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Emperor - In The Nigtside Eclipse - 89%

Technogoat, March 23rd, 2007

Realistically, few bands can truly claim to have so heavily influenced an entire musical movement. However, with regards to Emperor, the aforementioned claim seems particularly justified. Having already released a relatively successful split EP with fellow Norwegian metallers Enslaved; the band’s first full-length effort saw them delving much further into somewhat uncharted territory within the early, simplistic Black Metal genre.

The haunting and cyclic introduction of opener “Into The Infinity Of Thoughts” creates an almost supernatural ambience, drawing the listener deep inside its alluring splendour, until finally rupturing under a striking resonance of thunder. Immediately, the band, as if spawned from the storm itself, let their primal ferocity surface. Drummer Faust leads the way, guiding the onslaught with extreme precision and varying pace. The accompanying guitars of both Ihsahn and Samoth sound appropriately painful and malicious, with Tchort’s bass guitar also enjoying a suitable level of audibility inside the overall mix.

The overwhelming energy conveyed during this magnificent initiation is strengthened even further with Ihsahn’s employment of subtle, poignant keyboard passages throughout. The beautiful melodic segments towards the end of closer “Inno A Satana” and throughout the majestic “Towards The Pantheon” are both particularly prominent and memorable, illustrating an intelligent and well-considered song writing ability. Vocally, the multi-instrumentalist Ihsahn creates an array of rasping and guttural screams, placing further emphasis on the dark, austere feeling of the entire composition. This is particularly stressed whilst reading the lyrics in unison, which are full of shadowy images and depressing tales of medieval gloom and ghostly figures.

A major criticism of this album over the years has focussed primarily on the apparently poor production job, yet the truth is quite the opposite: the production, shrouded in noise and filth, is extremely fitting to the album’s overall theme of mystery and obscurity. It was characteristically recorded at the infamous Grieghallen Studios, the site of most early Norwegian Black Metal recordings, but still sounds wholly innovative in comparison to the works of many other acts of the time.

Whilst remaining faithful to the ideals of the genre, with this opus, Emperor effectively managed to begin to cut loose from the developing droves of generic and tiresome sounding Black Metal bands, undeniably creating an inspiring and grandiose masterpiece. Never a band to compromise their artistic integrity or to bear the brunt of predictability, “In The Nightside Eclipse” was the beginning of Emperor’s path to innovation within what would unfortunately become an overly stagnant and derivative music scene.

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