounding, Faust does provide more variety and precision than Samoth did. Samoth moves to his natural position as a guitarist.

This EP also marks the introduction of the keyboards into Emperor's sound. The marriage of black metal and synth gets off to a shaky start. Obviously, the quality of the keyboard used here is significantly inferior to the one used on the full-lengths. It has a very thin and one-dimensional tone. Sometimes Ihsahn makes it work, i.e. the spooky backdrops on “Wrath of the Tyrant”. However, on a number of occasions the keys sound embarrassingly campy, i.e. the weak synth lines on “I am the Black Wizzards” and “Night of the Graveless Souls”.

The two tracks that are found on In the Nightside Eclipse are fairly irrelevant. The recordings on the full length are superior in every respect, reducing these versions to historical footnotes. That leaves the two rerecordings from the demo. “Wrath of the Tyrant” sounds excellent. The shifts in tempo make for a dark and invigorating journey and the addition of the keys adds plenty of depth to the piece. However, “Night of the Graveless Souls” trades one problem for another; the musicianship is superior, but the tacky keyboard lines really downgrades the overall quality of the song.

Musically, there isn’t a lot to criticize here. These are four very good compositions; heck, “I am the Black Wizards” and “Cosmic Keys to My Creation and Times” are truly masterful pieces of songwriting. However, the sub-par vocal performance and the inconsistent keyboard work makes these manifestations forgettable. When one takes into account that there are superior forms of half of the tracks available, Emperor becomes a fairly unimportant recording.

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

A storm warning, indeed, but get the split version - 68%

autothrall, November 10th, 2011

Emperor's eponymous mLP release might have seemed menacing and sophisticated for its time, but as a standalone 'product', it does suffer from the inconsistency of its contents and the fact that it's also available in far more viable formats. For example, it appeared on a split with countrymen Enslaved's Hordanes Land EP in the same year, which is where most people were likely first exposed to both of the bands. In 1998, it was re-released with the original Wrath of the Tyrant demo, for a more complete package of the band's formative material. Obviously, both are better bargains than attempting to track down the original, isolated Candlelight 12" and pay exorbitant prices for a copy (there were so few made), and there's also the fact that two of the songs will be re-recorded for In the Nightside Eclipse, in a more potent, obsessive and symphonic format that I have always preferred.

That said, I'm certainly not trying to play down the significance of what is on this EP. Two of the tunes are culled from the Wrath of the Tyrant demo and have this utterly disgusting aggression to them which merges simplistic riffing in the vein of Hellhammer or Bathory with some of the most filth-caked, lunatic rasping the genre had produced by this time. It might have come six years later than Deathcrush, but clearly Ihsahn was giving Maniac a run for his money, and it's so abrasively loud and resonant throughout the mix that it actually smudges up the grimy guitar tone a bit. Not that either of these tracks features the most superb riffs of the Emperor catalog, but "Wrath of the Tyrant" and "Night of the Graveless Souls" represent an important, early stage of their composition that would dramatically evolve. Hell, it evolves right on this disc, as we are also treated to the legendary cuts "Cosmic Keys to My Creations and Times" and "I Am the Black Wizards", both with a more buzzing tone to the guitars than one would recognize from the ensuing, flawless full-length, and some slight variation in the keyboards.

Both are longer and considerably superior in structure to their elder siblings here, and for this reason I feel that the EP creates a bit of a dichotomy that stands out like a sore thumb on such a brief release. I can recognize the cult appeal of their earlier material, but I'm sorry, there is just no contest with the ambition and attitude the band had begun to shift towards, and even the lyrics seem like they're escaping from the ghoulish grave-soil of the demo and exploding out into the universe, a poignant projection of the Norwegians' ego. To be fair though, I do feel like these earlier interpretations of the new songs are wretched enough to sate fans of that dirtier tone, so something might be said for the crude approach in its entirety.

Ultimately, Emperor is rendered retroactively inert due to its presence elsewhere, and the fact that none of its content is exclusive. Record collectors would and should go bat shit over this if they can track a copy down, but for everyone else, there are better alternatives, especially a chance to check out Hordanes Land (which came out only about a month later). As a forceful introduction to Emperor and what they do, it's adequate, but as a 'product', I'm indifferent to its long term appeal, especially since the band's evolution was so swift in such a short time, and the best songs here sound far better to me amidst their peers on the full-length debut.

