Review Summary: One of the greatest symphonic black metal releases by one of the greatest symphonic
Emperor, one of the greatest metal bands in the history of metal music released their second LP in 1997 titled 'Anthems to the Welkin at Dusk', and it is one of the best symphonic black metal albums ever created. Though nowadays the symphonic black metal genre is overcrowded with clones and sub-standard bands, there really is only a few names one needs to concern themselves with if they desire to delve into the depths of said genre; Emperor ranks at the very top of that small list.
Formed in 1991 amongst the 'black metal inner circle', Emperor was known as a consistent source of great symphonic black metal output. Over their career they have released 4 LPs and various EPs, with Anthems to the Welkin at Dusk being their second full length release. 'Anthems...' is chaotic, intense, hypnotic, and the perfect example of symphonic black metal done right. One of the main things that really stands out about this recording is the surprisingly clear production, which allows each instrument to shine forth, and the album is all the better for it. Many times great albums are misunderstood due to horrible production, and for a band as technically sound and composition heavy as Emperor great production is a must.
On the musical side of things there is lots of interplay between the guitars and the keyboards, with both instruments taking turns being the lead and rhythm. Keyboard sections are technical, complex and imaginatively arranged, and its fairly easy to say that the keyboards are the shining star in this band. The guitar offers up variety between tremolo picking to straight metal riffing. The drum work is rather amazing as well, going from lightning fast blast beats to breakdown sections with precision. The bass guitar, as is with most black metal bands is inaudible, unfortunately it would have been nice if bass player Alver was given more space to breath. Ihsahn's vocals are nothing short of amazing; his trademark higher register shrieks and screams are fitting for the symphonic atmosphere the band brings. Overall the band performs admirably together, offering up one of the greatest albums in black metal history, one that would be copied and emulated for years to come, but never duplicated.
Musically Anthems to the Welkin at Dusk is worthy of its elite status, and remains one of the watershed albums in the symphonic black metal genre. The keyboard work alone is enough to merit repeated listens, and the dense atmosphere of each track will ensure that those repeated listens are met with your full attention.