Emperor: Symphony of Destruction
GW What are your live setups for these reunion shows?
IHSAHN I brought my Ibanez RG320Q, which is a very nice quilted maple top guitar I got from Ibanez last year. When I came through Chicago, Ibanez had a Special Edition RG220 from NAMM. The finish is this really nice chocolate color and so thin that you feel the wood the whole way through. We’ve been using the Engl Powerball E 645 amps. I like the Powerballs because they’re versatile and don’t have the typical Marshall scoop in the middle. I match that with a vintage cabinet filled with Celestion Vintage 30s speakers. Emperor’s sound is so straightforward that I just have a tuner, and that’s mostly there to extend the cord. [laughs] The Ibanez into the Powerball just sounds so nice.
SAMOTH I’ve been working exclusively with ESP guitars. For the tour I used the ESP Eclipse and a couple ESP LTDs: the EX 400BD and a V500. I really like the sound of the Eclipse’s EMG pickups. They’re powerful and have a lot of sustain and boost. I also like the guitar’s thin neck. I use D’Addario or GHS Boomers .010-.046 strings. I don’t use any effects for the Emperor tour. The Engl Powerball amp has so much power and boost that you don’t need any pedals at all. It’s just plug and play.
GW Are there any plans for a new Emperor album?
SAMOTH That’s the big question, isn’t it. [laughs] But no, there are no plans to write anything new. People are going to have to enjoy what Emperor have done and look forward to more Ihsahn and Zyklon albums.
IHSAHN It’s strange that people are so eager for a new album, because when Equilibrium and Prometheus were released, many people were like, “They’re good, but they’re not Nightside and Anthems.” So based on that, if we would do a new Emperor album I don’t think anyone would be pleased with it, no matter how good it would be. [laughs]
GW It would be like competing with yourself.
IHSAHN That was always an obstacle for me, feeling that I had to compete with my own past. And around the time of Prometheus, Emperor were getting a lot of attention and getting bigger, but it started to feel like it was becoming something I couldn’t control, something that people were trying to take away from me. So I guess Prometheus became a very introverted album. Where the previous albums would build up and finally open up, Prometheus builds up and then dives into something dissonant and ugly. When it came out, people said it was really hard to get into. I didn’t understand it back then, but listening back to it now I can. It’s not a very sharing album. [laughs]
GW You’re respected by artists and fans alike. What do you want Emperor’s legacy to be?
IHSAHN Respected? So I hear. [laughs] I don’t read a lot of metal magazines. And I’m always really surprised when people have actually heard of us or when I see all the dedicated fans that still come out to see us. People flew in to see these shows from Australia, Japan… everywhere. I just hope Emperor can be remembered as a noncompromising band.
SAMOTH Yes. I want Emperor to be remembered as a band that stood out and did its own thing. It’s amazing to me that we managed to make albums—like Nightside or Anthems—that to this day people consider classics in the same context as Metallica and Slayer’s records. I’m very proud that we made albums you don’t just put on the shelf and forget. Emperor’s made albums that people will constantly bring back and listen to. For me that is a great personal accomplishment.
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