In full disclosure, for the longest time, I thought Emperor's In The Nightside Eclipse was way overrated. Sacrilege, I know, but hear me out.
I've always been a natural-born contrarian. I also skewer sacred cows. Back around the time it came out (because 'back in the day,' it often took 'forever' to get, let alone find, underground records), Emperor's mini-album encapsulated everything amazing and (yes) contrarian about black metal: literally otherworldly, a sound thawed out from some time and place far beyond the comprehension of man, let alone normal 'music', it flew in the face - and dazzlingly, and confrontationally - of the by-then-boring death metal scene. That's an important facet to note, because for a lot of folks who grew up with death metal - during those years that are now considered 'classic,' and rightfully so - especially for those of us in our early/angry teens, where everything's black-and-white, often literally, and the world revolves around a very constricted yet supposedly well-formed view of things - what's now retroactively labelled the 'second wave' of black metal was the call to revolution we were waiting for. Danger was back in metal; it felt like outsider music again. So, hearing Emperor's In The Nightside Eclipse after the self-titled MLP was a bit of a letdown. Too slick, not otherworldly, kinda normal in sum...and of course, then came the legendry and subsequent sacrosanct status of the album. It became a sacred cow, and one I never wanted to really eat in the first place. I shut my ears off.
But terms like "too slick" and "not otherworldly" are all VERY relatively speaking. And context is EVERYTHING, which I guess is what I'm ultimately fumbling with here: In The Nightside Eclipse really is a great work of art (same for that Necrolord cover); I just didn't think its 'classic,' hands-off status was entirely earned, especially after said mini-album. But time heals many wounds, and I can sincerely say I fully enjoy Nightside on its own terms. I could also add how I've been chronically disappointed at how Emperor have written off their actions during that era as mere juvenilia, but I understand why they've taken such a stance as their profile (and maturity) increased. Which is all why we've decided to make Emperor our cover stars for this issue and explore the era/infamy surrounding In The Nightside Eclipse. Some truly eye-opening reading awaits, wherever you stand on the spectrum. 'Who Are The Black Wizards'?
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- VIEW FROM THE BUNKER | Nemtheanga's column