Emperor is a Norwegian black metal band formed in 1991. They are regarded as highly influential by critics and emerging black metal bands. They dissolved in 2001, but reunited from 2005 to 2007 for a few festival dates and brief US tours, and will once reuniting in 2014. Ihsahn and Samoth met as youngsters and the two young men began playing together under various names; first Dark Device, then Xerasia, then Embryonic. The group soon evolved into the now well-known band Thou Shalt Suffer. Soon, however, Samoth began to write music outside of Thou Shalt Suffer, and together with Ihsahn and a new bass player called Mortiis (later of his own eponymous band Mortiis), Emperor was formed. After a short while together, the band released a demo entitled Wrath Of The Tyrant. After a record contract was signed, Samoth moved to rhythm guitar, Ihsahn continued the vocal duties and lead guitars, and Faust was recruited as a drummer. In the summer of 1993, the band began working on their first full-length album. Emperor ceased wearing corpse paint, they stated that it was becoming a trend and losing its original significance and symbolism. In 1994, Samoth was sentenced to 16 months in prison for burning the Skjold Church in Vindafjord, together with Varg Vikernes. . In 1994, In The Nightside Eclipse was released, earning Emperor more notoriety. After Samoth’s parole, the band was joined by Trym and Alver on drums and bass respectively, and at the end of 1996, Emperor entered the studio to record Anthems To The Welkin At Dusk. Featuring a much more progressive sound than their earlier works, Anthems to the Welkin at Dusk won the ‘album of the year’ by a lots of European magazines and critics. Continuing their career as a trio, with Ihsahn handling keyboards , vocals, guitars and bass, the band recorded their third album IX Equilibrium and toured Europe and the United States. It was around 2000 when Samoth and Trym started to gravitate more towards more of the death metal style, while Ihsahn directed his musical exploration towards the more artistic and progressive side of extreme metal. In 2001, Emperor decided to disband after releasing one final album, Prometheus: The Discipline of Fire and Demise which was composed entirely by Ihsahn. Emperor would go on to reunite in 2005 for a slew of shows up till their break up again in 2007. Now in 2014 Emperor is headlining all sorts of European festivals.
The amount of influence Emperor has spread over the years and across the many sub genres of metal is exponential. The mere greatness they exhibit in their playing and songwriting is fantastic. While not for everyone Emperor are pioneers and took it to the next level for extreme music.
By: Brian Lacy