Emperor - _Reverence_
(Candlelight Records, 1997)
by: Henry Akeley (7 out of 10)
Of the three songs on offer here, only "The Loss and Curse of Reverence" will appear on the band's upcoming full-length. In a couple of ways, this song seems "busier" than Emperor's earlier material: there are more discrete sections than in most earlier compositions, and the production is a bit more layered and polished. Personally, I think that these developments actually tend to subtract from the classic, "epic" Emperor vibe. Still, all the band's trademarks are present - Ishahn's vocals, haunting melody lines, and segments of icy, synth-washed speed. But this time, the numerous sections are generally too short to permit the buildup of any sustained atmosphere. One of the main riffs is punctuated by an annoying squealing guitar that makes me think more of Sunset Strip than of Spitzbergen, and more squeaky wah-wah effects seriously mar what would otherwise be the grimmest moment in the song. There is a pause for a corny-sounding spoken exhortation, too. Most of the song's individual parts do retain the basic Emperor feel, but somehow the whole assembly of parts just doesn't congeal as effectively as their earlier material - at least not for me. (Of course, this is the "Video/Chaos Mix" of the song, so perhaps the full-length version will differ.) The second track, "In Longing Spirit", is a reworked version of an older song from 1992. Slow, moody, heavy on synth and light on guitars, this one showcases some nearly-spoken vocals which have a tinge of the pompous goth style to them. Not a bad song overall, but nothing special either. Closer "Opus a Satana" is an all-synth reworking of the mighty "Inno a Satana", arranged and performed entirely by Ishahn. It's surprisingly enjoyable, with cinematic sweep and sprightly momentum. Fun stuff.

(article published 13/5/1997)

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