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They really fell flat on their faces. This, is obviously what happens when Ihsahn's Peccatum clashes with Samoth and Trym's Zyklon- you get a shitty progressive-extreme metal albumn that you give to your cousin that just got into Dimmu Borgir for his birthday, because it will blow his fucking mind and he will inevitably become a bigger fan of their older (albeit, much better) material.
I received this albumn as a gift when I told a friend I wanted an Emperor albumn (was hoping for Anthems), and was eager to listen to it anyway, just because it was Emperor, and from my then-experiences with them, they could do no wrong. I was wrong. I was greeted by one of those "What the fuck..." moments when I heard Ihsahn's chorused wail. The riffing was good, the drumming was solid, but keyboards had no place at all in the whole albumn. I can imagine Ihsahn and Trym coming to blows over the fucking keyboards (which were thankfully replaced by an actual string section on the next albumn).
Ihsahn usually writes his lead parts extremely well (see: I am the black wizards) but this was really Samoth's albumn to shine on. His rhythm guitar work is well written, and actually lends more to melody than the retarded guitar and keyboards.
Things finally start to look up when the confusing (retarded) song titles and whimsical, lighthearted songwriting goes out the window with the arrival of Sworn, my favorite track. I am guessing Samoth cunt-punched Ihsahn into submission and forced him into submission for this song, since it's obviously a no-holds barred extreme metal assault (the keyboards are barely heard here, which is fucking awesome). Unfortunately, that moment ends, and it's time to start sucking until the intro hits.
Buy this albumn only if you are a huge Emperor fan, and I regret listening to this when Emperor is one of my top 3 favorite bands of all time.