Emperor – Emperial Live Ceremony – Review


Emperial Live Ceremony (Candlelight)
by Scott Hefflon

Seeing as the band doesn’t tour anymore, this live material is suddenly a lot more important… Not that Emperor really needs a push to be considered an important band – they’re among the gnarled, elite handful of black metal bands that were there in the beginning and have since progressed quickly through the stages of fearsome presence and mind-boggling musicianship and now barely make sense to us mere mortals.

These guys are HUGE (unless ya live in the U.S. where metal is the shit on Ozzfest, the rest of the world knows better), so this video/DVD has the bucks (and geek talent) to look good and sound exceptional. While there’s the usual chaotic quick-cutting to confuse you and keep you on your toes, even just straight-on shots of the bald-headed’n’goateed singer, Ihsahn, are pretty scary… He’s an intense dude, and when ya watch him grind like a machinegun, and then fly through the fretboard-spanning riffs, never missing a howl or shriek, ya realize yer in the presence of greatness. The band effortlessly slides into the more proggy material, launching into booming baritone and reaching falsetto, and then back to the shredding evil – it kinda puts the one-trick ponies to shame…

There’s some older material as well, littered with blastbeats and pinballing/cartwheeling riffs that are the aural equivalent of getting caught in one of those funhouse spinning tunnel thingies that knocks everyone off-balance. Lots of swirling lights and flashing purple and blue, and, of course, the blinding white spot on Ihsahn’s dome. The camerawork is classic waist-up on each member, offset by from-the-boots shots and whole-stage shots, never staying too long on any one thing, yet not jumping around quickly, simply to knock you around. The rapid-fire image barrage during the hyperspeed end of “Ye Entrancemperium” is a nice touch, and used as sparingly as it is, is pure brain freeze…

The 10th song, “The Loss and Curse of Reverence” is the classic ’96 video many may’ve seen on the Century Media video, Declaration of Independence. Monk outfits, candles, howling at star-filled skies, armor with huge spikes, lots of black eye make-up, Northern lights and fog and grim reapers and calm lakes and dark woods and all that spooky shit from the good ol’ days. Back when Ihsahn had hair.