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An absolute masterpiece - 95%

Black_Metal_Bastard, September 17th, 2003

From the first note to the ending chord, you know this is gonna be one hell of an album, and it is. Everything is great about this album. The drums are spectacular, courtesy of Trym, IMO one of the best drummers in all of metal. Ihsahn's vocals are top notch, even topping his performance on In the Nightside Eclipse, and his guitar work is brilliant. Samoth is once again awesome and Alver's bass is sadly inaudible. The keyboards are wonderful too, adding a great atmosphere.

The album opens with Alsvatr (The Oath), and it definately sets the mood for the rest of the album. It takes you to, IMO, a medeval forest, full of trolls, vikings, and just, well, odd things. It has an incredible atmosphere. The battle horns at the end, to me, signify the Emperor's arrival, and he has come to kick your ass! Through the course of the album, you can't help but feel as if you are right there in the middle of the battle, sword in hand and fear in your mind. The highlight for me is definately With Strength I Burn. It is one of the most epic songs Emperor has ever done. The middle passage is beautiful. They even made a video for The Loss And Curse Of Reverence, which is a great song too. The video is set in a forest, with medeval ruins where the band is playing. Awesome, just awesome.

To me, this is Emperor's second best album, only losing the #1 spot to In the Nightside Eclipse. If you are an Emperor fan and don't have this yet (which to me would be absurd), then get this ASAP!!!! Long live the Emperor!!!