Emperor: Anthems to the Welkin at Dusk (1997)

Anthems to the Welkin at Dusk is a study in contrasts. The album seamlessly shifts from moments of unrelenting aggression to introspective passages marked by chilling atmospheres. It is both a defiant battle cry and a descent into the depths of a shadowy, individualistic spirituality. This duality propelled the band to a new level of musical complexity and cemented their legendary status.

Track Listing

  1. Alsvartr (The Oath)
  2. Ye Entrancemperium
  3. Thus Spake the Nightspirit
  4. Ensorcelled by Khaos
  5. The Loss and Curse of Reverence
  6. The Acclamation of Bonds
  7. With Strength I Burn
  8. The Wanderer

Length: 43:55


Symphonic black metal

Release Date

May 19th, 1997

Record Label

  • Candlelight Records
  • Century Black (A subsidiary of Century Media Records)

The Lineup for the Album

  • Ihsahn – Vocals, guitars, synthesizer, arrangements, production, mastering
  • Samoth – Guitars, arrangements, production, mastering
  • Alver – Bass
  • Trym Torson – Drums, percussion

Recording Date

October – December 1996

Recording Studio

Grieghallen Studio (Bergen, Norway)

Produced by

Eirik Hundvin (Pytten), Ihsahn and Samoth

Album Themes/Concept

Triumph and Majesty: The album’s sound and lyrics evoke a sense of grandness, power, and an almost regal darkness. There’s a feeling of rising above, a celebration of might and of the ‘self’ as an emperor.

Individualism and Will: There’s a strong undercurrent of Nietzschean philosophy present in the lyrics – the focus on defying norms, embracing the ‘will to power’, and forging one’s own path.

Anti-Christian Sentiment: True to its black metal roots, the album carries themes against organized religion, particularly Christianity, with a blend of defiance and blasphemy interwoven.

The Occult and the Mystical: While not narratively specific, the album hints at esoteric knowledge, spiritual battles, and a fascination with the darker elements of the occult.

Album Mood

Triumphant and Powerful: The blast beats, fast tremolo-picked guitars, and Ihsahn’s vocal delivery create an aggressive sense of power and almost arrogant grandeur.

Dark and Occult: The symphonic elements add a layer of mysticism and darkness. The lyrical content, even when focused on individual power, hints at darker forces and hidden knowledge.

Cold and Majestic: Unlike some black metal, it’s not predominantly melancholic. The emphasis is on might and control, creating a cold, regal atmosphere.

Album Trivia

Drummer Incarceration: Drummer Trym Torson was arrested and imprisoned shortly before the album’s recording for his involvement in the Norwegian black metal church burnings. This led to Faust (from the band Enslaved) serving as a session drummer for a few tracks.

Controversy over Faust’s involvement: Due to Faust’s conviction for murder, there was significant debate and controversy about his participation as a session drummer on the album. This added to the ‘notoriety’ surrounding the release.

Shift in Sound: This album marked a major shift for Emperor, incorporating more symphonic elements and complex arrangements than their earlier, rawer black metal work. This new direction was highly influential but also divisive among fans.

Lyrical Inspiration: Ihsahn drew inspiration from Romantic poets like Percy Shelley and Lord Byron when writing the album’s lyrics. This gives an interesting counterpoint to the expected black metal influences.

Release Date

May 19, 1997