EMPEROR at 170 Russell, Melbourne 3/4/19

There is no question that Emperor are one of the founding fathers of black metal and that they sit amongst a throne at the top of the black metal elite. Releasing some of the most important albums that shaped and designed the genre as we know it today. The first of which is In The Nightside Eclipse [1994] Emperor reformed in the early 2010s and perform that album to celebrate its twentieth anniversary at select gigs and festivals across Europe. I was so honoured to bear witness to one of these shows at WACKEN in 2014 and had the opportunity to meet the band after the show. Seeing Nightside performed live in its entirety was truly one of those special concert going moments. It was my first time seeing Emperor and they exceeded all of my expectations, not that I had anything to compare them to.

2019 was going to be the case for many like me back in 2014 when Emperor announced an Australian tour, and with them, they would be performing their perfect sophomore Anthems To The Welkin At Dusk [1997] album in full.

Obviously, the tour would be a sell out such is the reverence and respect is for Anthems, not only here in Australia but obviously throughout the entire global metal community.

170 Russell was the setting for Emperor’s debut momentous Melbourne debut and to open the night was Ruins from Tasmania and a more perfect band couldn’t have been chosen. The isolated island south of our great country has produced some very stark, cold and brilliant black metal bands. Ruins being one of the standouts, thanks, in part to the Haley brothers who are both heavily rooted in many different and varied facets of metal, but let us not forget the distinct and abrasively guttural voice of Alex who is a commanding force in his gift to summon the spirit or true northern black metal even though we are in the extreme south. And their brothers and sisters in arms this evening were gracious and accepting of the killer set that Ruins delivered. There was no unnecessary band to crowd banter or interaction and nor did there need to be. Both Ruins and their audience knew that they were performing with Black Metal royalty this evening and it was their primary role to lay out the red carpet for the true Northern Kings of Black Metal – EMPEROR.

The clear and obvious reasons we were at 170 Russell was to be mesmerized by a night of perfectly written and executed extreme metal. And that we were. As I mentioned before, Anthems To The Welkin At Dusk is just one of those metal albums that is perfect in every way. When it was released in 1997 it was received with worldwide critical acclaim and admiration. Due to it being wholly both beautiful and brutal. Anthems was without question recognized as an instant classic metal album. Twenty-two years since its release it has neither aged nor lost that sense and feeling of majesty and importance. Purely put, there was no way that either Emperor and Anthems To The Welkin At Dusk could be tainted or ignored.

So… here we all were a sell-out evening at 170 Russell of Melbournian Emperor devotees, fully aware that we were going to bear witness to a very special performance. The air was thick with anticipation when the opener “Alsvartr (The Oath)” serenaded the now eager crowd over the PA and though subdued in its introduction it in no way subdued the audience, instead we were hungry to see Trym, Samoth and Ihsahn deliver one of the finest performances we were ever going to see and hear.

“Ye Entrancemperium” saw Emperor appear on stage and it was now we could hear Ihsahn’s distinct voice and vocals that were just brilliant and faultless as was every note and riff struck by Samoth and in a live setting when both of them were flowing in unison the fans could visually see and sonically hear how these two both crafted and forged Anthems together, who along with Trym delivering both blast and hypnotically pulsating beats, cohesively with the symphonic majesty reproduced via keyboard. Obviously every single member of the crowd knew what track was coming next and we all had no misconceptions about what song was or wasn’t going to be included in Emperor’s set, the reaction at the beginning and end of every track was graciously received, but, quite clearly the favourites were “Thus Spake The Nightspirit”, “The Loss And Curse Of Reverence”, “Curse You All Men” from IX Equilibrium and the evenings closer  “Inno A Satana” from In The Nightside Eclipse.

It is hard to put into words how special seeing Emperor was tonight. Considering the importance and impact Anthems To The Welkin At Dusk had and still has on those of us that were present. Trym, Samoth and Ihsahn put on a performance that, just as Anthems has done, will resonate closely within our collective metal memories for a long time to come.

Written by Neil Vance

Metal V is a passionate, devoted METAL fan who's contributed to metal press & radio for over two decades. He lives & breathes metal 24/7 & surrounds himself with it always!

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