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Merits some listens, but not again and again - 57%

Wez, April 4th, 2005

"Emperor/Wrath of the Tyrant" is the best place to get a comprehensive look at the really early work of Emperor. Even remastered, the sound of everything is very weak. I guess the whole special "necro" atmosphere is preserved in these recordings, but the loss of being able to hear any clearly defined instruments makes it awkward. It's sometimes almost like Ihsahn balefully wailing and screaming over a fuzzy noise (those are guitars and bass?), with some bashing on cardboard boxes somewhere off in the background. Black Metal never had to be terminally unlistenable to fulfill its purpose convincingly: "In the Nightside Eclipse" is a testament to that.

A piercing sizzle on the recording makes the "Emperor" EP tracks virtually unlistenable, and the mucky sound burys most of several well worked through songs that would in time manifest themselves as formidible bastions of the Emperor catalogue. That also goes for some of the tracks that only appear on the demo. The "Wrath of the Tyrant" demo lacks the irritating sizzle, but is an even lower budget recording. To its credit, Ihsahn sounds like the foulest creature from the very depths at times on here, which nicely complements the foul nature of the recording. It makes this release somewhat worthwhile to hear him hacking up Mortiis' lyrics with a far more malignant personality to all the other Emperor work. Those are mortifiying screeches and squeals. Jim Carrey couldn't make noises like that.

A couple of songs off the demo would be reworked for the future full length, but are much better functioning there than here. It makes for a nice ride for curiosities' sake, but if I want to hear those songs, the "...Nightside Eclipse" versions do much better for me. I don't think it gets much past a few listens to find out where Emperor came from before it's back to the shelf and gathering dust. The mildly curious need not apply.