-autothrall
http://www.fromthedustreturned.com

the black hills consists of black souls - 98%

TowardsMorthond, September 1st, 2011

In the splendor of pure representational structure, Emperor’s music explores a dark and morose fascination with existence as the journey to the depths of nothingness, in the fullest creative intention of magnificent nocturnal atmosphere and expressive melodrama.

“He is the wind, He is the storm
He is the woods, He is the roots
Nobody will escape the wrath of the tyrant
Forever the beast shall wander the earth”

These songs are vast realms of imagination substantiated through the nature of arranged development, creating sweeping majestic atmosphere through theatrical keyboards and grand harmonic expansion to produce a soundworld through which is portrayed the beauty and meaning in darkness and ‘evil’. Ghastly screeches from the abyss of the tortured spirit give conceptual expressive definition of violent radical passion against standard convention, shrieking forth from a Romantic perspective of noble separation and freedom of independent spirit over necro-toned guitar riffs of ominous shape, structured in the classical music tradition of unfolding sequential communication, while lucid melodies stream in extended phrases of illuminating brilliance. Restlessness of spirit is symbolized in well-defined, continuously active, fluctuating rhythms, guided by excellent rhythmically intuitive drumming with impressive handling of quick and precise tempo changes, propelling motions of speed with ambient-style percussive pulse, with fast momentum-enhancing fills marking measures in the beat-pattern and rolling pace of determination in mid-paced and slower movements.

“All these landscapes are timeless, and this is all just a part of cosmos, but all is
mine and past and future is yet to discover... Much has been discovered, but
tomorrow I will realize I existed before myself. I will be reborn before I
die”

Produced with a clarified raw and natural sound, with emphasis on guitar tone but satisfying definition and detail on other instrumental elements, this four-song EP represents Emperor at a peak moment of inspiration and creative purpose. Conceptually esoteric in an aristocratically spiritual sense, what fuels this cryptic, feral music of Romantic hostility and its themes into realization is sublime veneration of pure and wild nature and seething hatred for the fraudulence of the human social order, and a motivation to artistically communicate these sentiments in a form that awakens primal essence and stimulates imagination into the stars.

The start of an Empire? - 85%

19ThePreacher88, April 15th, 2010

I just listened to this EP twice back-to-back in order to get my bearings for where I wanted to go with this review, and I think I've finally got it.

This was Emperor's first official release if I'm correct, (and also possibly one of the first symphonic black metal albums), but for what it's worth, it's really fucking good. I'm not one for too much black metal, but for some reason this band is appealing to me. This black metal EP from 1993 is nothing short of a symphonic, aggressive little masterpiece. Everything from the kick-ass cover art to the dark, synthesized keyboards and epic choir singing, this is a completely revolutionary album that speaks straight from the depths of Darkness himself. The under-produced instruments just add to the effect, and they even stop to offer some good ole' breakdowns.

One of the things I really find appealing about this EP is that it mixes many different styles of music; from classical, to satanic death metal, to even showing their thrash metal influences. It's obvious that they drew inspiration from early Slayer and Venom, which makes this even more enjoyable. Symphonic black metal is one style of music that I'll have to look more into, and it's all thanks to this four-song EP from Emperor.

And now that I'm done praising this record, I'll delve into what I dislike about it. The vocals could use more variety, for starters. I know, I know, "Get the fuck outta here!!!", right? I understand that black metal is notorious for their high-pitched screams as vocals, but it can get pretty repetitive and slightly annoying. Gladly, though, the poor production of of the music itself drowns out the vocals most of the time, so it doesn't take away from the awesome instrumental performance. Other than that, I'm a type of person that would like to hear this with some more brutal sounding elements, you know? Faster, heavier, and more of the darker sections rather than fantasy-glorifying keyboards.

So all in all, this EP gets a well-deserved 85% from me, and it'll certainly get more listens in the future.

