Emperor - _Prometheus - The Discipline of Fire and Demise_
by: Chris Flaaten (
This is it, the last Emperor album ever. _IX Equillibrium_ disappointed both critics and some fans, so there was quite some pressure on them for making this an excellent album. Ihsahn composed everything this time. So what is the result? The album is very guitar-oriented, even more so than _IX Equillibrium_. There is great variation in tempo, vocals, riffing and arrangements. It all sounds good, doesn't it? Still, I can't seem to love it. In fact, I get in a bad mood every time I listen to the album. It is really hard to explain why, though. I have listened to it in its entirety dozens of times now and there is no explanation in sight. The problem lies in the essence of the term "musical taste". On paper, so to speak, this album -should- appeal to me; but it really doesn't. Why not? It's the reviewer's nightmare -- it's very hard for me to objectively point out the reason why this album just isn't that good. I have to try, though, so I'll go through a few issues. The first track, "The Eruption", starts with a classical, Bach-influenced intro, and then bursts into heavy riffs and blast beats. The drums sound awful, as I think they always do when recorded in Akkerhaugen studios. In fact, Akkerhaugen delivers an utterly mood-deprived production and strips away any magic that lies in the compositions themselves. Another fact that is quite apparent is that Ihsahn uses overtone and other high-pitched effects in his guitar work much too often. The structure of most of the songs also seems -too- complex. I am not normally intimidated by complexity -- Spastic Ink and Spiral Architect's latest albums are two of my favorites --, but here everything is just too fragmented, causing the songs to lack identity. Luckily, there are three exceptions: "Empty", the third track, which starts very aggressively, then moves into some classical passages where violin (synth) glides into lead guitar harmonies and then turns back into a brutal drive; "In the Worldless Chamber", the sixth and by far the strongest track, with hypnotizing synth/riff arrangements, crushing groove and a truly majestic feel; and finally "Thorns on my Grave", the final and fastest track on the album, which features a slight _In the Nightside Eclipse_ feel. These three songs save this album a great deal, but one still gets the impression that the composer wasn't truly inspired and motivated when writing this album. Writing out of duty and not out of passion has its consequences, even with the talent of a professional of Ihsahn's caliber.
(article published 10/19/2001)
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