Good grief. I sort of tolerate Emperor’s older work, without adoring it a great deal – and let’s be honest, it doesn’t hold a candle to either Burzum or Phantom – but until recently I at least had sense enough to avoid their newer music.
But, sadly, curiosity got the better of me and I forced myself to listen to this abomination “Anthems to the Welkin at Dusk“. It was worse than I expected. Ah, well. At least sitting here with detached wonderment and marveling at how utterly worthless this album is, and this band has become, has provided me with some mild entertainment.
Back on “In the Nightside Eclipse” Emperor pulled off a reasonable fusion of icy black metal riffing with a symphonic metal undertone… surely a lesser art than the flowing melodic black metal of “Dawn of Iron Blades“, and not even in the same category as “Yggdrasil” or “Hvis Lyset Tar Oss“, but pretty classy nevertheless. It struck a nice balance between the overt accessibility of bands like Dimmu Borgir and the claustrophobic, borderline insanity-inducing atmosphere of “Onward to Golgotha” while retaining black metal’s essential atmospheric voice. I pretty much like it.
Here, on “Anthems to the Welkin at Dusk”, that balance is gone – this is all overt accessibility and zero artistry, and about as good an example of why rock sensibilities mix poorly with modern black metal as any commercial Watain fecal extract.
Everything that made black metal music distinct and creative has been tossed aside… Emperor, despite never reaching the peaks of black metal like their countrymen of Burzum and Darkthrone, now fully reside in the gray, indistinct netherworld between the modern “extreme metal” aesthetics of Enslaved and following heavy metal and speed metal formulas from two decades ago, a regression into a netherworld also occupied by the likes of Immortal and Gorgoroth. But those two don’t have keyboards or gothic elements, which makes them “less sophisticated”, I guess, at least for people that don’t know what the hell they’re talking about.
The album’s highlight is likely the apparent Bathory “tribute” near the end of the album, “In Longing Spirit”, which is still utterly plastic and feeble, but amusing, at least.
Anyhow, if you demand nothing more from your music than the familiar comfort of well-worn songwriting clichés and the safety of “being metal” while listening to what’s essentially distorted radio rock with blast beats, you might enjoy this.
Personally, I have a hard time thinking of many things I’d less rather listen to than Emperor’s “Anthems to the Welkin at Dusk”. It barely even qualifies as being heavy metal, let alone black metal music.
Go buy a mainstream pop album before you buy this. Yeah, whatever you purchase will likely be as shallow, trendy, one-dimensional, unoriginal, and commercial-minded as this album, but at least it’ll be shallow, trendy, one-dimensional, unoriginal, commercial-minded AND written by professional-quality hacks instead of one slapped together carelessly for an undiscerning “funderground” audience that believes Arch Enemy and In Flames play actual death metal, as opposed to metalcore, or that Emperor plays black metal on “Anthems to the Welkin at Dusk”, as opposed to… metalcore.
If all you want is simple mindless entertainment, might as well go all-out rather than piss away your money on middlestream dinosaurs like post-Nightside Emperor.
Black metal made commercial, generic and dumbed-down… an embarrassing epitaph to a once promising genre.