I will take you home... Feo's Stuff BLACK METAL
Comics, Graphic Novels, and Anime
Horror, Thriller, Suspense, and Mystery Movies
Literature and Writers
Shadow Music


Write Us:

Feo Amante
Be sure to write:
Feo Reader
in the subject line else you may be bounced like JunkeMail


shadow Music Ryan Harding Review by
Ryan Harding
Emperor: Prometheus
EMPEROR: PROMETHEUS: The Discipline of Fire and Demise - 2001
Candlelight Records

For better or for worse, ANTHEMS TO THE WELKIN AT DUSK gave Black Metal something it rarely had with critics: credibility. Along with AT THE GATES' SLAUGHTER OF THE SOUL, ANTHEMS is another mainstay of several Best Albums of the '90's lists, and unlike SLAUGHTER OF THE SOUL, I can understand why. I don't agree, but I understand. Anticipation was high for the follow-up IX EQUILIBRIUM, which didn't really live up (I overrated it myself. [I knew it! WHORE! -feo]). So when I heard there was another EMPEROR on the way I was interested, but not altogether hopeful. And when announcements that EMPEROR would never tour again soon became "this is the last Emperor album," I was indifferent. Not anymore. After hearing PROMETHEUS, I have a definite opinion.


PROMETHEUS represents the worst of all intentions - the inevitable conclusion of bands trying to be more layered than thou, instead of just writing good songs. What should be a listening experience is just a window to self-indulgence, in particular vocalist / guitarist / bassist / keyboardist Ihsahn's. Contrary to what he insists in recent interviews, the album does not sound like a band effort at all. If Samoth was so involved, why is he only credited with "additional guitars"? Even "rhythm guitar" would sound substantially evolved. One suspects he was either trying to distance himself, or his input was non-existent. It seems quite likely that he was prepared to continue with EMPEROR, if not in touring capacity, until he heard what Ihshan came up with, and then said, "You know what? I'm gonna be awfully busy with Zyklon . . ."

And drummer extraordinaire Trym? Given no essential rhyme or reason in Ihsahn's arrangements, his battery operates under his own logic. It sounds like he was trying to invent life in the void he was given, which serves only to contrast. Many riffs where he chooses to go full throttle don't even seem to warrant such a flight (and this obersvation is coming from someone who loves the blast, keep in mind). He continues with a very digital - and therefore extremely artifical - sound to his kit. Remember ENSLAVED's FROST, when he actually sounded natural?

All that is by the wayside, as PROMETHEUS is Ihshan's show completely. A very out-of-place intro notwithstanding, opening track "The Eruption" is notable for having the album's only good riff. It almost rooked me into thinking the rest of the album may have some merit. The unheralded appearance of clean vocals soon had me revising my impressions. There at least seemed to be some logic behind their use previously, but now we're hearing them in heavy, more aggressive moments, seemingly at random.

"The Eruption" is still the closest we come to an actual song. Nothing after threatens us with such a radical concept. Each track is a patchwork of several notes that I'm guessing are meant to be riffs, but sound more like fills or leads. Actually it's kind of hard to concentrate on the guitars due to the bastard accompaniement of everpresent synth. The keyboard antics make old material by Gehenna and Obtained Enslavement seem positively restrained, while simultaneously failing to acheive the sublime absurdity of Tartaros' THE RED JEWEL. This must be the punishment for everyone who cried about IX EQUILIBRIUM being so guitar oriented. Careful what you wish for. If that wasn't enough, we have to stomach horns, too. The structure overkill arguarly suffers from the only improvement here: the production. Trym's synthetic sound notwithstanding, they finally got it right. Imagine the last couple albums with such coherence.

Ultimately, am I expected to show gratitude for such excess? To say,
"At least EMPEROR didn't repeat themselves? At least Emperor tried something different?" How noteworthy does that sound when I can then say,
"At least REBAELLIUN made a good album that I enjoy listening to"?
But you're saying,
"This album is complex, and requires several listens to appreciate."

The problem is, I don't care. There's nothing I like enough about this album that makes me think committing it to memory would result in an awakening of interest. It bores me. The predictable debate about whether this is death metal or black metal or whatever is pointless. Most importantly, is it good? Let's quantify it in CELTIC FROST terminology: This is not EMPEROR's Return; this is Dethroned EMPEROR.


Perplex Skull

This review copyright 2001 E.C.McMullen Jr.

Return to Shadow Music

Feo Amante's Horror Home Page and feoamante.com are owned and copyright 1997 - 2006 by E.C.McMullen Jr.
All images and text belong to E.C.McMullen Jr. unless otherwise noted.
All fiction stories belong to their individual authors.
I Will Take you Home