Archive for the anniversary Category

Towards the Pantheon: 20 Years of In the Nightside Eclipse

Posted in anniversary, black metal, norway, true norwegian black metal with tags , , , , , , on December 27, 2014 by blackmetallurgy

I’ve said it once, and I know I’ll say it again, but Emperor really might be the best black metal band ever in my book. Their musicianship is brilliant, and the fact that they were able to compose such masterpieces so young is absolutely astounding. And nothing quite shows off what the young band was capable of like 1994’s In the Nightside Eclipse. Melodic, thunderously heavy, and as off-putting as it is lovely, Emperor’s debut full-length is an album that sits pretty near the top on most fan’s lists of the greatest black metal albums of all time.

While many bands have done the symphonic black metal thing since Emperor’s heyday, none have managed to pull it off quite as well as Emperor themselves. Because the keyboards and symphonic bits are not just embellishment in Emperor’s music in the same way that it is in the music of so many bands- the symphonic bits are integrated deeply into the fabric of the music itself, causing the songs to exhibit a shared genotype. Although In the Nightside Eclipse is not as cohesive as the later Anthems to the Welkin at Dusk in terms of the album sounding really seriously like a freaking symphony, you can definitely hear the start of something approaching that theme-like approach on Nightside.

The cover art is every bit as magnificent as the album itself, featuring goblin-like creatures wielding all manner of nasty-looking medieval weapons and storming towards a castle. The Death figure from the band’s demo, Wrath of the Tyrant, oversees the festivities, and the bright moon casts its shadow over roiling clouds and dark mountains. Fittingly, the setting looks a lot like Norway, with its craggy peaks and spear-like evergreens, and considering that the inside artwork (at least that on my CD version) depicts a Viking battle, I’d say that the culture of the frozen North is pretty much stamped all over the Satanic emanations of this album. For me, the most awe-inspiring aspect of the artwork is the way the landscape is bathed in the moonlight, a mix of frosty blue and purplish hues that I have come to associate with Necrolord’s work.

An HD wallpaper rendition by aerock36 on deviantart.

An HD wallpaper rendition by aerock36 on deviantart.

From fanarttv.com

From fanarttv.com

Nightside also contains some of Emperor’s most instantly recognizable tracks. Of course, “I Am the Black Wizards” is probably the fan favorite, a rad 8-bit cover by Darth Eniak having made waves on YouTube. And when I saw Ihsahn perform at Maryland Deathfest and he soundchecked with the opening riff to that song, I will admit that I sort of had a moment of fangirl madness. My favorite track on Nightside, however, is probably “Inno A Satana;” the classical-inspired riffs in the song emphasize what I love most about Emperor, their majesty and sheer musicianship.

2014 marks the 20th anniversary of what is easily one of the greatest black metal masterpieces ever created. Emperor’s debut full-length spawned a slew of imitators, but none have ever quite managed to compare. I was lucky enough to find a mint-condition LP of In the Nightside Eclipse earlier this year (the Back on Black edition), and I was overjoyed, as Emperor was my main reason for purchasing a record player. And now I’m going to go listen to it some more, because it’s never not a good time for Emperor.

-Hagalaz

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