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Emperor - Anthems to the Welkin at Dusk
Review: In order to produce a black metal album for the current scene venerable Emperor have succumbed to a desire to stray from what made them great, to what people remember about what made them great. Every aspect of this album seems an aesthetic venture aimed to duplicate the success of a previous album with a more accessible album tastier in its micro-elements (overall more consistent speed, more narrative and vocal melodies, evil growling offset against clean singing) but none come close to the opposite end of the spectrum, which is what made Emperor great: unity.
Chaotic blasting riffs follow each other in a sequence best explained by rhythmic similarities and then cycle through predictable constructions in support of the overall composition. The drifting melodies and symphonic compositions of harmony that marked In the Nightside Eclipse as an epic of complex metal are replaced by rippingly fast, two or three note riffs in the style of later Enslaved thrown in a mixture of melting keyboards and sliding tempo changes. While the voice of Ihsahn remains immensely strong when distorted, his clean voice is beautiful, but the notes he sings are usually designed to appeal more to the mainstream mind than to fit into an artistic creation.
Despite having every element of a good metal recording, this one doesn't have it. The songs are not structured in the ways that made them express a deepening range of emotions, and consequently all of the textural efforts to create this effect emerge as aesthetic melodrama. Even the song sequence is structured to ape the dramatic landscapes of emotion put together in the previous effort. Where aesthetics count, this is an improvement, but at the heart of the music, a fundamental letdown.