EMPEROR - In The Nightside Eclipse – 20th Year Anniversary
July 20, 2014, a year ago
Along with Mayhem and Darkthrone, Emperor is sanctified and hallowed ground in second-wave black metal, the group co-creating a sound and an ethos that continue to reverberate, unabated, in the present day. Trying to quantify - or re-quantify, as it were - In The Nightside Eclipse’s impact is a daunting task, as would be any sort of analysis of Mayhem’s De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas or Darkthrone’s A Blaze In The Northern Sky. When albums are this influential and revered, the LPs do an apt job of speaking for themselves.
Through this, its first full-length, Emperor sent off to the world a mission statement that was grand, eloquent and truly feared, the headlines in 1994 screaming (with many exclamation marks) of the arson, murder and purported satanism that were associated with the Norwegian black metal scene. In 1994, In The Nightside Eclipse wasn’t just another entry on your list of albums to buy (those with long memories will nostalgically confirm that those types of lists actually, at one time, existed) –buying and taking in In The Nightside Eclipse was an Am-I-actually-going-down-this-path? act of courage, one that necessitated the same fortitude metal fans a decade prior mustered up while encountering what seemed like the overwhelming extremity of Venom’s Welcome To Hell and Black Metal. In 1994, on our shores, Norwegian black metal was still only understood in the context of be all/end all extremity. “This is real,” one thought to themselves, slightly
concerned. “This band isn’t messing around.”
And impose its real and stark vision In The Nightside Eclipse did, as the members of Emperor wrote and executed a fortress of sound, one that stands rivaled only by its majestic, and glass-shattered, contemporaries. In 2014, 20 years after In The Nightside Eclipse initially shocked us into semblances of submission, the effort is still monstrous and elegant in its design, like the vampires in the Armani suits that would follow in this record’s wake. Though In The Nightside Eclipse is now undeniably surrounded by, and irreversibly caught in, the fogs of nostalgia and lore that only add to its appeal, the truth remains that this album has always been an absolute stand-out: one knew it, and sensed it, in 1994. And 20 years later, suspicions are confirmed.
To celebrate its 20th anniversary, Candlelight has re-issued In The Nightside Eclipse as a limited 2CD digibook. Disc One contains the album and pre-In The Nightside Eclipse bonus tracks “Ancient Queen”, “Witches Sabbath” and “Lord Of The Storms”. It’s Disc Two, however, that is the real gem, as In The Nightside Eclipse is presented in a different mix, this mix offering a rawer, more aggressive vision of the songs. Though the alternate mix forfeits the grandiosity of its more polished official version and downplays the album’s orchestral elements (which is a real flaw), the primitive, ice-on-ice encased sound of the alternate mix actually benefits In The Nightside Eclipse. What’s left standing is scarred and unrefined, its raw tatters making it far, far more insidious.