Home > Music > Emperor – Anthems to the Welkin at Dusk (The Retrospective Continues)

Emperor – Anthems to the Welkin at Dusk (The Retrospective Continues)

Told you I was going to continue reviewing Emperor’s discography.

Firstly, “Anthems to the Welkin at Dusk” is a far more violent album than its predecessor. The production’s more incisive with a greater tendency towards treble frequencies, Ihsahn’s vocals are shifting from high pitched shrieks to lower, throatier ones, but most importantly, the new drummer Trym (of Enslaved fame) blasts more and far faster than Faust ever did. Now, outside the difference in aesthetics, Anthems really isn’t hugely different from its predecessor in terms of composition. On the other hand, this is a “riffier” album – the predecessor had plenty of riffs, of course, but they were integrated more deeply into the compositions, playing around the keyboards and drums, creating a symphonic effect. It would be blatant lies if I said that aspect of Emperor’s sound was gone here, but it’s diminished in role.

So we’ve established that Anthems is far different from, yet not actually all that different from “In the Nightside Eclipse”, but not yet why, and that’s a very difficult question to answer. There’s a couple of possible factors here. Firstly, his bandmates got jailed for various periods, and while Samoth got out in time to record Anthems, Faust got to stay in magic prison land for over a decade (obviously, Faust’s influence must’ve waned, hurp durp). Secondly, Ihsahn worked on various projects within the scene – an EP with Zyklon-B, some ambient neoclassical stuff with Sigurd Wongraven (of Satyricon), and he may have taken some influence from the experiences. But thirdly, and perhaps more tellingly, the black metal scene circa 1996-1997 was drastically different from the small inner circle that started it. For proof, just look at the albums released around the time. Lots of experimentation – I touched on this briefly when I reviewed “Phormula” by Ephel Duath.

Anyways, “Anthems” is probably the archetypal Emperor album and seen as a classic of black metal. But it’s pretty removed from archetypal black metal – the production is much better than average, the musicianship is emphasized (even more so than Nightside), Ihsahn uses his clean vocals to much greater extent, and so forth. Instead of creating a murky atmospheric, almost mystical recording as they did with their predeccessor, this recording actually ends up blurring the line between black metal and death metal, often showing the raw aggression of the latter, yet still generally keeping the melodic tendencies of the former. That alone makes this album hard to classify, but then there’s the symphonic elements, such as the keyboards and the clean vocals. Then there’s the Samoth written outro, which seemingly attempts to recapture some of the atmosphere on the first album, but by then things are over.

Essentially, it’s the followup to what was essentially a monolithic album that everyone and their mother must’ve worshipped it, and very likely the point where a couple people decided that they didn’t like where Emperor was going before burying themselves in… well… whatever they would bury themselves in; I’m not one to speak for hypothetical pseudopeople. As it is, I’m not going to rate this one just yet. I like it and all, being big on Emperor and such, but I don’t think it’s on the same level as its predecessor. As it is, the best song on here is probably “Thus Spake the Nightspirit” , with its obvious “epic” tone and progressions running up and down scales. Other standouts include “The Loss and Curse of Reverence” and “With Strength I Burn”.

First things first: “Anthems to the Welkin at Dusk” is a far more violent album than its predecessor. The production’s more incisive with a greater tendency towards treble frequencies, Ihsahn’s vocals are shifting from high pitched shrieks to lower, throatier ones, but most importantly, the new drummer Trym (of Enslaved fame) blasts more and far faster than Faust ever did. Now, outside the difference in aesthetics, Anthems really isn’t hugely different from its predecessor in terms of composition. On the other hand, this is a “riffier” album – the predecessor had plenty of riffs, of course, but they were integrated more deeply into the compositions, playing around the keyboards and drums, creating a symphonic effect. It would be blatant lies if I said that aspect of Emperor’s sound was gone here, but it’s diminished in role.

So we’ve established that Anthems is far different from, yet not actually all that different from “In the Nightside Eclipse”, but not yet why, and that’s a very difficult question to answer. There’s a couple of possible factors here. Firstly, his bandmates got jailed for various periods, and while Samoth got out in time to record Anthems, Faust got to stay in magic prison land for over a decade (obviously, Faust’s influence must’ve waned, hurp durp). Secondly, Ihsahn worked on various projects within the scene – an EP with Zyklon-B, some ambient neoclassical stuff with Sigurd Wongraven (of Satyricon), and he may have taken some influence from the experiences. But thirdly, and perhaps more tellingly, the black metal scene circa 1996-1997 was drastically different from the small inner circle that started it. For proof, just look at the albums released around the time. Lots of experimentation – I touched on this briefly when I reviewed “Phormula” by Ephel Duath.

Anyways, “Anthems” is probably the archetypal Emperor album and seen as a classic of black metal. But it’s pretty removed from archetypal black metal – the production is much better than average, the musicianship is emphasized (even more so than Nightside), Ihsahn uses his clean vocals to much greater extent, and so forth. Instead of creating a murky atmospheric, almost mystical recording as they did with their predeccessor, this recording actually ends up blurring the line between black metal and death metal, often showing the raw aggression of the latter, yet still generally keeping the melodic tendencies of the former. That alone makes this album hard to classify, but then there’s the symphonic elements, such as the keyboards and the clean vocals. Then there’s the Samoth written outro, which seemingly attempts to recapture some of the atmosphere on the first album, but by then things are over.

Essentially, it’s the followup to what was essentially a monolithic album that everyone and their mother must’ve worshipped it, and very likely the point where a couple people decided that they didn’t like where Emperor was going before burying themselves in… well… whatever they would bury themselves in; I’m not one to speak for hypothetical pseudopeople. As it is, I’m not going to rate this one just yet. I like it and all, being big on Emperor and such, but I don’t think it’s on the same level as its predecessor. As it is, the best song on here is probably “Thus Spake the Nightspirit” , with its obvious “epic” tone and progressions running up and down scales. Other standouts include “The Loss and Curse of Reverence” and “With Strength I Burn”.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: