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Emperor - "In the Nightside Eclipse" (Candlelight, CD, 1994)
After the release of the now legendary demos "Emperor" and "Wrath of the Tyrant" here is the debut Emperor album. This album was a complete turn around in Blackmetal, with it started the so-called 2nd wave of Blackmetal. But let's talk about the album, it is much better than you were expecting by listening to the demos, about that I'm sure. This album associates the typical raw sound of that time with the melody that appeared later (probably influenced by them). The use of the keyboards, not very common then, makes some kind of spooky atmospheres throughout the album, but this keyboards are used in a very good way, I mean, they do not muffle the guitars, as we can see on most of the bands nowadays, and what a shame it would be if that happened, because the guitars have an excellent role, playing very complex, but nonetheless melodic riffs. About the vocalization, Ihsahn is constantly screaming, but sometimes you can hear a clean voice, that really fits the music. But what extols the most in this album is the transcending feeling of the executers, and that is what brings such quality to this release. 
About the lyrical part, we can see that there are lots of good ideas, but the translation to English didn't work as well as they intended, because one can see very grammar errors (nothing that doesn't allow you understand the lyrics, though) .
This astonishing debut album brought Emperor to the front of the Blackmetal scene, a place that they never lost until now!

1 - Into The Infinity Of Thoughts
2 - The Burning Shadows Of Silence
3 - Cosmic Keys To My Creations & Times
4 - Beyond The Great Vast Forest
5 - Towards The Pantheon
6 - The Majesty Of The Nightsky
7 - I Am The Black Wizards
8 - Inno A Satana
9 - A Fine Day To Die (Bathory cover/Bonus Track)
10 - Gypsy (King Diamond cover/Bonus Track)

Note: This two bonus tracks only appeared on the re-release of this album, in 1998



Emperor - "Anthems to the Welkin at Dusk" (Candlelight, CD, 1997)
Three years after the release of the mythical "In the Nighside Eclipse", considered by many the best Blackmetal album ever, Emperor are back again, this time with a new formation, but the true mentors behind the band - Ihsahn and Samoth - remain. Many expectations were in the air, could Emperor deal with the pressure of creating a successor for "In the Nighside Eclipse"? By listening to this record you will understand that this is more than a successor, for me this one even overcomes "In the Nighside Eclipse". The band shows much more experience now and that experience combined with the creativity in the composition of the songs, makes this a superb album.
It all starts with an epic introduction named "Al Svartr (The Oath)", which prepares you for entering in your inner empire with "Ye Entrancemperium" (the opening guitar riff of this song was originally written by Euronymous). I think it's not worth to name here some songs, because they are all just great! Emperor with this record managed, even better, to join both raw and epic atmospheres, being the sound much more perceptible now. About the instrumentalization, it's in the vein of the previous one, but with rhythms and riffs even more complex (a note for the new drummer - Trym - who is very good, being among the best in the scene). Ihsahn besides playing guitar, bass and synth in this record, wrote all the lyrics, which are, in one word, brilliant! Emperor, with this album, showed that they are, without doubt, the best second wave Blackmetal band.

1 - Al Svartr (The Oath)
2 - Ye Entracemperium
3 - Thus Spake the Nightspirit
4 - Ensorcelled by Chaos
5 - The Loss and Curse of Reverence
6 - The Acclamation of Bonds
7 - With Strength I Burn
8 - The Wanderer
9 - In Longing Spirit (Bonus Track)
10 - Opus a Satana (Bonus Track)
11 - The Loss and Curse of Reverence (live) (Bonus Track)

Note: This three bonus tracks only appeared in the re-release of this album, in 1998



Emperor - "IX Equilibrium" (Candlelight, CD, 1999)
The band considered by most as the great leaders of the Blackmetal movement (an opinion with which I completely agree) have returned with their third album, IX Equilibrium.
Much was expected, after the fabulous releases "In the Nightside Eclipse" and "Anthems to the Welkin at Dusk". The waiting was worth the time.
This is a geniously conceived album, it is a fact. Emperor simply do not let themselves slow down, and the result is their most brutal album up-to-date.
A great hail goes to the production. It is finally possible to decently hear Ihsahn's vocals, and what a fuck if it wouldn't be - from raw to clean, the chanting is completely fabulous, Ihsahn manages once again to create both aggressive and epic vocals in a genius way. 
Musically, it is the stuff Emperor have habituated us to - insane drums, strange arrangements, technical guitar works, majestic keyboards...this time the band incorporated some death metal influences, mostly through the guitars, giving the album a more direct sound. However, there are still a lot of epic moments in every track, giving the album a great variety (this is both a good and bad thing, though, because sometimes you get the feeling that this album is simply too varied). A final hail goes to the lyrics, extremely well-written, more focused on aspects of life than on the previous releases.

