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The Essential Live Album - The Essential Emperor - 95%

Kutulu, June 21st, 2005

This is THE Emperor album. In my opinion, at least. I have always liked Emperor, but after hearing this Live album on a friends computer I rushed out and got the cd and the dvd. Why? Because this Live Recording made me love Emperor.

But before I get to how many faces this album owns, I want to point out its only flaws. One being that this show is far too short, even one more track would make a world of difference and get this album a 100. But two or three more tracks would have been very, very nice. I would have liked to see Beyond the Great Vast Forest, Ancient Queen, and Witches Sabbath. But the songs they were more likely to play, The Curse and Loss of Reverence and Cosmic Keys to my Creation and Times would have been welcomed as well.

The only other problem, aside from that, is the inclusion of one song too many from XI Equilibrium. I know it was the album they were promoting for this tour, but three was a few too many tracks from that good(far from great) album.

But with that said and done, lets get to the reason why I think this is the best Emperor release.

This album, not only contains some of my favorite Emperor songs, but it also has them in a light I have never seen before. The 'light' is great quality. I always liked songs like Night of the Graveless souls, but to hear them play it and have it sound as excellent as it does is just awe inspiring. There was so much to this song I missed from the earlier recordings. Same with the songs from In Nightside Eclipse and even the ones from Anthems are improved.

The album takes off very well, with the exception of the long build up to the first song, with Curse you All Men! The best track from XI E. But after this the album does kind of take a down turn for the next track as when comparing them to the songs on the last third of the album, it just doesn't hold up. Like I said earlier, they could have put on some better songs. And Thus Spake the Night Spirit is a perfect example of one I would have traded. But don't get me wrong, the songs like this are still great respectively.

After this we are hit with I Am The Black Wizards, which is one of the best tracks on the album. Nothing I can say about this can justify how awesome this live performance of this song is.

After this we get to the most mediocre part of the album. The next three tracks. Good, but not great. What is great about all these though, is the fact that the vocals are changed a little bit, and the sound and tone is a little bit different. At least to me. And the change is for the better, it brings these songs into a new life.

Now we reach the pinnacle of the album, Night of the Graveless Souls. This one track steals the entire album. After its great drumming intro, it goes into a heavy, and almost crystal clear rendition of one of their best songs. You haven't heard this song until you have heard it on this CD.

After that, we reach the last two songs, Inno a Satana, and Ye Entrancemperium. Two songs that complement each other very well. With how Epic they are, they could almost be sequels to each other. The other great part about these songs is that Ihsahn does the vocals more clean. Which I see fitting the Epic feel a little more then your regular Black Metal Vocals.

One more gripe I would like to mention is that the bass lines are very hard to hear in this, it doesn't take much away, but Tyr is a great bassist and I would have liked to hear him play a bit more in the mix.

But after all is said and done it looks like my bitching out weights the good parts of it that I mentioned. But don't let it fool you, this is a great album and worth whatever money it takes to buy it or whatever time it takes to find it(hard to come by where I live). This is easily in my top ten greatest Live albums, if not number one. And this can easily go into my top 25 albums of all time.

Simply put, get this fuckin' album. Emperor are still the undisputed kings of Black Metal, if you ask me.