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Unstoppable, Limitless Black,
This review is from: Prometheus: the Discipline of Fire and Demise (Audio CD)There's few bands who manage to make black, and darker things as a whole, sound as bleakly colourful as Emperor did. Their debut was to many poorly produced but the sound that emanated from the cracks was truly inspirational and genre busting. There are also few bands that can manage to successfully retire, leaving their past, present and future fan base with a collection of unmistakeable and utterly obliterating satisfactory albums, and then end their career with the finest album of their career. Some might say, including myself, that Emperor left the thrown leaving behind the most applaud able performance that black metal has heard.
A mere nine tracks is all it takes to create a masterpiece, according to the learning's of many under Emperor's reign. All nine of these expressive 'suites' Emperor have created are all distinctively Emperor, the churning, purposely under-tuned guitar riffs, the almost gurgling, horrifying vocals and the occasional flourishes of orchestration somewhere in the background, and occasionally allowed to have sections of their own to add to the seemingly haunted atmosphere. And when Emperor go full pelt, they are the best in the business and it is here for all to see, particularly in the blistering 'Grey' and the wonderfully turgid 'Depraved'.
Now if you're a first time venturer into black-metal, feel free to start here, it's a good place to start if you feel that you can take the exhaustive nature that each volume contains. However, if you've recently purchased Dimmu Borgir's somewhat tainted, 'Death Cult Armageddon', enjoyed the orchestral moments combining with the metal riffs and you've heard that Emperor are a symphonic black metal band, don't jump straight into here expecting every song to be beautifully orchestrated. When the orchestra is there it's magnificent, just don't expect to hear them perfectly. After all, 'Death Cult..' has incredibly crisp production, while 'Prometheus' has good production, but still remains gloriously turgid, where Dimmu Borgir lose some of their quality through that. Put simply, Emperor is black-metal first and foremost, and it shows. The orchestration is only used in the best places, when they are at their most apt. I would name moments, but there's that many individual moments on a mere 9 tracks, that it'd be confusing for both me and yourselves.
And that's what Emperor left us with, a dizzying, but utterly superb black metal masterpiece. Opener 'The Eruption' is exactly that. After the opening, whispered '...and after years in dark tunnels, he came to silence.... there was nothing', in comes a beautiful orchestral moment that is merely a tension builder for the absolutely obliterating assault that follows. And it's a damn long one. They all are, but they all work equally well and do not tire, both musically or in your own mind, such are the time changes and such is the musical montage put before you. The riff in 'The Prophet' for example is absolutely towering, even through the purposely slightly turgid production. Imagine if you will, a large microwave destroying a popcorn factory, and you get a vague idea of the magnitude of this riff, and of this album as a whole.
The closing 'Thorns On My Grave', however is Emperor's finest moment, it's a shame and an irony that it is the last song they will make together. At least for now. The orchestration and the apocalyptical lyrics and vocals come together at their most sweetest and horrendous in Emperor's goodbye, and they could only leave writing a song about dying slowly, which is what Emperor's reputation was expected to do. However, they are merely gaining more and more fans by the week, and 'Prometheus' is not only the best place to start if you feel like signing up to join this particular government, but is also Emperor's finest, and maybe even black-metal's finest achievement too. Intense, atmospheric and ultimately made to rule, Emperor's last will certainly be a lasting achievement and one that will influence many future genius' as the likes of Venom and Mayhem did with Emperor, and along with, maybe just under, Opeth's 'Blackwater Park', 'Prometheus' is the best album of the new millennium so far.