Thursday, November 10, 2011

Emperor - Reverence EP (1996)

As the mid 90s arrived, Norway's Emperor were riding upon the peak of their career momentum, even while resting on the laurels of a single full length album. Granted, that's one fucking hell of a full length album, and in my opinion one of the best in its genre to date, but by 1996 Ihsahn and Samoth could have recorded a double CD set of live, syncopated armpit farts and it would have sold gangbusters. Rather than such bodily emissions, they instead decided to whet the audience's appetite for new material with their third EP, Reverence, including one preview track for their sophomore Anthems to the Welkin at Dusk and a pair of non-album tracks.

"The Loss and Curse of Reverence" itself is a track I find quite representative of Anthems as a whole: a few riffs of potential hurled into a sodden mire of near mediocrity. I realize this is not the popular opinion of the full-length, and I'll get more into that in a proper review, but of the six minutes present, I found about two of them worth the time. The opening blast explosion does well to get the blood stirring, but outside of the ambient, angelic choir first introduced at around 1:00, and the curvy, thrusting tremolo riff leading up to the first verse, I don't find all that much to remember here. Clearly Emperor were keeping with the symphonic, menacing night sky aesthetics of their debut, but the result is something more refined to a more surgical, technical definition than the crushing nightmares of that impressive work.

As to its companions here, I have no real complaint. "In Longing Spirit" features a good interplay of organs and elevating, ominous riffs as it collides into its more measured, pacing, but often the silly snarling and the keyboard driven breaches might remind some of Cradle of Filth, and this may or may not be welcome. "Opus a Satana" is a symphonic keyboard outro lasting over 4 minutes which makes the perfect backdrop for some lost Castlevania level or perhaps a boss battle in Final Fantasy. It's not meant to be taken frivolously, but the amount of pomp here is comparable to Bal-Sagoth on a fine day. I rather enjoyed it, in fact it's my favorite song on this EP, but I'm a massive geek so take that as you will.

Alas, the biggest problem with Reverence is that the Century Media CD release of Anthems to the Welkin at Dusk renders it Irrelevance. So aside from those eight or so months of empty, masturbatory anticipation you got out of this, it just doesn't matter when the original US edition features all of it and more (you also get a video and live rendition of "The Loss and Curse of Reverence"). I thought to combat this slight by simply importing the CD, so that I wouldn't have the redundant tracks, and then I got robbed out of that other bonus content. And even at it's best, it's little more than a pair of non-album tracks which, while enjoyable, are not among the band's better works. Life's a bitch, so pucker up.

Verdict: Indifference [6/10] (yet put to scorn was I)

No comments: