Emperor - _IX Equilibrium_
by: David Rocher (
The fourth moon of 1999 would have had the mighty Emperor crowned, had he continued to exist in the dark symphonic shrouds of _Emperor_ or _In the Nightside Eclipse_, a shroud through which somewhat vulgar light had already begun to shine with the excellent but distressingly revealing _Anthems to the Welkin at Dusk_. Sadly though, the Emperor has turned his back to the tangible obscurity which reigned on his first full-length, _ItNE_, in favour of a "heavier" approach; a form of rather frantic black metal, which is in fact clearly tinged with the loud, hysterical tones of death metal, and in fact does the once majestic Norwegians much prejudice: complex yet unintriguing, emphatic yet unattractive... The heavy, clear and sharp sound they have now opted for indeed perfectly highlights all instruments, thus depriving _IX Equilibrium_ of any obscurity it may have retained; their tentatively "powerful" sound is however merely decent when compared to the crushing force developed by Peter Tagtgren on Immortal's latest barbaric onslaught, _At the Heart of Winter_. In addition to this, and even though Emperor have, as on _Anthems to the Welkin at Dusk_, taken great pains to take very resourceful arrangements to a new peak, and do indeed demonstrate very honourable technical play, most of the guitar lines played on _IX Equilibrium_ are dramatically uninspiring, and even often literally reek of deja-vu, as on the title "An Elegy of Icaros", which disappointingly sounds like a mildly blackened variation on themes from Morbid Angel's _Domination_, or the track "The Source of Icon E", which features Ihsahn in a laughably feeble vocal attempt to equal King Diamond. Quite honestly, _IX Equilibrium_ isn't a -bad- album, far from that -- as a matter of a fact, I might even have given it a disinterested but favourable welcome, had it been an unexpected assault from a lesser-known formation --, but it is certainly Emperor's most predictable, and therefore unconvincing, work to date, and sadly demonstrates that the band have opted for a musical orientation for which I do have trouble forgiving them, who spawned, anno 1995, one of the most enthralling opuses ever to sear the black metal scene.
(article published 5/19/1999)
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