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A brief history of my time in the eternal infinity of the never ending under the trees black dark beyond all forests of Norway space:
I first got this album in 1995, December I think. Remember that this was when black metal was taking off and really big, and everyone that I knew was really hyped about Emperor, this album in particular (I preferred their songs on the split with Enslaved at the time). Truth be told, I didn't really like the album, I actually found it hard to listen to, and what is the point of that?
Fast-forward to 2002, I was in Taiwan, computer-less and desperate, and I saw the Prometheus album in a store, and picked it up, and really enjoyed it (I was starved for new metal then, Cannibal Ferox 'And then they ate his penis!' starved. So I thought 'Well gee, gosh, Lemmiwinks! Anthems was the suck, but maybe Emperor ain't so bad'.
With that in mind, I ended up in 2009 in China, where I found a digipack of this album in a store, for a measly 10RMB (less than two yankee dollah!), so naturally I, uh, picked it up like I pick lice from - I bought it.
So, what am I trying to say here? I'm saying, just like conservatism and incest, give this album a chance.
First criticism - this album suffers from a bad production. Yes, it's early second-wave Norsk Arisk Krush Joo black metal, but it's technical, and has a lot of intricacies, which unfortunately are hard to hear. And that's my biggest beef about this album, it sounds like you've just thrown a wet blanket over your speakers once you put it on; it sounds muffled, not raw, not 'true', just drowned out.
Second Christendom - while there are good riffs, after the third song, it is basically muzak, background music, until we hit 'I Am The Black Wizards', but when the riffs are there, holy cow they are good. Cosmic Keys To My Creations And Times has a great guitar riff in the beginning, as does I Am The Black Wizards. The vocals are fair enough, but all sound the same, in every song - don't expect a lot of variation, except in Inno a Satana, which has some clean (yet muffled) vocals.
Speaking of muffled (I love that word, reminds me of mumsy), the drumming is would/could/should be awesome, but once the blast beats kick in (yes, like Immortal, Emp uses 'da blasts') you can hardly hear them. Again, production issues. And therein lies my main gripe with this album, it seems like so much is going on, but you can't distinguish one thing from another. Sure, you have shining moments littered here and there, which is the album's saving grace, but I just feel that it could've been so much better. That said, I do enjoy this album these days, it has a nice background atmosphere, and out of eight songs, four of them stand out a lot (uh, long song titles), namely 'Into...', 'Cosmic Keys...', 'I Am Whack...' and 'Inno...'.
Obviously these guys are talented, and for a first album it is a great album, but the one-sided vocals, lack of bass guitar, and intermittent good riffs make me sad. There is a consistent/inconsistent feel to this album, half greatness and half 'huh?' and boredom, if that makes any sense.
So should you get this album? Probably, but it is not essential, yet for the time it was released it was 'groundbreaking', as it was a really different approach to black metal when compared to the likes of Darkthrone, Beherit, Burzum et al. It is safe to call this the first technical black metal album, with a classic black metal production, which it never deserved. If any album needs to be remastered it is this one, take away the muffling.