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This one is definitely one of the most brilliant releases in the extreme-metal history. After having released a mile-stone like "Anthems To The Welkin At Dusk" in 1997, EMPEROR did not commit the fault to pray before their own altar but burned it down and created something even more brilliant! Shurely this is no Black Metal anymore - "IX Equilibrium" stands high above it on the conceptional and specially on the lyrical side. Ihsahn has finally become a musician and songwriter who draws his ingenious inspiration from his own thoughts and has not to care for any sort of conventions. In fact the songs like "Curse You All Men", "An Elegy Of Icaros" or "Sworn" have lots of weird harmony-progressions that emerge from the twisting melody-lines created by 4 "voices" (2 guitars, bass and the enchanting melody-glances of the synths). The grandeur and opulence of "Anthems..." appears only in particular moments ("An Elegy...", "Nonus Aequilibrium"), but is brilliantly replaced by bizzare moods that are provoqued by the music's inner power - an effect that can only be achieved with a high level of compositional mastership! Ihsahn's lead guitars are marvellous, (but in fact only a hint on what is to come on "Prometheus" 2 years later...) the drumming is even more impressive than on "Anthems...". All in one: almost perfectly done by an ingenious mastermind, but it may confuse many people who lack the musical understanding and who are more into "polemic" music and don't understand the subtile anatomy of these harmonies and songs. But who is a little bit experienced in demanding music will have to admit that this oeuvre is nothing other than just tremendously brilliant!