Seminal black metal art - 100%

mutiilator, April 13th, 2008

From the opening riff of "I am the Black Wizards," one immediately knows they are in for something good with this EP. This, my friends, is history.

Although the sound here is starkly different from what they would eventually become, this is Emperor in their rawest form. Two of the songs would even be re-recorded for In the Nightside Eclipse, their follow-up debut full-length (the other two are re-recordings from their Wrath of the Tyrant debut). Gone are the copious, overbearing synth lines, instead replaced with more subtle, supportive keyboards that add texture to the buzzsaw sound of the guitars. There are amazing, mournful breakdowns scattered around, including a monumental one which ends off "I am the Black Wizards" very nicely. Ihsan's vocals sound familiar, but different from the what they would eventually come to be. Overall this creates a very dark, cold, and bleak atmosphere. I suppose the fact that at this point the lyrics were more based upon occultism, Satanism, evil, darkness, and the like, helps this to a degree. Although, these days, this lyrical content is not exactly original, it is with the unique sound they developed early in their career that allows them to be distinguished from their founding contemporaries.

Emperor would change a lot after the release of their demo and first couple of EPs, but remnants of their original sound still linger in their more-recent material. This change would also be reflected in the other bands that Emperor's members came to be involved in. Even the contrast created in the alternation of demo and non-demo tracks, as distributed on the EP, show the effect that a year can have.

Overall this is a seminal EP that clearly illustrates just how important Emperor was to the creation of black metal and all its derivatives that have accumulated over almost two decades. Although they garnered enough criticism in their latter years, they persisted, and helped to change the face of extreme metal throughout their reign.

Way Better Than Nightside - 95%

SunGodPortal, February 27th, 2007

I know many will disagree with me, but I think that Emperor's self-title EP and "As the Shadows Rise" are much better than "In the Nightside Eclipse" for two reasons and is the best of their pre and post "Anthems" material. My main beef with "In the Nightside Eclipse" was with the production. There was a ridiculous (almost comical) amount of reverb that simply did not work with the guitars, reducing them to an indecipherable and hollow buzz that was smothered by synth and drums. The other problem I had was with the remakes of "I Am the Black Wizards" and "Cosmic Keys." They just sounded rushed and were pale imitations of the originals, which I thought were nearly perfect.

I'll start by saying that I love the production and mix of this release. It has a very clear and warm sound, unlike most BM albums and also has an appropriate amount of reverb, which is even more rare in black metal. Every instrument can be picked out easily, except for the bass. It can be heard, but you have to listen a few times to really know what you are looking for since the distortion makes it blend in with the guitars, giving off the impression that it is turned down too low, but really it is not since it can be easily recognized once you get familar with it. My favorite thing is the drum sound: thick and natural. The bass drums sound awesome like on a real drumset (triggers: BARF) and don't have that really, really, really gay and unnatural "click" sound like most metal albums which is just terrible and I can't stress how strongly I truly, truly hate that godawful noise. The toms sound great too. Every time I listen to this I can barely resist the urge to start drumming all over the place. It has nothing to do with the production, but I think Bard's drumming is a lot more creative here than on "Nightside" where he pretty much did what any other black metal drummer would do, which is to play with little to no expression or style of their own. Not much else to say about that. Hearing this while stoned makes me want to melt. Mmm-mmm-mmm...

Now, the songs themselves are roughly on the same level as "Wrath of the Tyrant" but maybe a little more atmospheric and with less Celtic Frost coming through. The keyboards are probably where the extra atmosphere comes from, but the riffing seems to have adjusted a bit to better incorporate that element as I can't see them fitting in very well on the "Wrath..." demo. I've noticed a few people didn't like the keyboards during the chorus to "Night of the Graveless Souls," but I love them. They sound a little goofy, but in my opinion black metal can't be taken seriously anyway since it and most of it's participants are so far from the reality of this world. That part actually reminds me of Sigh, who would record their godly and recklessly adventurous debut just a year later in 1993.

I've always liked Emperor's early lyrics. They're dark, but not overwhelmingly so and seem to be mostly concerned with painting some weird/interesting fantasies about witches, black magic and whatnot like something from a Nintendo game or a japanese super hero show like a few seasons of the Super Sentai series. Icing on the cake.

