Band Info
OriginNotodden, Norway
Years-Active1991–2001, 2005–2007, 2013–present
Genre(s)Symphonic black metal, black metal (early)
Label(s)Deathlike Silence Productions, Century Media, Candlelight, Nuclear Blast
Associated ActsBurzum, Dodheimsgard, Enslaved, Gorgoroth, Green Carnation, Ihsahn, Ildjarn, Mortiis, Peccatum, Satyricon, Thou Shalt Suffer, Zyklon, Zyklon-B{{{9}}}

Emperor is a Norwegian black metal band formed in 1991, regarded as highly influential by critics and emerging black metal bands. They dissolved in 2001, but reunited from 2005 to 2007 for a few festival dates and brief US tours and will once again be reuniting in 2014. The group was founded by Samoth (drums) and Ihsahn (guitar/vocals).


In their youth, Ihsahn and Samoth met at a rock music seminar.[1] The two young men began playing together under various names; first Dark Device, then Xerasia, then Embryonic. The group soon evolved into the now well-known band Thou Shalt Suffer. Soon, however, Samoth began to write music outside of Thou Shalt Suffer, and together with Ihsahn and a new bass player called Mortiis (later of his own eponymous band Mortiis), Emperor was formed. After a short while together, the band released a demo entitled Wrath of the Tyrant. It quickly gained popularity in the underground and attracted the attention of the then-start-up label Candlelight. Soon afterwards, a record contract was signed, Samoth moved to rhythm guitar, Ihsahn continued the vocal duties and lead guitars, and Faust was recruited as a drummer. The band was signed to the infamous first black metal label, Deathlike Silence Productions, and planned to release their next album soon, though the band never managed to release any material while signed to DSP.

In the summer of 1992, a series of events were set in motion by the black metal inner circle. Samoth, along with various other black metallers, set out to burn down the ancient churches of Norway. Also in 1992, Faust lived in Lillehammer, and in the newly constructed Olympic park a man named Magne Andreassen approached him and suggested that they take a walk in the nearby forest. Faust agreed, and, once in the forest, Faust claimed the man began to make strong sexual advances towards him. Faust then stabbed the man to death, kicking him in the head afterward to ensure that he was dead.[2] He was not convicted until two years later. The day after Faust committed the murder, he went with Euronymous of Mayhem and Varg Vikernes of Burzum to burn the Holmenkollen Chapel in Oslo.[3] In the summer of 1993, the band began working on their first full-length album. Emperor ceased wearing corpse paint; they stated that it was becoming a trend and losing its original significance and symbolism. In autumn of that year, the police began to investigate the murder of Euronymous of Mayhem, naming Varg Vikernes as a suspect; this investigation eventually led to the incarceration of Samoth for arson, and of Faust for the murder of Magne Andreassen.

In 1994, Samoth was sentenced to 16 months in prison for burning the Skjold Church in Vindafjord, together with Varg Vikernes. The arson was committed during a pause in the recording of the Burzum EP Aske (‘Ashes’). In 1994, In the Nightside Eclipse was released, and earned Emperor widespread acclaim and a large fanbase. The album is considered by many a definitive black metal record, with its epic, evolving song structures, ambient keyboard sounds, and raspy, spewed vocals.

After Samoth's parole, the band was joined by Trym and Alver on drums and bass respectively, and at the end of 1996, Emperor entered the studio to record Anthems to the Welkin at Dusk. Featuring a much more progressive sound than their earlier works, Anthems to the Welkin at Dusk won the 'album of the year' poll in many popular metal magazines around the world, including UK Terrorizer and US Metal Maniacs. Bassist Alver soon left.

The band played in Mexico city on July 24, 1999.

Now continuing their career as a trio, with Ihsahn handling keyboards, vocals, guitars and bass, the band recorded their third album IX Equilibrium and toured Europe and the United States. It was around 2000 when Samoth and Trym started to gravitate more towards death metal, while Ihsahn directed his musical exploration towards the more artistic and progressive side of extreme metal, as shown by his side project, Peccatum. Thus, in 2001, Emperor decided to disband after releasing one final album, Prometheus: The Discipline of Fire & Demise, composed entirely by Ihsahn.

Following the breakup, Samoth and Trym continued playing in the black/death metal outfit Zyklon, while Ihsahn concentrated on his family project Peccatum. Later Ihsahn announced a solo project, much in the vein of Prometheus: The Discipline of Fire & Demise and Peccatum, featuring drummer Asgeir Mickelson of Borknagar and Vintersorg. It has generated positive feedback in the black metal community.

The band played a surprise three-song show in Oslo on 30 September 2005, at which they announced a series of full concerts to take place in California, New York City, and Europe in 2006. As of February 2006, they were also scheduled to play at the Inferno festival in April and Wacken Open Air in August. Samoth was unable to take part in the US tour dates, as his conviction for the arson he committed in 1992 lengthened the process for his visa application, so Emperor performed without him.

On October 7, 2006, Emperor performed at the under-18 Motstøy-festival in their home town of Notodden. The band had wanted to do an under-18 gig and a gig at their home town, so the festival fit perfectly. It was held at a small venue called StuA, and with only 450 tickets available, the concert quickly sold out.

On October 28, 2006, Emperor returned to the UK to play a gig at London's Astoria venue, where the band was warmly greeted by fans. In 2007, Emperor played a series of one-off shows in the United States and two festival gigs in France and Finland.

A Tablature Book based on their Scattered Ashes: A Decade of Emperial Wrath compilation album, containing thirteen Emperor tracks from their back catalogue, transcribed by Ihsahn with a foreword also by him, was released October 31, 2007 via Candlelight Records. Emperor's albums were also re-issued in a special box version with a bonus poster on Aug. 21, 2007.

Samoth announced on October 23, 2007 that Emperor had begun preparing a second official DVD release.[4] On December 8, 2008 it was revealed that this release will be called Live Inferno and come in the form of a double-disc live album and a live DVD, taken from their appearances at Inferno and Wacken metal festivals during their brief reunion.[5] It was released on April 16, 2009 in Europe and April 21 in North America.

On August 2, 2013, it was announced that Emperor would be reuniting to headline the 25th anniversary Wacken Festival in 2014.[6] In the following months, they were announced as headliners for the 2014 editions of the Bloodstock Open Air and Hellfest festivals.

Band membersEdit

Current line-up
Former members
Current live members
  • Tone "Secthdamon" Ingebrigtsen – bass guitar (2005–2007, 2013–present)
  • Einar Solberg – keyboards (2005–2007, 2013–present)
Live and session members
  • Vidar "Ildjarn" Vaaer – bass (1993)
  • Steinar "Sverd" Johnsen – keyboards (1994–1995)
  • Joachim "Charmand Grimloch" Rygg – keyboard (1996–1999)
  • Jan Erik "Tyr" Torgersen – bass (1998–1999)


Studio albums



  1. Brad Angle (2009-08-14). Emperor: Symphony of Destruction. Retrieved on 2013-04-04.
  2. Chad Bowar: Faust Interview. Conversation With The Legendary Black Metal Drummer.
  3. Michael Moynihan, Didrik Søderlind: Lords of Chaos: The Bloody Rise of the Satanic Metal Underground, First Edition, Venice, CA: Feral House 1998, p. 94f.
  4. ZYKLON 'Taking A Break', EMPEROR DVD On The Way. Retrieved on 2011-10-29.
  5. News > EMPEROR's Live Inferno Confirmed For Worldwide Release. Retrieved on 2011-10-29.

External linksEdit

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