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[Review] Emperor @ Forum Theatre, Melbourne 17/05/2023

Review By Mitch Charlton

“Melbourne, are you ready to embrace the Nightside!?” I’ve always said in my reviews that I love The Forum in Melbourne, it makes every band sound and look amazing, and tonight was no different. The line out the front tonight shivers in anticipation for seeing one of the greats in the genre play one of their most prolific albums brought out. This is the second time in my life I have managed to see one of the founding bands of Black Metal play a classic album in its entirety. I was fortunate enough to see Mayhem play De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas in full a couple of years back, Cradle of Filth have been here with Cruelty and the Beast album and tonight, Melbourne gets to witness Emperor play In The Nightside Eclipse in full. If Satyricon can come play Rebel Extravaganza in full here, I’m pretty sure that would be my favourites done! HINT HINT!!

Ten years ago, I first saw The Amenta support Cradle of Filth, I’d never heard of them before that show, they then left an incredible impression on me that I went out and found a copy of their Flesh is Heir album and thrashed it for months! Then the announcement that they would be going on hiatus. I was shattered! Fast forward to 2021, The Amenta come back with a brand-new album, Revelator in 2021 and my hopes of seeing them get a little bigger, THEN comes the news that they are supporting the almighty Emperor! What a rollercoaster!

As soon as doors open, the crowd start packing the venue, although not completely sold out, it is still pretty damn full. It’s great to see the place over half full already before The Amenta start and also seeing such a diverse crowd, there are old schoolers and also younger people in the crowd, it just goes to show how influential Emperor have been over their career.

The Amenta slither out on stage to start the opening track, dressed in white shirts, ties and the skin masks from the Sere Money film clip, and then Cain, front man of this repulsive abomination of an outfit, storms the stage, in all black suit and red tie, in perfect contrast to the band. These guys have always had a flair for the theatrics of what they do, they take the art of their craft seriously and it shows in their performance tonight.

The Amenta are just as good as I remember, Cain is a commanding presence on stage and the band plays with machine like tightness. He occasionally jumps down to the bar at the front and stalks the crowd, getting in their faces, bringing them into his world of madness. They are able to create the same atmosphere live as their haunting tracks do played at home which is an incredible feat. Cain works the crowd as the band run through old tracks and new like Sere Money, Ego Ergo Sum and Teeth, just to name a few. The mix is great, everything is clear and crisp, I put it to being this venue, everyone sounds great here. The Forum tonight learns that The Amenta are back to shock and bring them into their dark world of disgust.

The reason we have all ventured out tonight, Emperor, one of the best in the business when it comes to epic sounding black metal, they walk out to the screaming crowd and kick straight off with Into The Infinity of Thoughts. Ihsahn’s voice is exactly the same as on the record, it’s incredible to hear this live, I never thought I would get to see Emperor live but seeing this album in full has been one hell of a show. I got to see him play his solo work live a few years back and he threw in a couple of Emperor tracks but this is next level, this is the true thing from start to finish. A minor technical issue causes the stop of a song a couple of tracks in and with minimal muck around they kick straight back into Towards the Pantheon. I am The Black Wizards gets the desired effect from the crowd, everyone goes nuts and when I say nuts, fans go from standing with their arms crossed, nodding to the beat to, horns up and whole-body head banging, there is minimal moshing when it comes to these types of crowds. The movement and excitement continue into Inno A Satana before they take a quick break to then come out for classics from Anthem to the Welkin at Dusk.

Watching Emperor perform was inspiring, what they have accomplished over their careers, their musicianship and skill in performing these songs, was a true sight to behold. As mentioned earlier, without the slight hiccup of a tech issue, this would have been just like the CD being put on. To play an album from start to finish as good as it was, maybe even played a little better now after decades in between, is such an amazing feat. It’s unreal to see these albums in full live, these have been some of the bands turning points in their careers. I hope that a few more bands do this type of thing when anniversaries come up. Melbourne embraced the Nightside whole heartedly! Hail to Emperor!

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