In my opinion this is where Emperor started to develope their own sound and set themselves apart from what was going on around them at the time by writing music that was harsh, slightly complex, beautiful and inventive, but more importantly mature. In 1992 Emperor were way ahead of their peers because unlike Darkthrone, they didn't sound like a parody and unlike Burzum their music wasn't half-assed and with poor and incompetent musicianship. Both of those bands had some great songs and ideas, but neither had a sound as deep and sophisticated as Emperor at the time. Darkthrone could have, but they decided to give up playing real music after "A Blaze In the Northern Sky." The only other band I can think of that had released anything at the time that matches up in mood/atmos and originality was Hungary's Tormentor, who had sadly disbanded a year or so before.

This is classic early BM, but with brains and talent, not one or the other. I highly recommend this to new and seasoned black metal fans whether you like your music simple or complex as it is somewhere in the middle.

What Started It All - 99%

noinnocentvictim, September 30th, 2005

This album cannot be given a price, nor can it be granted a true numerical value, as it established what would soon be the greatest band of all time. It's a short, simple 4-track demo, yet is also one of the most important.

This CD starts with "I Am the Black Wizards," which is one of the greatest songs ever written, and even though keyboards are hardly accessible through the deep layers of distortion and guitar melodies, this still lives on as an excellent track. It ends with a profound sort of feel to it, and you begin to wonder if this song will ever be topped.

The next song introduces itself with a way that will allow you to see through the layers of distortion for once. Double bass blasts from the drums come off as subtle, though they are one of the driving forces behind this song's intro. Solid drumming aside, the the synthesizers are very prominent in this song, adding a nice background touch, yet not deriving from the greatness of the guitar lines to be found within this song. Melodies play out in a way that seems to lead you to believe you are about to encounter something greater than just a song. These melodies keep adding up, and will be stuck in your head for days--no, weeks--after this song is given a few listens to prove its worthiness.

"Night of the Graveless Souls" kicks things up again, bursting right in with guitar melodies that are present yet easy to get lost within under the bursting of the drums and song's overall gloomy atmosphere, complemented by an arpeggio progression on the keyboards before a moment of soft clarity serving as a segue into more chaos. This song's form is the best that Emperor released out of two or three different renditions. Synthesizers are clear, yet once again do not derive at all from the guitars or drums.

"Cosmic Keys to My Creations and Times" is another classic to be re-released along with "I Am the Black Wizards" on Emperor's "In the Nightside Eclipse." This version has synthesizers, but in all fairness, the re-release of this song painted a better picture with clearer, darker sounding keyboards. This song is very memorable, regardless.

This is the greatest demo ever, and achieves a sound almost equal to perfection.

Perfection - 100%

Perpetual_Winter, April 2nd, 2005

I’m going to make a bold statement right now. Many many people will disagree with it, but I really don’t care. You cannot take 4 songs off of any Emperor full length and get a better combination of songs than this EP, which of course, was on a split with the black metal/Viking gods Enslaved (their side entitled Hordane's Land), its also available on the CD version of “Wrath of the Tyrant”.
This EP is flawless. It starts out with the ultimate version of “I am the Black Wizards.” Sure, this track is also on In The Nightside Eclipse, but the underproduction of this version just helps create the atmosphere that was intended for the song (a song about one dark being controlling all evil or “black wizards”). The following just continue in the same vein of music as “I am the Black Wizards.” It is black metal with absolutely lots of memorable riffs (for those not familiar Emperor is not minimalistic), harsh tormented vocals, and keyboards that do not overwhelm the music. The keyboards are not a featured instrument and that is simply the way black metal should use keyboards if at all. The drumming is very punkish on this when they leave the blast beats, which happens quite often. Faust is not the drummer that Trym is, but the drumming on this album is fits the music very well, and he doesn’t constantly use the same fills (and its not triggered which in this type of music just sounds stupid).

