Norwegian black metallers EMPEROR will celebrate the 20th anniversary of their "In The Nightside Eclipse" album by making a number of festival appearances this year. In addition to performing at Germany's Wacken Open Air and Sweden's Sweden Rock Festival, the band will headline the 2014 edition of the the Bloodstock Open Air festival, set to take place in August at Catton Hall, Walton-On-Trent, West Midlands, United Kingdom. EMPEROR members Ihsahn (real name: Vegard Sverre Tveitan) and Samoth (real name: Tomas Haugen) will be joined by Bård Guldvik "Faust" Eithun on drums, and they will perform the CD in its entirety. There will be no new studio album or a worldwide tour — only a few exclusive festival appearances this year to mark the celebration of this landmark release.
The first photo of the 2014 lineup of EMPEROR has now been released and can be seen above. (Photo credit: Bjørn Tore Moen)
In a 2013 interview with Exclaim.ca, Ihsahn was asked, aside from the 20th anniversary of the "In The Nightside Eclipse" record, there was anything else that pushed him to make this moment the moment that EMPEROR played some songs again. "It's a celebration of 'In The Nightside Eclipse'," he replied. "We knew we would be playing that album and material from that era. That's it, really. That's my terms for doing it, and the added bonus of having the original drummer.
"It's no secret that I've been really reluctant to ever do anything with EMPEROR again. I'm so much more focused on my solo work that I was almost fighting my past in EMPEROR. I didn't want to be just a spinoff product of that. I wanted to build something totally on my own terms, and I waited three albums in before I did any live shows because I didn't want to go 50/50, an EMPEROR/solo show. I wanted to have three albums and pick the songs that were best and play that.
"This ['Das Seelenbrechen'] is my fifth album, I've done more albums now as a solo artist, not including everything else I've done, than I did with EMPEROR. Where I'm at now with my solo career, I think it's easy to just comfortably accept my past metal as part of my musical life as well."
He continued: "I would not do something like the stuff we did in 2006/2007 again. I didn't want to play those kind of gestalt shows. I wanted this to be a celebration of that album. Because for us, personally, obviously, this was the stepping stone for me to be able to have a 20-year career. Coming from Norway and being a musician is sort of far fetched in the first place. I should say, starting a black metal band in '91. It's more paying respect to the fact that this is our starting point.
"Even before we announced [the EMPEROR reunion], there's always a constant flow of offers for EMPEROR to do this, or EMPEROR to do that. I have to say, all this nostalgia and all these bands coming back is a result of the power of metal. You don't get the big '80s rock bands anymore because there is not enough time. With the Internet and everything is so widespread, you don't get the big superstars anymore. It's very hard for young bands to build a name for themselves. People tend to just go back to what they know. I think it's a result of that. Obviously, we wanted to reunite for other reasons. Not everybody can as easily get working visas to go to the U.S.
"I've been thinking that the reason why I've been able to have a 20-year long career, and the reason EMPEROR became the institution that it became. In my book, EMPEROR as a phenomenon is much bigger now than it ever was when we were in the band. I think the reason for that is we never compromised. I've had the privilege of doing my music without compromise for all these years and I'm not going to change that now. If I was exploiting markets or potentials in a cynical way like that, if I tried to make another EMPEROR album… that would just make everything we ever did into a lie. I don't see the purpose.
"Obviously as a solo artist, I am not as big as EMPEROR. These are different times. But I get by, and I'm pulling quite big crowds when I play. So to me, it doesn't make that much of a difference. As long as I can be a free artist, I prefer that any day."
Photo credit: Bjørn Tore Moen