Review Summary: This release is one of the masterpieces of the first wave of Norwegian Black Metal as well as the main influence for the creation of Symphonic Black Metal.
The year is 1994. Norwegian people are shocked and live in dread because of maybe, like, twenty young adults, even teens. These few young guys are known as the Inner Circle of Black Metal, created by the now famous Euronymous, Mayhem's guitarist, based on satanic, anti-christian and often misanthropic philosophy.
Wait, what do we have ? A group of stupid teens angry against the society and Church ? In fact, yes and no. It depends who you're basing on to do this statement.
So, getting back to the question, what do we have here in our febrile hands ? What we have here is a 5-star kick-ass masterpiece, so raise your horns for Emperor ! (Ahem.)
This album is very different from the then Norwegian BM scene, although it features the most importants elements of your usual BM release, like tremolo picked guitar riffing, very fast blast beat drumming, over-the-top screeching vocals and bad production (even though this is far from Darkthrone's Transilvanian Hunger or Ulver's Nattens Madrigel), you'll find breaks and slower-paced parts, but also the highlight of this album : the key use of keyboards (duh, nice pun).
Yes, the main interest of this listen are the keyboards. They add quite an unique eerie feel to the complex compositions, courtesy of axemen Ihsahn and Samoth, always providing the music with atmospheric ambiance, like on the really creepy intro of " Towards the Pantheon ", on the slower sections of " Cosmic Keys to my Creations and Times ".
Musicianship is really great, there's no sloppy playing, each and every member of the band is already a virtuoso, huge accomplishment considering the fact they are only 20, maybe even younger ! All music is written by singer / guitarist Ihsahn and guitarist Samoth, all lyrics written by Ihsahn and Samoth except for the songs " Cosmic Keys to my Creations and Times " and " I am the Black Wizards " , whose lyrics were written by former bassist of the band, Mortiis.
Drummer Faust delivers solid blast beat drumming along the album, he is no Frost (Satyricon, 1349), but this dude knows how to drum, he gets the job done, and that's an euphemism ! He is only slowing down the tempo on a few occasions, like on the masterful break of " The Majesty of the Nightsky ", which has to be one of the most beautiful things ever written in the history of music. Period.
Now onto the guitar playing. Ihsahn and Samoth offer really extreme tremolo picked riffs, " I am the Black Wizards " arguably being the anthem of Norwegian Black Metal with its memorable main riff, who doesn't have this riff somewhere in his head ? The sound of guitars is raw, but not too much to take, the distortion is heavy but doesn't make riffs indecipherable, only switching on clean sound for one moment on the album, and what for a moment !
The bass is inaudible, so i don't know about Tchort's skills, but i guess this is as usual, the bass follows the guitar lines. However this is not a problem, as it doesn't alterate the quality of this release.
Singer Ihsahn is very talented at what he does. His screeching vocals are among the highest i've ever heard, bearing some extreme power and hatred (listen to the scream he does at the beginning of Toward the Pantheon, it's long, awesome, and badass), recitating amazing poetry to the night, ancient Scandinavian tales and frostbitten landscapes of Norway, it's not your average stupid blasphemy (Marduk, anybody ?), even though one track does speaks about Satan.
To sum up a little, this album is really near perfection, everything is wonderful on it, alterning extreme raw sections with incredible atomospheric breaks.
From the very beginning of the dark intro to the final three whispered words, you'll be fascinated, no, wait, litterally hypnotized by the glacial beauty of In the Nightside Eclipse. This is an ode to the fascination mankind has with night and all the dark things.
Pros : Extreme blast beat drumming, really complex and intricate guitar riffing, powerful high screamed vocals, beautiful and poetic lyrics, melodic breaks, production adding to the grim atmosphere, " Inno a Satana "
Cons : Hmm... Bass is inaudible ? (finding a con was really hard)
Final rating : 5 / 5 , one of the most important albums of Black Metal, and of 90s Heavy Metal by extent.