1 - Curse You All Men!
2 - Decrystallizing Reason
3 - An Elegy Of Icaros
4 - The Source Of Icon E
5 - Sworn
6 - Nonus Aequilibrium
7 - The Warriors Of Modern Death
8 - Of Blindness & Subsequent Seers
9 - Reason Nonus (Bonus Track)



Enthroned - "The Apocalypse Manifesto" (Blackend, CD,1999)
Fast black metal based on an anti-christian philosophy, this is how the belgian Enthroned can be described. This was their fourth album, leaving behind "Prophecies of Pagan Fire", "Towards the Skullthrone of Satan" and "Regie Sathanas: A Tribute to Cernunnos". Well, there's not much of originality within this release, but after all, the musical genre in wich they're inserted doesn't enable much more. Razor sharp riffing, a non-existent bass, constant-shrieking vocals, fast rhythms, some occasional slow melodic parts completed with anti-christian lyrics/track titles ("The Scourge of God", for instance) is all you can expect from this record. Another important aspect to mention when we're dealing with - not only but also - black metal is the feeling/atmosphere that should "flow out" from the music, and sincerely, I think these guys could do better than this (listen to Nargaroth's "Herbstleyd" or "Black Metal Ist Krieg" for instance and you'll understand what I'm talking about). As for the production, the drums could be better; apart from that, there's nothing more to say. My favorite tracks here are "Völkermord der Antigott" along with "Postmortem Penetrations" (the last one has some "solos" that I find interesting). As a final conclusion, this album isn't much compared with others released in the same year, so I prefer listening to other more interesting pieces of music.

1 - Whisperings Of Terror (intro)
2 - The Apocalypse Manifesto
3 - Death Faceless Chaos
4 - Retribution Of The Holy Trinity
5 - Genocide (Concerto No 35 for razors)
6 - Volkermord Der Antigott
7 - Alastor Rex Perperuus Doloris
8 - Matan & Dan



Exhumed - "Gore Metal" (Relapse Records, CD, 1998)
Along with the Spanish gore grinders Haemorrhage, this quartet from California that answers by the name of Exhumed is my only contact with the gore thematic. With song titles such as "Open The Abcess", "Limb from Limb" and "Casketcrusher", we couldn't expect nothing more than pathological lyrics and sickness from this. The cover artwork isn't the best I've ever seen, but it's quite explicit...entrails all over a kitchen, a plastic head in a microwave (!), a chainsaw covered by intestines and a plastic hand in a pan...that's gore enough for me, thank you very much. About the music, Exhumed combine segments of putrescent bone-crushing Gore Grind with 85% of slicing Death Metal...it's kind of suitable to all those who miss the early days of Carcass (especially the lyrics...although if compared with some of The Berzerker's lyrics, they're nothing but bedtime stories). The only negative aspect here is bad production of the drums, looks like they were recorded in a Portuguese studio...but that is easily surpassed. The final track of this album is a cover version from Sodom, the well-known "Sodomy and Lust" (I'm completely sick of Sodom cover versions). The corpses will spew their guts to the sound of Exhumed, real fucking gore!

1 - Necromaniac
2 - Open the Abcess
3 - Postmortem Procedures
4 - Limb from Limb
5 - Enucleation
6 - CasketCrusher
7 - Deathmask
8 - In my Human SlaughterHouse
9 - Sepulchral Slaughter
10 - Vagitarian II
11 - Blazing Corpse
12 - Deadest of the Dead
13 - Sodomy and Lust



Exul - "The Unveil of the Darkest Arts" (Demo-tape, Profanum Records, 2003)
This is the first release from this band rising from Porto. This demo presents a quite varied and original Blackmetal. Namely some acoustic parts that are very well composed and really give another touch to the songs and some samples of painful screams and something like that. In my point of view the different characteristics this band shows only make their sound better and more interesting, because I'm a litle bit tired of listening to hundreds of bands copying each other and all sounding the same.
All the different instruments are played coherently without any major flaws, except for the drums which I think the drum pedal is misused sometimes, but it's not this detail that ruins their songs.
I have also to point the presence of the lyrics in this demo, it is not very common, but for me is very important. The lyrics are very "dark" and sometimes feature some painful topics, but, the most important, are well written.
As for flaws, the main I can point is the production, for the sound is very distant, seeming that they recorded far away from the microphones. I'm not saying I don't like bad productions, what I mean is this band as a lot to gain if in their next work they manage to find the proper sound to record.
As for conclusion, this is a great debut release from this band and a very good proof that Portugal is begginning to have a very strong Blackmetal movement.

1 - The Unveil of the Darkest Arts
2 - In the Lewd Prisons of the Eternal Sorrow
3 - Astenic Efferfescent Hate
4 - Liber IV
5 - Scarlet Whore