Emperor: In The Nightside Eclipse

The first truly symphonic black metal album

Emperor’s first full length, “In the nightside Eclipse”  is considered a milestone in the black metal community for several reasons. The first would be its introduction to the use of keyboards. Albeit said use is minimal, usually only utilized with only 2 notes that “clean” the more melodic passages of the rhythms. It helps in creating an intense experience as the blast beats provided by drummer Faust are relentless, offering a kind of melodic cacophony. In most cases, once the keyboard laden melodic passage fade, the guitars return to a very punk (weather the influence is intended by the band or not) aesthetic and simplicity, three note passages that repeat before going into a chorus or another section with keyboards and blasts. This may sound boring, however the genius behind Emperor’s craft is tasteful decisions of the arrangement and the intelligence behind choosing the length of each passage, nothing repeats to the point of being redundant, but just enough to make it bitter-sweet. This description fits well with the first two songs “Into The Infinity Of Thoughts” and “The Burning Shadows Of Silence”. The next song, third track “Cosmic Keys To My Creations and Times” is where things evolve to a more complex structure, despite the aesthetic remaining fundamentally the same. Another obvious punk influence comes through in the drums, with the so-called skank beat, putting emphasis on groove,which then delves into what Emperor have truly cemented as their own, a melodic loop akin to circus music, with the drums, keyboards and vocals permeating the same rhythm, and then immediately jumping into a slow sludge of sound, a passage that is backed with ‘chanting hymn’ type of keys. What this does is create a truly epic atmosphere, giving it a visual quality, that allows you to close your eyes and let your imagination run with colors, fantastical settings, and otherworldly beings. I believe that this track, and almost from this song onwards is where the true Emperor sound is fully explored. It’s as if they have truly found their sound with this song and have understood their own formula. The confidence of said discovery is heard on the rest of the tracks, sprinkled in varying degrees. The two closing tracks “ I Am The Black Wizards” and “ Inno A Satana” are hands down the strongest tracks, with the first being THE Emperor classic, as it embodies everything described in this review, melody, groove, hymn like chanting, slow epic parts backed with keyboards, and the introduction of some spoken word, doubled vocals catchy guitars. Not only do they use the formula to its most impactful potential, but push it a level where it truly encapsulates them and defines them. “ In The Nightside Eclipse” rose to infamy, quickly influencing many of their peers and creating the metal subgenre “Symphonic black metal”.