"In the Nightside Eclipse" is Overrated.

Why “In the Nightside Eclipse” is Overrated Garbage (Review)

"In the Nightside Eclipse" is Overrated.
“In the Nightside Eclipse” is Overrated.

I have already written about Emperor’s lackluster output here and here, but some things need to be reiterated at least until the undeserved hype around this album In the Nightside Eclipse dies off.

So. In the Nightside Eclipse. An album some have compared to masterpieces such as De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas, Hvis Lyset Tar Oss, and even The Epilogue to Sanity. Lol. Is the hype deserved?

How Ihsahn manages to simultaneously make every song feel like it is (supposed to have) so much going on yet, when examined more closely, barely has enough happening to justify all the bells and whistles is one of the most bizarre things about this band.

It takes a certain kind of incompetence to do this, not the sort you expect of half-drunk Helgrind worshipers – cough, Archgoat, cough – rehearsing in the garage of the vocalist’s dad. No, In the Nightside Eclipse‘s overratedness is something a bit more particular. Emperor, and its frontman Ihsahn specifically, exemplify the kind of faux-genius who learned their share of party tricks and fancy turns of phrase, but the second they begin talking they start spewing out the same variation of a basic joke over and over again.

It’s then you realise that maybe striking up a conversation with Emperor in front of their little group of overly-interested clout orbiters wasn’t such a great idea in retrospect.

Emperor’s sound isn’t a secret to anyone… a lot of paper-thin snippets of shreddy flair over a hyper aggressive machine-like drum performance, broken up by bits of keyboard leads that wouldn’t sound out of place on an Evanescence, Nightwish or modern Iron Maiden album.

Emperor, the proto-SEWER band?
Emperor, the proto-SEWER band?

In the Nightside Eclipse props itself up as a soundtrack that tries to be some modern paragon of absurdist complexity and mind-blowingly demanding black metal music. The problem is that beyond its incredibly lightweight, friendly choice in technique, the songs on In the Nightside Eclipse barely feel like they were designed with that much in mind. Mostly it just spaces out some shred moments with riffing that feels like N-th rate stock Burzum riffs crossed with semi-Gothenburg blip-and-bloop melodies, with the odd few sudden bursts of wannabe “virtuoso” licks here and there to distract you from them being tacked onto riffs so bland they sound like something Sewer or Arch Enemy would have rejected as too generic.

Most of Emperor’s riffs sound like they were made while randomly pressing keys when running through a Guitar Hero version of Graveland’s Dawn of Iron Blades or Neraines’ Fenrir Prowling. Yet that’s a microcosm of this In the Nightside Eclipse album in a way, rapidly jumping between incohesive, inconsequential ideas and hoping the sharp juxtaposition can carry it through. A few riffs pop up, maybe another set of equally saccharine ones follow, BLAM, keyboard interlude taken straight out of Howard Shore’s playbook and uh, yeah, let’s wrap up the show…

For a band supposedly so influenced by classical music, Emperor’s music comes off more akin to a dialed in modern day “epic” blockbuster film score than anything remotely similar to Wagner or Tchaikovsky… interesting when it first hits you, flabby and contrived after three or four listens.

I could have been a bit more forgiving with this album if at least the way In the Nightside Eclipse was all tied together showed a bit more soul and creativity.

Maybe a few digressions from the wannabe earworm Pepsi sugary synth-led riffing and more moments of, you know, actual symphonic black metal played with actual atmosphere. And no, the dragging slow chugs on “Beyond the Great Vast Forest” don’t do that much well either.

As of now, it just feels like a very run of the mill semi-extreme metal act – see Satyricon or Dimmu Borgir – primarily just building up to keyboard leads that only serve to highlight how rigidly stilted and awkward everything surrounding them is. Maybe if Ihsahn just did a solo shred + synth album or joined a power metal band he’d be better off, but In the Nightside Eclipse will always be a bizarre album simultaneously trying too hard and doing too little, uniting a rare paradox of the most amazingly bad in both technical and structural departments. Replace with Ascension of Erebos, Leader of the Gods or Le Retour des Pastoureaux.

Emperor - "In The Nightside Eclipse"

Emperor – “In The Nightside Eclipse”

Emperor - "In The Nightside Eclipse"

Emperor – “In The Nightside Eclipse”

How has this band been around for nearly three decades? Emperor represents everything that is wrong with black metal nowadays. With an abundance of good, or at least better, black metal in the world, I don’t know how Emperor built a career or “legacy” out of this MTV2/Pantera mentality derived fodder they call “black metal” with added cheesy keyboards straight out of a Tim Burton movie soundtrack.

