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On their first full-length release, Emperor performs melodic and atmospheric black metal of epic and symphonic quality, presenting an enigmatically dark and mystical soundworld of sublime experience. These songs present their composite ideas in a dramatic unfolding of events in continuity, with dynamics in pace and mood designed to represent self-appointed meaning applied to an experience isolated within its momentary filter but valued as a progression in the journey of life, portrayed by anticipatory and reflective transitions in harmony, guided by flowing perceptual melodies of transcendent aspiration and atmospheric astonishment, exemplified most astoundingly in the chilling beauty that is the final moments in “I Am The Black Wizards”, the mighty explosion into blasting ascendancy in “Inno A Satana”, and the cold, windswept soundscape defining the breakdown in “The Majesty of the Nightsky” and its thrilling rise to reverential affirmation.
“Too long I have suffered the desert sands of time
But as I drown in darkness it will release the sign My soul will leave this mortal coil of flesh and earthly life
to fly into the mist of night
into the nightside eclipse
and experience existence on the other side”
Streaming melodic riffs in extended phrases form the defining character of each song with representational distinction and progressions towards tonal and rhythmic changes, communicating the purpose of hierarchical sequence observed in nature’s ferociously necessary order of operation, reflected in the substance of the inner-self, magnified in the character of spiritual striving and agonizing existential discovery. Keyboards provide a variety of gleaming reflections to sweeping guitar melodies, casting an epic glow of magnificent majesty to enhance a stunningly diverse atmospheric range of frigid, dark, and profoundly melancholic moods.
“As the Darkness creeps over the Northern mountains of Norway
and the silence reach the woods
I awake and rise... Into the night I wander”
A persistent but effortlessly drifting rhythmic motion moves these songs through the blossoming of their thematically reflective events, propelled by drumming of powerful determination in stamina and definition of percussive patterns, mostly at whipping speeds of gliding motion, breaking down to slower movements to build anticipation for passages of grand revelation. Evil and obscure phantom shrieks emerge from the shadows as absurd voice of the dark forces of nature, self-liberated from the expressive limitations of rigid, structurally ordained vocal arrangement, rather finding ambiguous space within the riff-patterns to explore the emotional levels of a given thematic episode.
“My wizards are many, but their essence is
Forever they are in the hills in their stone homes of
because I am the spirit of their existence
I am them.”
Through the recognition of essential universal nothingness perceived in the purity of darkness, Emperor identifies an aristocratic self-empowerment as independent creator of substance and meaning within the connective identity with the power and beauty of nature, merciless as it is without the concept of mercy to fulfill its ends, and experienced as a spiritual awakening process of increased knowledge and awareness, aesthetically communicated in the extreme passion of romantic sensitivity, but with the unyielding strength of purpose-oriented wrath and serious creative motivation beyond the standards of expectation. Richness in artistic imagination and innovation of ideas gives Emperor the gift of compositional genius to which is applied a technique in service of conjuring the primal wisdom and majestic beauty of nature through modern instrumental warfare in a brilliant and inventive musical spectacle of fierce individuality and transcendent glory. The only flaw is the uneven and vague production, which gives great clarity and emphasis to keyboards and guitar sound, but blurs distinction of the full range of the drum kit, and drowns out vocals to the extent that a significant degree of the vocalist’s expressive presence is often lost to the oblivion of indistinguishable sound; the far more organic sound of the self-titled EP would have been much more suitable to this material, evidenced in the comparison between that release's versions of “I Am The Black Wizards” and “Cosmic Keys To My Creations and Times” and the more bombastic versions presented here, stripping Emperor’s music of a certain degree of primal ferocity, but not enough to significantly impact the experience of one of the most compositionally imaginative, beautifully atmospheric, melodically resplendent, and expressively powerful albums in black metal’s history.