Emperor - Live Inferno
Black Metal
Disc 1: 15 songs (1:19:00) Disc 2: 12 songs (1:10:00) Disc 3: 12 songs (1:10:00)
Release year: 2009
Emperor, Candlelight
Reviewed by Goat

Trying to express the sheer magical impact that a band can have on the listener is a personal, private thing at the best of times, but few would argue against Emperor being a universal experience, a band that all fans of Extreme Metal can relate to. I can still remember the moment that I first heard the opening sample to Into The Infinity Of Thoughts, purchasing In The Nightside Eclipse blind after having the then-mysterious Norwegian band recommended to me and being completely stunned by the dark majesty of what I heard. That same sample, the clashing of swords and shouts of battle, is what opens the two shows of Live Inferno, both the Wacken ‘06 and Inferno ‘06 festival shows, and it’s like greeting an old lover again after a long absence. I often regret that my reviewer duties prevent me from simply relaxing with as many of my favourites as I’d like, and it’s sadly been a while since I’ve given the Emperors their tribute; my utter love for the first two albums from the Norwegian kings makes up for the disappointing latter two, and I still hope that there’s just something I’m missing that prevents me from truly appreciating IX Equilibrium and Prometheus.

The tracklisting for Live Inferno is a pretty darn good balance, leaning more towards the classic songs as you’d expect, but with clear nods towards the later years of the band. In fact, the tracklisting for the two shows here is more or less the same, yet so excellent is the performance that one can’t help but wholeheartedly recommend the purchase of this for all fans of Emperor. It’s worth taking a moment to appreciate the packaging of this release; being a fan I unquestioningly purchased the limited edition with both the CDs and DVD, and I’m glad I did; the digibook packaging and built-in booklet are of high quality, certainly a collector’s item, and the CDs themselves are a marvel.

It’s the DVD which I want to concentrate upon, however, and what an excellent one it is. The ominous menu, setting you up wonderfully for the Wacken concert itself, the incredible sound quality, the clear and attractive picture, all are little short of amazing, showing the love which Candlelight have put into this. The concert itself is pretty spectacular; Ihsahn, Samoth and Trym (looking more like Trent Reznor each time I see him!) joined by Secthdamon on bass and backing vocals and Einar on keyboards, truly throwing himself into the opportunity, headbanging wildly and clearly overjoyed to be there. Emperor themselves are on fire, commanding the stage professionally with all the majestic passion that you’d expect; Ihsahn the impervious, still figure at the front, virtuoso on his guitar and leader of the epic sound, Samoth and Trym intense and wholehearted in their embrace of their past. The sound is live, but clear and enjoyable; better than the production on In The Nightside Eclipse without a doubt, yet not reducing the atmospheric impact of the songs from that era at all.

Camerawork and editing is modern, but not so much as to be annoying; the odd cut or sped-up part is well-chosen and serves to enhance the experience overall. There aren’t too many shots of the crowd, but those that there are show you pretty much as you would be yourself, were you lucky enough to attend; completely at one with the music, headbanging passionately or simply throwing the horns in awe. Ihsahn tells the crowd to sing along to the epic choruses of the likes of Thus Spake The Nightspirit and although it’s a little hard to hear the crowd, you know that each and every soul there is singing along passionately. Especially kickass for me, sat at home enthralled, were the opening blast of Infinity Burning (medley) and Cosmic Keys To My Creations And Times, the crowdpleasing Curse You All Men! (surprising me, as I tended to view that song rather harshly before now) and even In The Wordless Chamber fits in perfectly with the earlier songs. If, like me, you wondered at the band’s latter-day vision before, you won’t after this.

It’s worth mentioning that Ihsahn is in spectacular voice; there have been times when I’ve found him little short of annoying in later years, but his performance here is incredible. He seems humble yet proud, subdued yet also kingly; his professionalism is stunning, and he is clearly there to give fans what they want from the name, the trademark for Norwegian Black Metal that is Emperor. Although, cynically, the reunion may have ultimately just been all about this moment, selling copies of a live DVD to fans like myself, even if I can believe something so capitalist and unworthy of my Black Metal heroes, it’s worth it. So transcendental is I Am The Black Wizards alone that I somehow managed to punch myself in the face with sheer excitement whilst watching, and as for concert finale Inno A Satana, well; it’s the culmination of everything up until then, finishing the experience perfectly.

The bonus features are interesting, with varied backstage clips as well as shots from the Inferno ’06 show, of markedly less quality than the main concert and with pretty much the same tracklisting, but it is slightly more personal. Clips of everything from signing sessions and interviews are included, the band heavily-accented but gracious and humble. You get an extended shot of Trym blasting, crazed English fans, and even a couple of songs filmed at shows from their US appearances – of course, it’s all small fry compared to the main concert film, and that’s the one that you’ll keep coming back to. A great package, and a must-have for Emperor fans, especially since the band have declared this the last ever thing from them under that name, the ‘nails in the coffin’ as Samoth put it. Their legacy will continue to reign in the hearts of fans all over the world; the quintessential Black Metal band, the gods of the genre.

Killing Songs :
Cosmic Keys To My Creation & Times, Thus Spake The Nightspirit, Curse You All Men!, The Loss And Curse Of Reverence, In The Wordless Chamber, I Am The Black Wizards, Inno A Satana
Goat quoted no quote
Other albums by Emperor that we have reviewed:
Emperor - Emperor/Wrath Of The Tyrant reviewed by Goat and quoted no quote
Emperor - IX Equilibrium reviewed by Aaron and quoted 89 / 100
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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