Last updated: 02/15/2011 11:00:00 AM
Eventually there comes a time when the hype on a band becomes superfluous, and their status alone speaks volumes. Such is the case with Emperor, the black metal gods hailing from Telemark, Norway, who are without doubt the most influential and respected band within their genre, having launched a scene that is now beginning to burn its way out of the underground charnel pit and engulf mainstream metal culture in the blackest of flames.
Beginning life as a trio in the spring of '91 with Samoth (drums/vocals), Ihsahn (guitar) and Mortiis (bass). The band quickly recorded and circulated the now legendary "Wrath of the Tyrant" demo. It was this that brought them to the attention of the then still fledgling Candlelight record label . A deal was inked, Samoth moved to guitar and Bard Faust was recruited for the now vacant drum stool. By the end of the year the band had been once more into the studio to record their half of the "Emperor / Enslaved" split CD which was to eventually surface early in the following year. Mortiis departed for the band, and was after a while replaced by Tchort.
The press response was justifiably excellent and by the summer of '93 Emperor were record once more, but this time working on their debut full length "In the Nightside Eclipse". By the time of the albums release in 1994 they had become without doubt the most important band in the genre, gathering world wide critical acclaim and a rabid fan base to match.
In autumn of '93 a series of headline grabbing events (which are now quite sufficiently documented. For further reading check "Lords Of Chaos". Emperor would suffer the temporary loss of Samoth and the permanent loss of Faust, due to prison-sentences. However, before Samoth has to do time, the band managed to put together a new line-up, with new bass-player Alver, and a session-drummer.
Even though the band was seriously disturbed by the unpleasant confrontations of the imprisonment's and line-up difficulties, the entity of Emperor came out even stronger in the end. By the time Samoth was paroled, Trym (ex. Enslaved) had joined the band on a permanent basis, and the bones of what would become their most epic and majestic material to date were taking shape.
By the end of '96, now fully prepared and rehearsed, they were back in the studio. First firing off the "Reverence" EP to announce their return to the fold and then following up in early '97 with what is without doubt the single most ambitious and important black metal release to date......"Anthems To The Welkin At Dusk" . An album of epic savagery. Not only beautiful but bestial in it's wide ranging scope. The press agreed, not only did "Anthems.." feature in just about every "album of the year poll" in all 4 corners of the globe but they actually won the album of the year in both England's Terrorizer AND the U.S Metal Maniacs.
Since the release of the genre defining "Anthems.... " things have moved on again in the Emperor camp. Fresh from triumphant appearances at Dynamo and Milwaukee Metalfest the band announced that bass player Alver would be leaving once all live commitments had been fulfilled. As a result of this, all bass dutes on their latest masterpiece "IX Equilibrium" have been handled by Ihsahn.
The album itself is their single most breathtaking vision to date. Surpassing even the mighty "Anthems..." for it's sheer scope of diversity. Emperor have now moved so far ahead of the field that it would be unfair to even consider them a black metal band any longer. Utilising elements of their more traditional metal roots, operatic vocals and of course their trademark symphonic riffing the band have created an album so mature that it may well take the rest of the competition years to catch up... That's of course if they ever do!
Edited press-sheets from Candlelight/ Century Media