Regardless of how you look at it, EMPEROR will always be heralded as one of the, if not the, most influential Black Metal bands the genre has ever produced. Though purists may denounce their later works for the sole reason that the band progressed into a genre all their own, beyond that which they originated from, the rest of us will continue to praise them for that very same reason. Either way, the entity that is EMPEROR will always be remembered for the progression which they bestowed upon this once stagnant genre, for without them, who knows if we would have seen the rise of such Symphonic Black Metal bands as DIMMU BORGIR and CRADLE OF FILTH?
Anyways, let me get back on track. "In The Nightside Eclipse" was EMPEROR's first full-length release (following their debut split with ENSLAVED), and despite the fact that it was recorded over a decade ago, it is still praised as a Black Metal masterpiece, a fact that is not difficult to comprehend. While this album does fulfil the requirements of an early to mid-nineties Black Metal release (raw production, crushing blasts, and tortured vocals), the reason why this album stands a cut above the rest is the way in which EMPEROR so effortlessly takes these elements and surrounds them in an inescapable atmosphere. While I am most certainly not the first person to use the words atmosphere and EMPEROR in the same sentence, that is not the point. The point is that the reason why these two words go hand-in-hand is because of this release. By utilizing symphonic keyboards to their advantage, EMPEROR succeeded in introducing this element into a genre that would otherwise denounce such a tool. By doing so, EMPEROR cemented their names as the first Symphonic Black Metal band, a label which still stands to this day.
While I have yet to touch upon the actual material to be found on "In The Nightside Eclipse", I believe that those seeking a song-by-song dissection of this album have unfortunately missed the point. However, if you have uncovered my intentions with this review, you have most likely already begun exploring EMPEROR and their chronicles of Black Metal progression. For those who fall into the latter category, I commend you, and wish the best as you journey into the realms of one of extreme metal's most memorable innovators. (Online October 16, 2003)