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IHSAHN On Why A New EMPEROR Album Won't Happen: "You Can't Compete With Nostalgia"

"Unless me and Samoth connect over a common idea that we really want to make, I really don't see that happening."

Emperor-2023-06_08

In a recent exclusive interview with Sam Acevedo of El Planeta Del Rock, Emperor's frontman, Ihsahn, delved into the challenging predicament surrounding the potential creation of Emperor's new material. The age-old question of whether the band will produce another masterpiece has haunted Ihsahn, who candidly admits it's a "lose-lose situation."

"If I had a dime, as they say, for every time people ask me, 'Will there be another Emperor album?' In the beginning, it felt maybe a bit annoying, but I've chosen to see it more as — of course, in there, in that kind of question, there's a compliment that people, like myself, who have a relationship to music from their youth or something that you're attached to, obviously it was important for someone, which is a great thing. And the question for another album is that they want to feel that again, they want to feel more of that, which is also great. But then, in practical terms, what kind of Emperor album could we make that would satisfy that desire?" Ihsahn explained.

For those yearning for a nostalgic return to the early Emperor sound, Ihsahn brought forth a thought-provoking dilemma. While it might be "easy-ish" to replicate the past, he questioned the authenticity of such a move, emphasizing that creating music solely for commercial gain contradicts the very essence of what the band stands for.

"I think it would be easy-ish to make something that sounds like early Emperor, but who would want a black metal album made to make money off some kind of conceptual idea for some kind of demand in the market? That goes against everything that the music is about, in some sense.

"And if the other way would — I mean, we ended up in a place where I wrote more and more of the music, and with the last Emperor album, I did everything. And then, if we followed that trajectory, it's very close to how I make my music today as a solo artist. And I don't think that's what people mean. So, do you want this kind of metal? This is kind of what I do already. If you want me to try to go backward and try to be a teenager again and unlearn any experience I've had as a musician, and us going to back and trying to be…"

He added: "You see how this is quite impossible. So unless planets align in the ways that me and Samoth just really connect over a common idea that we really want to make, I really don't see that happening. And also, then again, name me one band who broke up and then did a reunion record where people were, like, 'Fuck. This is amazing. This is even better than the old stuff.' It doesn't really happen because it's impossible because you can't compete with nostalgia."

The Emperor frontman also emphasized the band's love for performing their classic tracks. Despite acknowledging the less glamorous side of rehearsing, he attested to the exhilaration of live performances and the band's commitment to delivering a hundred percent every time they hit the stage.

"And also it's a risk because I would say that the culture and the atmosphere in the band and the traveling crew that we have with Emperor is probably better than it's been ever. And we have such a great time doing what we do. We love playing the old songs. It's not like we go there, 'Ah, these old songs.' It's not maybe always that fun to rehearse 'I Am The Black Wizards', but performing 'I Am The Black Wizards' live is never boring. And we really make sure we enjoy it and really put ourselves out there a hundred percent."

"I don't really see any reason to kind of tilt and risk destroying that for what could possibly be reasons that are not compatible with the uncompromising nature of what Emperor was. And hopefully, the tradition of that uncompromising attitude probably was what got us here in the first place." Ihsahn concluded.

Ihsahn forthcoming self-titled album (his first in six years) lands on February 16 alongside a second, entirely orchestral version of the same album. Pre-orders are available here.

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