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Emperor - "In The Nightside Eclipse (20th Year Anniversary)" (CD)

Emperor - "In The Nightside Eclipse (20th Year Anniversary)" CD cover image

"In The Nightside Eclipse (20th Year Anniversary)" track listing:

Disc 1-Original Mix
1. Intro (instrumental)
2. Into the Infinity of Thoughts
3. The Burning Shadows of Silence
4. Cosmic Keys to My Creations & Times
5. Beyond the Great Vast Forest
6. Towards the Pantheon
7. The Majesty of the Nightsky
8. I Am the Black Wizards
9. Inno A Satana
10. The Ancient Queen (Additional Track)
11. Witches Sabbath (Additional Track)
12. Lord of the Storms (Additional Track)

Disc 2-Alternate Mix
1. Intro (instrumental)
2. Into the Infinity of Thoughts
3. The Burning Shadows of Silence
4. Cosmic Keys to My Creations & Times
5. Beyond the Great Vast Forest
6. Towards the Pantheon
7. The Majesty of the Nightsky
8. I Am the Black Wizards
9. Inno A Satana
10. The Majesty of the Nightsky (4-track pre-production)
11. The Burning Shadows of Silence (pre-production/rehearsal)
12. I Am the Black Wizards (rehearsal)

Reviewed by on August 5, 2014

"The choir keys are placed high in the mix that shrouds the album in a supernatural aura--like hearing infernal church music."

20 years is ample time to surmise the greatness and importance of Emperor's "In The Nightside Eclipse." When I first heard the album I was in awe with the atmosphere. The choir keys are placed high in the mix that shrouds the release in a supernatural aura - like hearing infernal church music. Ihsahn's feral shrieks rise to inhumanly high pitches. Bard Faust's drums and Samoth's guitar are built on speed but also entwine with the epic rise and fall of the keyboards. The intro has a pulsing flow that sucks you into a vortex. Then thunder jolts loose this hypnotic ebb and flow to introduce "Into the Infinity of Thoughts." The ascending rhythm on this track is very intense.

The whole album is fantastic, but other noteworthy parts include the opening of "I Am The Black Wizards." There is a hard stop-and-start rhythm that I envision as a wizard conjuring electricity from his hands. The choirs and clean vocals on "Inno A Satana" are also of note not only for their majestic quality but that this was the beginning of Ihsahn's clean voices. He would continue to refine his singing voice on subsequent Emperor albums as well as on his solo project.

Fans of Samoth's guitars are afforded a closer listen on disc two, which contains an alternative mix that pushes the keys back and brings the guitars forward. This disc reminds me of when I saw Emperor play the band's first U.S. show in 1998 at the Milwaukee Metal Fest. Emperor didn't have a converter for the keys, so the Norwegian outfit had to play without them. A keyboard-less Emperor drew attention to the distortion that creates atmosphere in the guitars, which stands out on this alternate mix.

In addition to the alternative mix, disc one contains additional tracks taken from "As The Shadows Rise" EP, while the second album contains pre-production mixes of "The Majesty of the Nightsky," "The Burning Shadows of Silence," and "I Am the Black Wizards." These tracks were previously unreleased as "The Akkerhaugen Tapes" and due to the poor sound quality (what do you expect from demos?), they could have stay unreleased. Akin to an old jazz record, the distant sound of the mix works well on "The Majesty of the Nightsky," while "I Am the Black Wizards" contains annoying fuzz and guitar feedback. From the echoing din of voices on "Witches Sabbath" to the floating-on-mist rhythm of "Ancient Queen," the three songs that end disc one are more palatable than the bonus tracks on disc two.

"In The Nightside Eclipse-20th Year Anniversary" includes a deluxe, hard book digibook packaging with restored cover artwork, along with rare archive pictures and content. While it's hard to stomach the demo material, it does add to the heft of this collector's item. This is definitely something fans of the group should pick up. Also, if you live in Europe, make sure to catch Emperor perform the entire album with a reunited cast.

Highs: Keyboards and the production result in an unparalleled ambiance.

Lows: The demo tape bonus material on disc two sounds awful.

Bottom line: A top five black metal album with a mostly solid collectors package.

Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls
4.5 out of 5 skulls


Key
Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)