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Emperial Live Ceremony (Audio Version)

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Album Review

As black metal's fully enthroned reigning kings, Emperor are truly an interesting, intriguing act, combining the soaring, operatic, orchestral sensibilities of classical music with the pomposity, technical skill, and brutality of various types of heavy metal. What emerges from that Norwegian cocoon is something entirely new, or if not entirely new, then a fully realized version of something that had been attempted by other acts. This live disc, which also incorporates multimedia — a video for "I Am the Black Wizards" and Emperor screensavers — was recorded and engineered during European touring for Equilibrium IX. Whether or not the tracks have been overdubbed — after all, black metal is not an easy medium to work in — remains fairly dubious. The drums have certainly been triggered, but whether additional vocals or guitars were cut, who knows. One thing is certain, Emperor prove mightily adept at conveying the full range of human emotion in song; from soaring, anthemic leads, to deep, murky Mahler-esque moods; to capturing the frightening solitude of a cold Scandinavian winterscape. Emperial Live Ceremony is not one of the best live albums ever recorded — or, for that matter, overdubbed and studio crafted, but it does indicate this outfit's superior abilities, songwriting abilities that eclipse most others working in the black metal idiom.


Formed: 1992 in Notodden, Norway

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '90s, '00s

When attention first focused on Norway's almost cartoonishly violent black metal scene in the mid-'90s, Mayhem were dubbed its godfathers, but most of the critical accolades were bestowed upon Emperor, whose musical innovations have had more impact on the genre than any other band. Norwegian black metal was rife with anti-Christian sentiment, but Emperor found novel ways of expressing it in their music; while their music could be furious and violent, the group was also influenced by the darkly majestic...
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Emperial Live Ceremony (Audio Version), Emperor
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