Emperor confronted their Melbourne fans with all the menace that's made them famous

It was an intimidating display from the Norwegian black metallers.

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Sally Townsend

Tasmanian black metal devils Ruins take the stage first, and they are absolutely steaming with rage, projecting waves of anarchy to the audience. The entire band is in a frenzy, with vocalist Alex Pope spitting out deep throated growls fueled by vengeance. He waves his hands about as if evoking an incantation, punches the air and even plays air guitar to join his brethren on their instruments.

The entire band headbangs at the same time, showing a sense of rhythm along with their enthusiasm at being onstage. The audience, while captivated by the set, aren’t too rowdy – some join in with the headbanging but most are entranced and just enjoying the band’s exciting stage persona.

We all wait for around forty-five minutes before Emperor jump onstage, seizing the venue like the Norwegian black metal kings they are. They kick off with ‘Alsarvtr (The Oath)’, which immediately revs up the audience. The band are on a plane that we can’t reach, delving into the darkness of their souls they inject passion into ‘Thus Spake The Nightspirit’, which has the crowd singing along.

Vocalist Ishahn has a powerful voice which reverberates around the venue, while the rest of the band amp up the intensity of the set. Emperor have recurring orchestral rhythms intertwined with their music, which has continually enhanced their stance in the black metal world. Their performance of ‘The Loss and Curse of Reverence’ displays a striking palette of orchestral metal, along with ‘The Majesty of The Nightsky’.

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Emperor have also had a colourful history, which really illuminates their journey as a band – they have endured conflicts with the law that have broken them up multiple times, but the power of their music always draws them back together again. Their bold stage persona and insane energy really show just how determined they are to overcome their adversities. They will not be swept under the rug – they are a force to be reckoned with, a tornado of fury and passion.

‘I Am The Black Wizards’ and ‘Inno A Santana’ entice the audience, further boosting the mystical energy that the band projects through their complex sound. It also feels like a nostalgic turn of the clock; a shout-out to their first album In The Nightside Eclipse, which was a catalyst to the rising platform of black metal in the ‘90s. The band conclude with ‘Towards The Pantheon’, earning a lot of cheering and enthusiastic shouts from their audience who don’t want the set to end.

Emperor threw a mind-blowing performance, creating a sensory environment that seemed to transport their audience into a whole new world. In doing so, they proved that their position as masters of black metal is still ironclad.

Highlight: The suspenseful beginning of Emperor’s set – the room was dark except for blue spotlights, and the orchestral kickoff of ‘Alsarvtr (The Oath)’ enhanced the mystical fantasy vibes.

Lowlight: The wait before Emperor played felt like ages.

Crowd favourite: ‘I Am The Black Wizards’.