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A milestone and major source of influence - 100%

grimwinter13, June 8th, 2017

The history, controversy, and impact of black metal is of no unfamiliarity to us, just as we all recognize Emperor as a major player in that era. Black metal was truly defined in the 90s, and I firmly believe that In the Nightside Eclipse is the finest example of the genre. Even Mayhem's De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas falls slightly short of Emperor here, in my honest militant opinion. But it's not contemporaries like Mayhem and Gorgoroth I would compare Nightside to.

In the Nightside Eclipse can easily stand out from its contemporaries, and if anything is better seen as an innovative work that instead looked to the future of the genre. Not just later bands in Emperor's 'child' - the symphonic black metal genre they created and owned - but any of the other more artistic subgenres: ambient, DSBM, progressive black. While Immortal were pounding out blast beats and crushing spines, Emperor took to creating a much darker, more visual form of black metal. The cover art itself, a depiction of Tolkein's orcs marching to the Black Gate, sets the overall tone of Emperor's epic sound.

While many might disagree with me, Emperor were both symphonic and ambient. With all of tracks clocking in at around 5-9 minutes, each song is more a piece, or a movement so to speak. The lengthy pieces spend time focusing on something more than just being faster than the northern winds - each guitar riff, each orchestral section, every lyric, every tempo change is thought out carefully and played somewhere between ferociously and gracefully. In the Nightside Eclipse, even with how evil it is, it's really quite beautiful.

And best of all, it's something more than just a collection of songs. This isn't one of those albums you put on your phone and pick one song to listen repeatedly. No, it's an album best heard in its entirety, front to back. The full 50 minutes captures an atmosphere so unique, even Emperor themselves couldn't replicate it or top it later.

But if I were to have to choose favorite songs, my picks go to "I Am the Black Wizards" and "Beyond the Great Vast Forest". The latter is the most melodic, putting emphasis on the symphonic parts and atmosphere. "I Am the Black Wizards" is maybe the fastest and heaviest on the album, being the one song closest to the more raw, blast beat-driven sound you'd hear from Mayhem or Immortal.

In the Nightside Eclipse also stands out in terms of production. While black metal's very life force may come from the sheer power of 'being recorded with a potato', one cannot deny that the clearer, more balanced production on this album worked very much to Emperor's benefit. Faust and Samoth are the most prominently heard members, but Tchort is in no way drowned out. Actually, Ihsahn's banshee-like howls are the most backseated aspect in the mixing - giving them less of an in-your-face punch, and ending up being an eerily distant 'screech in the night'.

The influence In the Nightside Eclipse left on black metal is remarkably important. Following symphonic acts (Dimmu Borgir and Marduk for exmaples) took direct inspiration from this album. The haunting atmospheric elements and patient song structures drip all over DSBM artists like Xasthur and Leviathan. This album was major game-changer. If someone asked me, "What is black metal?" I would immediately hand them a copy of In the Nightside EclipseDe Mysteriis Dom Sathanas, I would feel hard-pressed to make such a quick statement like that when compared to Emperor's ultimate masterpiece. And for a bonus: Anthems to the Welkins at Dusk was a perfect follow-up. Lots of people actually prefer Anthems to Nightside. And I totally understand their reasoning. Still, I give all the credit to the one that started it all.