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When attention first focused on Norway's almost cartoonishly violent black metal scene in the mid-'90s, Mayhem were dubbed its godfathers, but most of the critical accolades were bestowed upon Emperor, whose musical innovations have had more impact on the genre than any other band. Norwegian black metal was rife with anti-Christian sentiment, but Emperor found novel ways of expressing it in their music; while their music could be furious and violent, the group was also influenced by the darkly majestic melodies of Norwegian folk and classical music, which very effectively supported their lyrical subject matter (even if it was frequently unintelligible). Emperor evoked not only Satanic horror, but also the frigid loneliness of bleak Scandinavian winters; additionally, images of pagan nature worship recalled an ancient, idealized pre-Christian past in which Scandinavian culture was one of the world's most dominant (resulting in the sound being tagged "Viking metal" by some). However, even as Emperor's music garnered world-wide acclaim in the heavy metal community, legal difficulties and lineup shifts ensued when a number of bandmembers became involved in the anti-Christian activism and general violence that characterized Norway's underground metal scene at the time. Emperor's original lineup featured vocalist/guitarist/keyboardist Ihsahn, bassist Mortiis (who has been credited with the band's initial interest in Norwegian folk), and drummer Samoth; this trio recorded a demo, Wrath of the Tyrant, in late 1992, and soon added drummer Faust (born Bard G. Eithun), with Samoth switching to guitar. The quartet recorded a split EP with the band Enslaved titled Hordanes Land, after which Mortiis was forced to leave the group -- and the country -- for unspecified reasons; he moved to Sweden and pursued a solo career, often appearing costumed as an elf. New bassist Tchort signed on for Emperor's full-length debut, In the Nightside Eclipse, which earned critical praise and an international cult following upon its release in 1994. However, around the same time, Samoth was convicted of arson after burning down a historical wooden church; Tchort was sentenced for burglary, knife assault, and desecration; and Faust was locked up for arson, burglary, and murder, stabbing a homosexual acquaintance 14 times outside the Olympic Park in Lillehammer after the man made a pass at him. After Samoth's parole, Emperor regrouped with new bassist Alver and former Enslaved drummer Trym. A three-track EP, Reverence, was recorded in late 1996 as a precursor to 1997's acclaimed Anthems to the Welkin at Dusk, which refined and expanded on the accomplishments of the debut. Alver departed afterwards, leaving Ihsahn and Samoth to split bass chores on record; session bassist Tyr and keyboardist Charmand Grimloch began touring with the group to fill the holes. Emperor's third album, IX Equilibrium, followed in 1999, and the following year the group issued its first concert recording, Emperial Live Ceremony. ~ Steve Huey
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  1.   Song
  2.   The Warriors of Modern Death
  3.   Into the Infinity of Thoughts
  4.   Towards the Pantheon
  5.   I Am the Black Wizards
  6.   The Majesty of the Nightsky
  7.   The Burning Shadows of Silence
  8.   Thus Spake the Nightspirit
  9.   Ærie Descent
  10.   Cosmic Keys to My Creations and Times
  11.   Exördium
  12.   The Tongue of Fire
  13.   Night of the Graveless Souls
  14.   Ensorcelled by Khaos
  15.   Opus a Satana
  16.   The Wanderer
  17.   Wrath of the Tyrant
  18.   Grey
  19.   Empty
  20.   An Elegy of Icaros
  21.   The Acclamation of Bonds
  22.   Ye Entrancemperium
  23.   Curse You All Men!
  24.   [Untitled]
  25.   Into a Satana
  26.   Cosmic to My Creations & Times
  27.   Beyond the Great Vast Forest
  28.   This Spake the Night Spirit
  29.   Infinity Burning
  30.   I Am
  31.   Gypsy
  32.   Cromlech
  33.   A Fine Day to Die
  34.   Funeral Fog
  35.   Thorns on My Grave
  36.   He Who Sought the Fire
  37.   In the Wordless Chamber
  38.   Depraved
  39.   The Eruption
  40.   Of Blindness & Subsequent Seers
  41.   Nonus Aequilibrium
  42.   The Source of Icon E
  43.   Sworn
  44.   Witches Sabbath
  45.   Moon Over Kara-Shehr
  46.   Ancient Queen
  47.   Introduction
  48.   With Strength I Burn
  49.   Inno a Satana
  50.   Massacra
  51.   The Loss and Curse of Reverence
  52.   Lord of the Storms
  53.   Al Svartr (The Oath)
  54.   Decrystallizing Reason
  55.   Aerie Descent
  56.   The Prophet
  57.   In Longing Spirit
  58.   My Empire's Doom
  59.   Forgotten Centuries
  60.   Of Blindness

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