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So, you say Emperial Live Ceremony was not enough to sate your urge for preservation of Emperor on the stage, and/or you were not able to attend their 2006 gigs at European festivals. This double-live album has you in its sites, and consider yourself shot. Live Inferno and Live at Wacken Open Air 2006 are both solid performances, but I might not be alone in questioning why the need for them to be packaged together. I mean, I LIKE that you're getting a lot more for your dollar...Disc 1 is 80 minutes and Disc 2 is 70 more minutes, but unfortunately the track listings are pretty much identical...
The Inferno festival is in Emperor's home terrain, so it makes a lot of sense that this would be the longer of the two sets, and truly this is loaded. In fact, this disc alone is better than either Emperial Live Ceremony (2000) or the Wacken disc included, and it features a more copious production that seems to better capture the atmosphere and surge of the audience. The keys are good and loud, without drowning out the guitars, and there's more of a low end. Surprisingly, despite their absence on the scene for years, the band does not seem to have let their limbs atrophy, and the guitar tones are rich and acrobatic. I don't think Ihsahn's voice here is quite up to its former state, honestly, but neither is it bad. Most importantly, this set has more tracks off In the Nightside Eclipse, and that fact thrills me. You get "Cosmic Keys to My Creations & Times", "Inno A Satana", "I Am the Black Wizards", "Towards the Pantheon" AND "The Majesty of the Nightsky", all of which sound phenomenal here, even managing to capture that rush of arrogant, nocturnal atmosphere found on the studio effort.
For newer fare, the albums are still well-represented. "The Loss and Curse of Reverence", "With Strength I Burn", "Ye Entracemperium" and "Thus Spake the Nightspirit" are all included from Anthems to the Welkin at Dusk; "Curse You All Men!", and "An Elegy of Icaros" from the IX: Equilibrium album. More of a thrill is that they included "In the Wordless Chamber" from their last studio effort Prometheus, which happens to be my favorite track on that album, and the horn strikes sound great, if a little soft. They've also got "Opus a Satana" from the Reverence EP used as an outro, which serves almost like a 'curtain' falling on their career, plus a medley of other material ("Infinity Burning") and a truly old school nod in "Wrath of the Tyrant". No real complaints at all here, they included most of the songs they should have on some live career retrospective and I'm sure the fans were blowing juices all over one another in excitement.
As for the Wacken (Germany) performance, it's somewhat shorter by 10 minutes, and the production and sound are comparable, with even more of an ambiance from the crowd rush. Unfortunately, the track selection here is identical to the Norse fest, sans the "Opus a Satana" outro, "Wrath of the Tyrant" and "Ye Entrancemperium", so this is simply not the favored of the two discs. It's this redundancy that somewhat hinders the value of this release, or at least in its audio-only format. It would have been truly epic had they varied up the track selection and given us even more impetus to purchase it, but that second disc drags its feet since it's not a better show than the first. Live Inferno alone is probably justification enough to own this if you're a diehard follower of the band, but as a product it could have been better. Then again, who knows if it was planned like this originally. The band probably just wanted to put their best feet forward at the gigs, and not worry about how the album would turn out.
When I started getting into more extreme forms of music, two bands showed me the way. Opeth and Emperor. Whilst Opeth helped me appreciate different elements in metal and music for that matter, Emperor would introduce me to my favourite genre of all..Black Metal.
To this day, they remain my favourite black metal band and remain in my top three bands of all time. For me, no black metal band can match the skill, atmosphere and elements Emperor produced. With their cold, dark and epic atmosphere guided by those great atmospheric synths, some of the most memorable riffs of all time (for me no band has produced a tremelo riff like Emperor), the most memorable songs, and the great vocals of Ihsahn, who to this day remains my favourite musician of all time. Of all the bands I want to see live, Emperor remains top of that list.
When it was announced in 2005 that Emperor were reuniting to headline Wacken 2006 and go on tour, I was so keen to go except working part time at the time was not going to get me far, so I had to forget about it. If it had happened today, fuck, I'd be over there in minutes! So I remain hopeful that they just might tour here after all.
At least one good thing has come out of not being able to see them live yet, and that is with the release of 'Live Inferno', which is a three disc set. Two live cds (Live at the Inferno Festival and Live at Wacken) and a DVD which is them playing Live at Wacken in 2006. What a phenomenal release this is. Of all my favourite live albums from Iron Maiden's 'Live After Death' to Between The Buried And Me's 'Colors Live', 'Live Inferno' in time could very well become my favourite live album of all time.
Everything on this is just amazing. The sound quality, the picture quality, the musicianship, the atmosphere, the set list. Given the fact that Emperor had been broken up for five years before this, their touch had not been lost. The tremelo picked riffs sound sooo fucking good on this. At times they sound better then they did on the studio recordings (In The Nightside Eclipse didn't have the best production). In fact, all the riffs have a great epic feel and hearing this from a live perspective is much more appreciative then hearing it from the studio.
Trym's drumming is blistering on every song and it is so impressive. The synth work is so theatrical and like always, it adds so much to Emperor's distinctive sound and atmosphere. And Ihsahn has not lost that 'Necro Starscream' shriek hehe. Of course, the clean vocals rule to but of course they don't sound as good as they do on cd. His guitar work is brilliant as always, being able to play the lead while providing the vocals. He is such an underrated guitarist. The solos he plays on 'Thus Spake The Night Spirit', 'Curse You All Men' and 'With Strength I Burn', for example, almost match the tremelo riffs or 'I Am The Black Wizards' and 'Cosmic Keys To My Creations And Times'. So impressive. He plays with great feel and almost looks effortless at times. It is also nice to see Samoth do some of the lead work on the DVD to.
They play all my favourites pretty much. The 'Infinity Burning' melody, which is half of 'Into The Infinity Of Thoughts' and 'The Burning Shadows Of Silence' put together is done perfectly. All the songs they play from 'In The Nightside Eclipse' sounds fantastic (that album dominates the set list to :-D ). They only play three songs from the last two albums which isn't bad (would have liked them to play 'The Tongue Of Fire' instead of 'In The Wordless Chamber' though hehe). The songs they play from 'Anthems To The Welkin At Dusk' are my favourite ones as well. The best song of course is 'With Strength I Burn', easily my favourite song of all time. Awesome that they played 'Wrath Of The Tyrant' as well. :-)
The set list on both cds are pretty much the same, but on the Inferno Festival disc, they also play 'Wrath Of The Tyrant', 'Ye Entrancemperium' and 'Opus A Satana'. So yeah, the Inferno Festival disc is the much preferred of the two. The backstage footage is pretty cool as well with various bootleg material, as well as interviews and even footage of them doing guitar lessons which is pretty cool as well.
The DVD...simply put, EPIC. Great sound, great picture quality, great atmosphere to as it is at Wacken so there is a HUGE crowd there to see them. The only thing negative to say is that the camera doesn't focus much on Ihsahn doing his lead work like it does on 'Emperial Live Ceremony'.
In closing, this is perfect for Emperor fans. It will not disappoint. Everything amazing about Emperor is shown right here. This is a perfect example why, for me, Emperor will always be the greatest black metal band ever. You seriously need to check this out!