Production-wise the guitars are thin, and there is a definite hiss; you really can’t hear the bass all that well, but that is expected in this style of music; the drums don’t drown anything out they are perfect in the mix the bass and snare sounds are good; and the vocals aren’t too loud and the music doesn’t ever drown it out. In my opinion this is where Emperor peaked. Most people will disagree with me and that is fine. I do respect all of Emperor’s work, but in the end I always find myself coming back to this EP.

A preview for things to come - 98%

Black_Metal_Bastard, April 13th, 2004

Everyone knows who these guys are, and everyone knows these classic songs.

After the great Wrath... demo, the band went into a real studio to record these tracks. We get two new ones and two re-recorded Wrath... songs. The new songs, I am the Black Wizards and Cosmic Keys To My Creations and Times are excellent, epic songs. They show the spirit of Emperor at such a young age, yet are not pretentious or boring. These two would make it to In the Nightside Eclipse, with even more keyboards and a more epic feel as well.

The two old songs, Wrath of the Tyrant and Night of the Graveless Souls are in better form here, with a tad better production and the addition of some keys here and there. When I say better production, I don't mean Abyss production, or even Grieghallen. This is still very raw, and the guitars coming off as loud buzzes in all the chaos. Ihsahn's vocals are raspy, high pitched wails that sound tortured. Faust's drumming is excellent. Fast, precise, thunderous. Samoth is now on guitar for this, and he is excellent too. Mortiis plays the bass and at times it is audible, you just have to listen to this more than once to hear it.

This is essential Emperor right here. If you want to check these guys out, this is highly recommended. This is one of my favorite Emperor releases, along with In the Nightside Eclipse. Black Metal fans, eat your heart out!

Emperial Wrath unleashed - 98%

Lord_Jotun, January 2nd, 2004

Unrestrained talent can't be held back, yet Emperor's ascension to underground godlike status was fast and universally acknowledged almost beyond comprehension. With just one demo out, they found themselves with a contract signed to Candlelight Records and a large fanbase longing for more Emperial hymns to feast upon. The demand, however, was no match for their capabilities. A frist an important big step forward was the establishment of a full line-up which was secured by the inclusion of drummer Faust, hence allowing Samoth to switch back to his original guitar duties at Ihsahn's side. Ihsahn himself started using keyboards, creating that unique atmospheric way of berforming Bacl Metal that has become more and more popular over the years but Emperor definitely pioneered.
Thus armed and ready, Emperor entered a "proper" studio for the very first time at the end of 1992 and recordeda total of seven songs; five of these were re-recordings of "Wrath Of The Tyrant" choice cuts, while the remaining two were brand new Emperial symphonies. These new entries, along with two reworked classics, were picked up for the very first official Emperor release, the infamous self-titled EP which would also be released as part with a split album with Viking Metal masters Enslaved, and was the very first record to be released with Candlelight's label.

The band's progression from their demo days, despite the rather short chronological distance, is already enormous. This is where Emperor finally found their own sound and embarked on their quest for worldwide Black Metal supremacy. The EP opens with one of the two new songs, a classic with a capital "C" which claimed the throne for Emperor right from the very beginning... "I Am the Black Wizards". This song has, simply put, everything Emperor have been celebrated for, except clean vocals: fast, precise and intricated guitar riffs, overpowering drums, manic vocals and great keyboard interventions, always coming in and leaving at the right place and time without ever becoming overpowring or tedious. This song begins with a very fast section featruing arguably Emperor's best known guitar line, to evolve into a very atmospheric part in the middle and return to the first riff backed this time by a very slow rhythm.
The production is predicatbly raw, but not as bad as one might expect. The guitars have a most peculiar sound, with one of them being very buzzy and distorted and the other more muffled but much more clear; the combination of the two sounds as well as Mortiis's bass (it's barely perceptible but trust me, you can feel it's there after several listens) builds a thick wall of sound that the lousy prodctuion fails to wash away. The drums are also rather clear, although the snare and some cymbals get a bit drowned in the mix especially in the faster bits; the bass drum is very powerful and in the double bass bits it creates a sort of rumble which supplies a much needed low end to the complexive sound. The keyboards are a huge surprise, because I would have never expected them to sound so full and clear on such a raw soundnig record; yet their majestic presence is there right from the slower parts of "I Am the Black Wizards", and is an essential part of the picture. Ihsahn's vocals are weird here. He uses a evry high pitched and not excessively comprehensible shriek, and that's ok, but at times he tries a lower growl-like voice which gets completely garbled and stifled by the production; probably he wanted to use an effect that would have worked in a better studio but went almost completely wrong here. His spoken part at the end of "I Am the Black Wizard" comes out rather low and powerless too.

