Whereas In The Nightside Eclipse poured sorrow from every bleeding measure, the wound seems to have been partially stanched for Emperor's latest siege. Of course, the scab is peeled back for an unhealthy application of salt from time to time, but how else to maintain the tortured throes that rip forth from the throat of the darkly regal Ihsahn? Prepping for the apparently impending apocalypse (see sickly green, chaotic cover art), the band has fashioned their bitter brew into something with a little more kick, as militant synth lines layered over blast beats go down like fire. Retaining their bleak outlook on society, Ihsahn and crew turbo charge the Emperor sound with anthemic keyboard melodies that raise a stirring battle cry in praise of darkness. This album is truly a call for war.
Other aspects of the band's musical aesthetic have remained mercifully unchanged. The songs routinely top the timer at around 6-8 minutes apiece, and despite the more muscular keyboard approach, underneath lay the festering beats and frenzied tremolo picking that are most familiar from their previous work. The songs were recorded in the Memorial Hall of Grieg, giving the proceedings space to work their black magic. Production of this magnitude is a testament to the commercial acceptance of black metal, however limited the mainstream extent of such appeal may be. Most of the black metal bands from the 80's were justifiably chastised for their sloppy playing and horrendously noisy production values. Anthems to the Welkin at Dusk is notification that the days of low quality studio work are a thing of the past. No longer will it be acceptable to complain that since you're not on a major label and selling out stadiums you can't afford a decent producer. Emperor have produced, engineered and mastered this magnum opus all by themselves, giving the punk version of the DIY ethic a swift kick in the nuts.
For those who missed out on the Reverence EP which preceded this album, not to fret: it's included in it's entirety. "The Loss and Curse of Reverence" is incorporated into the main track listing while the two b-sides and CD-ROM video track are tacked on at the end. Of special interest is "Opus A Satana", an orchestral version of the debut's "Inno A Satana" performed entirely on keys. It's quite the amazing number, and paints Ihsahn as a musical force to cower from in awe. With this album, Emperor should prove to be the Metallica of black metal, enhancing it's artistic reputation while providing a huge upward influence on all those aspiring to the top.