After EMPEROR unfortunately have split, I had taken the time to read through their review on our page. There it struck me that their 1999 album "IX Equilibrium" had not been reviewed yet, in my opinion this album should not be missing, so here we go.
Musically EMPEROR deliver the for them usual heavy, highly technical and by now unfortunately also pretty unmelodic Black Metal. The music is very cold and confusing, so that it is hard to find accessible song structures. The Norwegians themselves said that they would go more "back to the roots", but without throwing out the keyboards and synthies.
So many songs have positive elements, such as orchestral passages (of course via synth) or clean vocals. Just listen to the track "An Elegy Of Icaros", which sounds very varied. All in all "IX Equilibrium" sounds "back to the roots", but the technicality and coldness of the production also kill some positive approaches. If all songs were like "Curse You All Men" (the opener) or the already mentioned "An Elegy…", the album would most probably a real smasher in the tradition of "Anthems To The Welkin' At Dusk". I'm sure that there are some people, who do not agree with me, but I think that here EMPEROR in wide parts are too chaotic, overblown and confusing. Lyrically it all is more about the very personal feelings of vocalist Ihsahn, which, who would have thought, are pretty hard to interpret. Additionally the lyrics again are printed in gold on a background of almost the same colour, so that you need a blind dog to read them to you. If you don't want anyone to read your lyrics, then don't print them. The production of the CD is pretty ok, but for my taste the songs just sound too cold and mechanic.
Fans that like brutal, but at the same time modern Black Metal will find their liking in the album, so I don't want to really trash it. Technically we get quite some wowing moments, but in my ears too much. Ok, enough complaining, fans of the band can get this album without second thought and form their own judgement, just as I have done. The record is good, but not more. No matter what we might think about "IX Equilibrium", EMPEROR forever will be one of the best Black Metal bands. Lucifer bless them!
Check out tips: "Curse You All Men", "An Elegy Of Icaros"… (Online February 5, 2004)