Review Summary: Simply breathtaking
Emperor are one of the names that is synonymous with the words black metal. They are one of the best known bands in the genre due to the release of their classic debut album In The Nightside Eclipse. Their sound resolves around the core principles of black metal combined with some symphonic noodling in the background and even the occasional section of chanted operatic vocals buried deep in the mix in the background as the vocalist shrieks his lungs out. Whilst Anthems To The Welkin At Dusk, the band's second attempt, is not quite as well known as their debut it is almost as good and is extremely similar to that release, and proved that the band was not just a one-trick pony.
Their sophomore release embodies everything that the band was praised for on their first album but does not really change the sound a whole lot. As such this albums only real flaw is that it is essentially just a carbon copy of that particular classic. This is not a particularly bad thing however as the band really has a lot of talent and dish up some fantastic black metal music here, with the tremolo picked riffs being better produced than on the first release. The shrieks are not quite as dominating as they were on their first album and the drums feel a little crisper, whilst still taking the same stance as they did on In The Nightside Eclipse-to blast forward as fast as the band can. However one thing that this album does considerably better than the first album is the way it introduces itself. Alsvartr is the first song here and is a mellow number. It uses keyboards to great effect whilst the guitars jump between clean instrumental work and heavy but slow sections. This was a fantastic way to start this release off before diving headfirst into the pool of insanity and riffs that the band is known for, with some cool clean singing sprinkled in between. The Loss and Curse of Reverence is probably the best thing here. It is incredibly fast paced with a whole new level of aggression to it previously heard, so if you want to get into this band then perhaps The Loss and Curse of Reverence is the place to start with. Anthems To The Welkin At Dusk isn't quite as strong overall as their debut however, with it dragging on at times. Some sections of songs feel like they are not paced quite as strongly as their debut was and therefore it falls quite short. The Acclaimation of Bond is probably the biggest offender here but is still fun, and it is nice to hear the symphonic work. This is an area where the band has enjoyed considerably better, as the band has learnt how to integrate symphonic sections into their songs really well.
This is a great follow-up to their iconic debut and shows exactly why Emperor is considered to be one of the best bands within their genre. It is a masterful attempt at symphonic black metal and nails the style better than bands such as Cradle of Filth and them Dimmu Borgir bitches ever could.