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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.