Next is "Wrath of the Tyrant". the re-recorded title track of the band's legendary demo. Here we can compare the band's new sound with their previous output, and even without considering the very obvious sound differences, the band's progression comes out as unbelievable. Keyboards are much more basic on this song, which is a good thing as they provide a deeper backdrop to an already atmospheric song, and some sections are stretched to longer lengths to give room to newly added dual guitar passages (the band had only one guitar on the demo); the new rendition is terrific and enhances the really disquieting, "under the reign of terror" atmosphere of the song.
"Night of the Graveless Souls" is another song from the demo, made even fatsre by Faust's great drumming; the keyboard line in the break after each verse is damn funny but very clever and effective; on the other hand, that weird noise added just before the fade out is completely unnecessary and slightly dumb... whatever. Another great reworking of an already good song.

The EP closes with "Cosmic Keys to My Creations and Times", another epic track in the vein of "I Am the Black Wizards"; both songs definitely show the direction Emperor is heading towards. This one is generally faster than the first, because it stays fast almost all the way through the final riff, where it slows down considerably. Sadly, the great keyboards here are drowned out or distorted by the production, and the vocals have again some problems,a nd the spoken part just before the last riff sounds even more chocked and unintellegible than the one on "I Am the Black Wizards". Despite all the sonic drawbacks the song comes out very good and much more complex than the demo-era material. Another promise of greater things to come...

Very rarely an EP manages to represent the potential of a band, but Emperor have definitely succeeded here. If you enjoyed "In The Nightside Eclipse" you can try this out, for the spirit is similar, with an extra touch of rawness. Fans who are trying out Emperor for the first time and are already familiar with Black Metal might also want to check it, although I'd still recommend "In The Nightside Eclipse" or "Anthems To The Weklin At Dusk" for a deeper insight of the band's sound. Anyone looking for raw yet melodic and essentially great Black Metal can go for this blindfolded.

Interesting - 80%

webermg, October 10th, 2003

This one consists of 4 songs from Emperor's early days, two of which would go on to be featured on In the Nightside Eclipse. I believe Mortiis is still playing bass here, though that could be wrong.

Of the two ItNE songs, there's not much to say. Essentially the same songs, with a weaker keyboard sound, fuzzier guitars, and a generally more amateurish production job. I prefer the ItNE versions, but some people like the rawer sound on this EP.

Wrath of the Tyrant is an ok song, though they had better ones from the demo of the same name. I would have preferred a rendition of Ancient Queen or Witches Sabbath over this one.

Night of the Graveless Souls, on the other hand, is great. I wish they would have gone on to include it in the lineup for ItNE. It's short, fast, and to the point. It would have been better if they left out the keyboards entirely though, they sound kind of silly.

Not a bad EP, and gives a good representation of Emperor's early sound. If you desire something rawer, the Wrath demo might be what you're looking for.

Crude and vicious Emperor, right here. - 71%

Estigia666, March 16th, 2003

Emperor's first output comes out as the type of record Darkthrone would make. Nah, actually not, but the production comes out close as that of "Under a Funeral Moon", only a bit less artificial. This is raw as fuck, but you can tell is Emperor from the way the songs are composed.

And comes out well made, too. This mCD's version of "I'm the Black Wizard" is superior to that of "In the Nightside Eclipse", with the keyboards sounding eerier and more "distant". Ihsahn's vocals are so evil sounding, too. There are also some low points, like "Night of the Graveless Souls" which isn't as strong as the two songs before it.

Wow, this was a short review. Anyway, it would be worth the effort of getting this if you like Emperor's debut. IMO, the atmosphere here is much stronger, only inconvenience is that it comes out too short.