|Subtlety has never been a trait that Norwegian gods Emperor have ever set out to achieve, in fact they have built a career on pushing their music beyond metal's boundaries as well as many fans' acceptance levels. Known early on for their notorious lifestyles that went along with their imaginative and devastating style of metal, this outfit have vaulted themselves to the status of icons and originators. IX Equilibrium, the band's third full-length album, is a doorway into a world created by, and attained only with, the album itself. A vast corridor filled with possibly the most extreme and fulfilling metal sounds, passages and arrangements that have ever been offered, IX Equilibrium again completely sets Emperor and their music apart from any other band or sound. Emperor are true metal gods. Beginning life as a trio in the spring of '92, Emperor began with Samoth (drums), Ihsahn (guitar/ vocals) and Mortiis (bass). The band quickly recorded and circulated the now legendary Wrath of the Tyrant demo, which brought them to the attention of the then still developing Candlelight record label. A deal was inked, Samoth moved to guitar and Bard Faust was recruited for the then vacant drum stool. By the end of the year the band had recorded their half of the Emperor / Enslaved split CD which was to eventually surface early in the following year. Mortiis then departed and was soon replaced by Tchort. The press response to Emperor's material was excellent and by the summer of '93 they were working on their debut full length, In The Nightside Eclipse. At the time of the album's release in 1994 Emperor had become without doubt the most important band in the genre, gathering world wide critical acclaim and a rabid fan base to match.
In autumn of '93 during a series of headline-grabbing events (which are now quite sufficiently documented) Emperor would suffer the temporary loss of Samoth and the permanent loss of Faust, due to prison sentences. Before Samoth did his time however, the band managed to put together a new line-up with bassist Alver, and a session-drummer in the guise of Trym (ex-Enslaved). At the end of '96, fully prepared and rehearsed, Emperor returned to the studio. First firing off the Reverence EP to announce their return, and then following up in early '97 with what at the time was undoubtedly the single most ambitious and important black metal release to date, Anthems To The Welkin At Dusk. The press agreed, not only did Anthems... appear in just about every album-of-the-year poll in all parts of the globe, but they actually won album-of-the-year honors in both England's Terrorizer Magazine and the US's Metal Maniacs. Things have taken another leap forward since the release of the groundbreaking Anthems...,
1998 saw not only triumphant appearances at both the Dynamo Open Air and the Milwaukee Metal Fest, but also the departure of bass player Alver. As a result of this, all bass duties on their latest masterpiece, IX Equilibrium, have been handled by Ihsahn. The new album itself is their single most breathtaking work and accomplishment to date, surpassing even the mighty Anthems... in scope and sheer diversity. Emperor have now moved so far ahead of the black metal field that it is unfair to consider them as mere black metal anymore; IX Equilibrium is a plateau and realm that few can comprehend, and only Emperor can attain. Beginning their new journey with the forceful, "Curse You All Men!", and running through such soundscapes and nightmares as "The Source Of Icon E", "Nonus Aequilibrium", and "Of Blindness & Subsequent Seers", the band have sculpted a masterpiece of unmatched vision and power. This album is evil, romantic, epic and inspiring. Utilizing elements of their traditional metal roots, operatic vocals and of course their trademark symphonic riffing, the band have created an album so mature that it may well take the rest of the competition years to catch up...which more than likely will never happen.