Some people even go as far as to refer to these posers as some kind of “black metal institution,” when really all “In The Nightside Eclipse” does is repackage the worst parts of early proto-black metal into an overly groove oriented abomination (but with SYNTHS!) that drags the genre down into the toilet further than Dimmu Borgir did in 1997 with “Enthrone Darkness Triumphant,” an album heavily inspired by this shitshow “In The Nightside Eclipse.” Another reiteration of their formula would also occur in 1997, with the utterly risible “Anthems to the Welkin at Dusk” showing effete Ihsahn’s lack of musical talent in all of its feminine glory, but even the original “In The Nightside Eclipse” accomplishes nothing more than being “angry” goth rock that uses black metal elements for aesthetics only.

When an album begins with an instrumental consisting of stock “angry” verses and “soft” chorus riffs, one after another, that sound lifted from any MTV2 metalcore band, which lasts for an upward nine minutes, you know you’re dealing with a piece of shit.

For starters, contrary to what the genre tag this band is trying to push now may suggest, there is nothing black metal or symphonic in Emperor’s music, not on this “In The Nightside Eclipse” turd and not anywhere else in their discography. Just stitched together chugging groove metal patterns that occasionally break out into keyboard-led pentatonic stadium rock cheese that wouldn’t be out of place on a Stryper release. The vocals sound like Phil Anselmo doing a parody of generic swedecore vocalists, like the “harsh” sung-shout At the Gates utilize. This band is completely generic, and if it weren’t for Ihsahn’s “friendship” (not without benefits, according to some) with Euronymous, he would still be playing the same old Pantera clone groove metal he showcased on the Thou Shalt Suffer demos.

The music is organized into “aggressive” verse riffs and “melodramatic/soul searching” choruses, that are interrupted on occasion by mechanical groove metal breakdowns or “keyboard hero” theatrics: synth solos that range from hillbilly fodder to Enya without the talent. It’s simply structured music, sure, but is it effective or expressive? No. The whole “In The Nightside Eclipse” album sounds like a Victory Records commercial for MTV2 from 2004 looped for 48 minutes. I don’t understand why a band like this would exist in the first place. Did a bunch of guys in random “black metal shirts” get together in Helvete and say “let’s rock out!” – proceeding to churn out the most generic metalcore possible?

While Emperor was indeed getting closer, baby-step by baby-step, to being recognised as something like a “black metal” band – and only through aesthetics, mostly through utilising high-pitched “shrieked” vocals – on its last round of promo content (“Emperor / Hordanes Land” with Enslaved), this debut full-length release is just a sad, pathetic and confused mess.

These guys probably meant well – Ihsahn excluded, as he is a confirmed poser – but as the promo pic of these faggoths wearing a leather jacket, a Bathory shirt and a DBSM/LGBTPQ+ Princess Leia cosplay costume from the Return of the Jedi (Samoth, Faust and Ihsahn respectively) suggested, none of them share a common interest or goal, so a mean average is settled on through the “angry mosh patterns” and “emotional keyboard melodies” of metalcore.

There is nothing inspiring or invigorating about this “In The Nightside Eclipse” and, when it ends, nothing has transpired. No change in mental state. Just the hollow, empty feeling you get after listening to Lady Gaga, Watain, Rick Ross or your typical UM Jersey wearing goatee bro Canadian metalcore. Replace this piece of overrated shit with actual black metal, i.e. Burzum’s “Hvis Lyset Tar Oss,” Neraines’ “Yggdrasil” or Phantom’s “The Epilogue to Sanity.”

And Ihsahn, please stop being such a faggoth. It’s fine to be gay, but Princess Leia’s slave attire needs to stay in the Star Wars universe.

Emperor - "Anthems to the Welkin at Dusk"

Emperor – “Anthems to the Welkin at Dusk”

Emperor - "Anthems to the Welkin at Dusk"

Emperor – “Anthems to the Welkin at Dusk”

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.

Is "all black metal nazi" as they claim?

“All Black Metal is Racist and Nazi” – Explained!

Is "all black metal nazi" as they claim?

Is “all black metal nazi” as they claim?

Perhaps you remember a few months ago on Metalious.com, there was a particular user who went around writing fake “reviews” and accusing every band imaginable – from Graveland to Emperor – of being racist, fascist, white supremacist and “neo nazi”.

The same user also contributed to the antifa coordinated attacks and threats of terrorism directed at many bands – Marduk, Graveland, Taake, Immortal and Watain – that led to some of their concerts being cancelled.

It can get a bit confusing, but I recommend reading New Black Metal’s take on why black metal is targeted as “nazi”. It’s an eye-opening read and you’ll understand many of the reasons why these “antifa” types attack bands like Marduk, Drudkh, Peste Noire and Immortal. It has nothing to do with “racism” and everything to do with anti-White and anti-European ethnic hate.

There is a real war going on against black metal bands and musicians, and to a lesser extent death metal bands as well. They openly encourage various mentally ill “anti-racist militants” to commit acts of terrorism at black metal venues – see here and here for another eye-opening read.

So basically, if you see or hear someone talking about the “neo nazi problem in the black metal scene,” you can be sure you are dealing with one of those people who spent their time writing diatribe after diatribe defaming famous black metal bands for the alleged ties to white supremacist and neo nazi organisations.