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Emperor - Reverence
Review: With a three-song EP distant wizards Emperor return to the scene which, once cofounded by their work, now wanders vapid into the land of atmospheric cheese-rock in a desperate attempt to continue the flagellation of deceased equine long enough to retire dishonorably.
Counteraction comes in the composition behind what Emperor have wrought, which is both excellent and heartlessly vacant, the latter more pronounced in relative opposition to their older work and in that illustrative of the crisis of this work: it lacks the intensity and direction of older works which stood farther apart from the herd.
The first song, "The Loss and Curse of Reverence," immediately distinguishes itself from older Emperor in the rhythmic changes from the revamped percussion section, which cycles precisely under the music but achieves less integration than a framing of other riffs into a self-renewing vector.
More appealingly simplistic patterns unfold in harmony under hookingly energetic beats, and riffs are more moulded into each song than created as load-bearing elements, but the compositional savant in Emperor holds the entire song together as a melodic, panoramic, and yet precision rendition of a distant reality.
Lyrics, printed helpfully on the booklet, are far more conversational and direct than previous Emperor work, almost self-justifying... this opening track twists and bends through riff structures but keeps its coherence through harmony, lending aid through the discadenced screech of distorted vocals, breaking the more diligent application of rhythm to speech in favor of tone.
"In Longing Spirit" follows, an older song reworked for this album, but remains mostly insubstantial. A rotational rhythm breaks in and out of verse-chorus bouncing and delivers occasional simple epiphanies in major notes of the melody, but most of this song is a five-chord rolling backdrop for the Broadway-style semiotic gestures of the infernal voice.
Following that "Opus A Satana" delivers a reasonably orchestrated but not classical caliber "classical" version of Inno a Satana, seeming indifferent in the face of Emperor's previous diligent creativity toward making atmosphere and power out of noise. Mostly this just seems like an overblown post-retirement keyboard aerobic cut of a great Emperor song, since the accentuating touches are melodramatic and empty gestures in the style of bad musicals and operatic tributes to pop artists.
In the continuing work of Emperor hope lies undistinguished from the rest of a host of additions of questionable taste, although to what effect their permutations reach remains unseen. On one side is the new logo, with a pentagram behind it, and the full-facial photo of the band once obscure with the night, but on the other are the variations and significance in the first track which suggest a band pushing hard for stylistic and compositional techniques to supersede the status quo of black metal. Upon whichever hand your sympathies fall, the hardline remains that behind the growing pains of a survivor's band an intellect works to create power and beauty unleashed in the freedom of a spirit surpassing its world.