Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Emperor "As The Shadows Rise" (1994)

For the longest time Emperor have been one of my favorite bands and given my recent revisits to "In The Nightside Eclipse" and "Anthems To The Welkin At Dusk", two sublime records, I thought it would be nice to go through their discography again and familiarize myself with some of the obscurer releases like this three track EP. I always thought this record was a bootleg released by "Nocturnal Art" half a year after their debut but recent investigation indicates the recordings are legitimate, from the same studio session in 1992 as their self titled EP released in 1993.

Before the band incorporated symphonic elements they were raw and primitive with power chord led progression and stark, monstrous echoing vocals. It lacked craft but made up for it with a fierce dark aggression that could warrant merit in extreme music given the time. This recording session captures the band in the midst of their transition between two styles. Only on "Lord Of The Storms" do the vocals go for "over the top" theatrics with beastly pitch dropped screams accompanying the normal scream high up in the mix, would of been much better if not mixed so loud, they do however sound menacing and demonic. The regular scream style shows the tone and texture that would be commonplace on their debut, however their is an element of the shrill scream that can be a little ear piercing in its execution.

Mostly on "The Ancient Queen" do we hear the synth lines tone back the rawness with the dingy, fuzzy distortion guitars softening into the wall of sound. The song develops a lot of atmosphere with guitar riffs that steer away from being purely chord driven and with a bright and gothic organ the song propels itself forward with steady blast beats. "Witches Sabbath" goes for a similar atmosphere but feels thin in places with single note guitar leads dropping dark and sparse melodies in without a rhythm guitar. It too makes some great breaks and shifts utilizing changes in synth tone, something we would see a lot of on "Nightside".

Its an interesting listen for a die hard fan, however its a leftover. The best tracks got onto the self titled EP but hearing Emperor in such a transitional state is a curiosity satisfied. It also made me appreciate just how much the production style of their debut did for the music. Many similar traits are present here musically however the subtleties of craft and presentation production can offer is priceless.

Favorite Song: The Ancient Queen
Rating: 4/10