Tuesday, June 5, 2007

They Am the Black Wizards

Performing with Emperor was one of the most difficult feats in our decade of existence. We've played with many "big names" in the past and I've never felt intimidated in the least. Then again we've never played with one of the single most influential bands of a genre, never mind their high degree of musicianship. The situation was not helped when the entire show schedule was pushed back by an hour and a half which meant our stage time was 7:45 instead of 9pm, and we were notified of this mere minutes before the doors opened. The main problem in these situations is a question of mental preparedness; once we are aware of a timetable, we then slowly move towards the point when we stop being mortal individuals and become Averse Sefira as an entity unto itself. A sudden change in plans can be jarring and lead to distraction or anxiety. Despite these pitfalls we are, like any seasoned unit, adaptable and I do not think our performance suffered. Our intrepid French visualist Valnoir was on hand to take live photos (as shown here) as well as some compelling candid shots that will likely not surface until long after the band is dead and gone.

Back to the challenging nature of Emperor- in the last handful of years the band has cultivated a more discerning and often less metal fan base and with this in mind we were expecting an uphill battle and potentially a room full of crossed arms and furrowed brows while we performed. I am pleased to say that New York did not let us down and our reception was positive, though maybe not as manic as our last appearance. We were informed later that the last time Emperor played here the opening acts were all but booed off the stage, so it seems that we managed to hold our own against the Norwegian juggernaut. The band members themselves were cordial, and before long I found myself in a conversation with Ihsahn about our respective bands and our convergent histories. I respect Emperor greatly for their contributions and talent, but it was also interesting to see first-hand how divorced they are from the movement they helped to forge. These days, Ihsahn is a pure musician and not a Black Metal maven in the least. The band's performance underlined this reality in that it was note-perfect, laden with virtuosity, and not in the least bit dark or threatening. It was telling that one of the show's highlights was Ihsahn's singing at the end of the song "Thus Spake the Nightspirit". Again, there was immense talent on display, but only a small amount of Black Metal to be culled from the experience.

In any event, I am still impelled to finish this entry with the requisite humbleness by stating that it was a rare honor to meet and perform with Emperor. I doubt we (or any band, for that matter) will have another opportunity like this. Their legacy is the Black Wizards indeed.

P.S. This was Averse Sefira's last performance for the season, as we are now endeavoring to prepare the new album for recording in September. There will be related reports coming soon.