Emperor : June 28, 2023 @ The South Side Ballroom in Dallas, TX

The dust has settled from Emperor’s Anthems to the Welkin at Dusk tour that saw a handful of dates in the US. The trek was the Norwegian band’s first tour of the US in 15 years. Prior to the five dates, Emperor had only played one show in the US and that was at Psycho Las Vegas in 2022.

The tour started in Chicago on June 23, followed by Brooklyn, Dallas, Los Angeles and ending July 1 in Anaheim. In tow as support at the Dallas show was Philadelphia’s Devil Master and Antichrist Siege Machine from Virginia.

Doors were set for 7:00 but the 103 degrees Fahrenheit in the shade didn’t deter fans from arriving early. The line stretched from the metal detectors outside the doors west to the parking lot. A portion of the Dallas skyline was visible as fans tolerated Texas heat while sporting metal shirts, many in black. Bands such as classic Mercyful Fate, Midnight, Hellhammer, Dark Throne and Emperor were represented by those patiently seeking entrance. Some even took the fandom to the next level sporting pleated kilts for a killer metal look.

Once the doors opened, the line started moving and quickly dwindled as continuous stream of fans entered the relief of AC.

There was some miscommunication as personnel at the front door stated the show would start at 8:00. That was not the case, Antichrist Siege Machine hit the stage a few minutes after 7:30.

The Richmond black death metal duo delivered a blasting, nonstop set. Antichrist Siege Machine’s set presentation was impressive considering it was just two individuals. There’s just a drummer / vocalist and guitarist, that’s it.

Antichrist Siege Machine drummer Scott Bartley. Photo by Brian McLean

Philadelphia’s Devil Master experienced a technical setback involving a bad connection with a bass chord, delaying their set. The down time slowly became a frustration as the band was ready to storm the stage, only to be held back. After several attempts to replace the bass chord, the issue was rectified. 

Several band members themselves were uniquely dressed for the occasion. Black capes with red linings, knee high boots fit for metal and corpse paint. Others, not so much but did have streaks of black grease paint.

Upon a close visual, the look with contrasting colors was definitely more to the black metal side. Unfortunately, the constant saturation of red front light for the entire set neutralized any contrast between colors. There was no visual impact if the band was attempting to do so. The awash of red became more of an annoyance as the band progressed through their set.

Even though Emperor’s tour consisted of five dates, appearances in any number by the Norwegian legends is cause for celebration. Local fans flocked to the South Side Ballroom and from outside of the DFW metroplex area as well, even driving several hours.

Some went as far as to say the Emperor stop in Dallas was a Bucket List show for them. The anticipation was high with an electrifying sense of excitement lingering in the air.

Excitement from fans was evident at Emperor’s show in Dallas. Photo by Brian McLean

Following the Inside the Nightside Eclipse album’s introduction with a saturation of blues and greens, Emperor launched into their opening number. “In a Wordless Chamber” from 2001’s  Prometheus: The Discipline of Fire & Demise quickly set the night in motion

Emperor wasn’t supporting a recent release for the five dates. The tour, though, was titled after the second album, Anthems to the Welkin at Dusk released in July, 1997..

Emperor did rely on the 1997 release for a decent portion of the set. Any track from the album is a classic and Emperor played six of those songs.

Fans were treated to five of those classics in a consecutive order starting with the second song of the night. Emperor fired off “Thus Spake the Nightspirit,” “Ensorcelled by Khaos,” “The Loss and Curse of Reverence,” “The Acclamation of Bonds” and “With Strength I Burn.” Each song received overwhelming approval from the crowd.

Although Emperor’s set celebrates Anthems to the Welkin at Dusk, the other studio albums received play as well.

At times it’s difficult to imagine an extreme metal band delivering a tight set but that’s what Emperor did. Every aspect of the night dealing with production, musicianship, endurance, technical ability and everything in between was in check.

Emperor is truly a notable experience of Norwegian black metal and the show is a must see. Distance from the South Side Ballroom should not even be a factor to attend or not to attend.

Emperor on stage at the South Side Ballroom in Dallas, Texas. Photo by Brian McLean

The best way to describe being in the presence of the Emperor, an inspiring rite of passage for the metal fan. For the future, it’s something for all metal fans.