Emperor - IX Equilibrium
Century Black
Black/Progressive Metal
9 songs (44:01)
Release year: 1999
Reviewed by Aaron
Archive review

I have said it many, many, times by now. I have relayed this opinion ever since the blessing that is Emperor touched my unworthy ears with a frozen sonic finger. I feel that it needs saying again, and those who have listened to this will agree, and they are correct.

There never has been, never was, and never will be a better opening track to any album, ever, nor will there ever be a better concert opener from any band, ever, then Curse You All Men!

There, I said it.

Now, on to the album. Emperor came off Anthems to the Welkin at Dusk smelling like a rose, or the Norwegian black metal equivalent of a rose, whatever that may be. Everyone so loved their music, caught them in concert, wore their t-shirts, cut themselves and swore themselves to serve Emperor forever, even in death, etc... but this album was not received nearly as well as Anthems was.


It’s really obvious. There’s a reason why Darkthrone is so popular amongst the black metal hordes: because they never, ever, ever, ever, change. They stay the same, play the same music, wear the same corpsepaint, probably dress in the same clothes... not to say this is a bad thing, as I enjoy Darkthrone’s recent output myself, but I get tired of the same thing forevermore. If it weren’t for their strong songwriting, I never would have purchased Hate Them or Goatlord, for that matter. Forever staying the same can only work for so much time.

Emperor wanted to keep changing, and so they did, with this album. I hate to use the term ‘controlled chaos’ too often, but I have to use it here, as this album is a forty-four minute dose of controlled chaos, on first listen.

However, upon subsequent listens, you may strip away the highly complex outward shell, and hear what there is to hear... simply enough, Emperor has, by becoming more complex, reverted to a paradoxically simple style that remains technical, brilliant, and innovative. How, you ask?

Listen to the main guitar riff on Curse You All Men! Does it not invoke silence from those unconverted? Of course it does! But that’s not the point. Despite all this, Emperor has, while progressing, reverted somewhat to their Norwegian black metal roots, but only slightly, and just enough so that it is barely detectable unless you have a good ear. Listen closely, and you’ll hear that this album is, in fact, quite a bit more black metal than Anthems, in both spirit and concept, though it does not surpass the aforementioned in terms of songwriting strength.

On to the songs. Curse You All Men! is, of course, a brilliant track with an excellent vocal delivery that remains audible while being undeniably brutal, a wall of noise created by the thrashing guitars of Samoth and Ihsahn, the wailing keyboards that highlight the multiple climaxes the track goes through, and the inhuman percussion work of Trym. It’s hard to imagine a faster drummer, unless, of course, you listen to Mayhem.

Oddly enough, the other songs do NOT follow a similar formula to the opener, and though they remain fucking great, an album full of Curse You All Men! style tracks is a recurring wet dream of mine, and I’m sure of many others. Other highlights include Nonus Aequilibrium, Warriors of Modern Death, and An Elegy of Icaros.

The only major problem that highlights itself throughout the album is, oddly enough, Trym. While his accuracy, stamina, and technique are to be lauded beyond all possible methods of lauding, at points he doesn’t seem to pay much attention to what the rest of the band is playing, let alone try to stay in time, or keep it, or anything... but he still rocks. Luckily, this isn’t a constant occurrence.

Let it be known that I score this album an eighty-nine out of a possible one hundred. Buy it after In The Nightside Eclipse and Anthems to the Welkin at Dusk.

Killing Songs :
Curse You All Men!, Nonus Aequilibrium, Warriors of Modern Death, An Elegy of Icaros
Aaron quoted 89 / 100
Jeff quoted 90 / 100
Daniel quoted 96 / 100
Other albums by Emperor that we have reviewed:
Emperor - Emperor/Wrath Of The Tyrant reviewed by Goat and quoted no quote
Emperor - Live Inferno reviewed by Goat and quoted no quote
Emperor - Anthems to the Welkin at Dusk reviewed by Daniel and quoted CLASSIC
Emperor - In The Nightside Eclipse reviewed by Valefor and quoted CLASSIC
Emperor - Prometheus - The Discipline Of Fire & Demise reviewed by Danny and quoted 88 / 100
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