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Emperor were a Norwegianmarker black metal band formed in 1991. Over the years, the band's music changed to what can be called "extreme symphonic metal" in their later days. They dissolved in 2001, but reunited in 2006 and again in 2007 for a few festival dates and brief US tours. The group was founded by Samoth on drums and Ihsahn on guitar and vocals.


In their youth, Ihsahn and Samoth met at a rock music seminar. 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. Shortly after, the band was signed to the infamous first black metal label, Deathlike Silence Productions, and planned to release their next cd 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.[20736] Also in 1992, Faust lived in Lillehammermarker, and in the newly-constructed Olympic park a homosexual man named Magne Andreassen approached him and suggested that they take a walk in the nearby forest. Faust agreed, and once in the forest, the man began to make strong sexual advances towards him. Faust then stabbed the man to death, kicking him in the head afterwards to ensure that he was dead.[20737][20738] 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 Holmenkollenmarker Church in Oslo. In the summer of 1993, the band began working on their first full-length record. Emperor toured with Britishmarker group Cradle of Filth, and after this tour the band ceased wearing corpse paint; they stated that it was becoming a trend and losing its original significance and symbolism. In the autumn of that year, the police began to investigate the murder of Euronymous of Mayhem, naming Varg Vikernes (of Burzum) 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 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 output, Anthems to the Welkin at Dusk won the 'album of the year' poll in many popular metal magazines around the world, including UKmarker Terrorizer and USmarker Metal Maniacs. Bassist Alver soon left.

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.

Recently, Ihsahn announced an Emperor Tablature Book based on their Scattered Ashes: A Decade of Emperial Wrath compilation album, containing thirteen Emperor tracks from their back catalogue. It will be transcribed by Ihsahn with a foreword also by him, and is to be released October 31 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 will be preparing a second official DVD release. 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. It was released on April 16, 2009 in Europe and April 21 in North America.

Live Performances

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 Airmarker in August. Samoth unfortunately 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 was sold out in short time.

On the 28th of October 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.

Band members

Final lineup

  • Ihsahn (Vegard Sverre Tveitan) - vocals, guitar, bass guitar, keyboards (1991– 2001, 2006, 2007)
  • Samoth (Tomas Haugen) - guitars, bass guitar, drums, vocals (1991–2001, 2006, 2007)
  • Trym Torson (Kai Johnny Mosaker) - drums (1996–2001, 2006, 2007)

Former members

  • Alver (Jonas Alver) - bass guitar (1995–1998)
  • Tchort (Terje Schei) - bass guitar (1993–1994)
  • Mortiis (Håvard Ellefsen) - bass guitar (1991–1992)
  • Faust (Bård Eithun) - drums (1992–1993)

Live and session members

  • Secthdamon (Odd Tony) - bass guitar (2005–)
  • Einar Solberg - keyboards (2005–)
  • Charmand Grimloch (Joachim Rygg) - keyboard (1996–1999)
    • Also involved in Tartaros and The Thrill
  • Tyr (Jan Erik Torgersen) - bass guitar (1998–1999)
  • Ildjarn (Vidar Vaaer) - bass guitar (1993)
  • Sverd - keyboards (1994–1995)




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