When Black Metal exploded in the 90s it paved a rather diverse and dark path into the underworld, self-destructive and powerful. Perhaps no one knew it would become one of the staples of modern Metal music. Many bands try to recreate these magical moments and try to keep these sounds alive. Some of these bands continue with unprecedented success. Allegiance owe so much to Emperor – a band from this time – that they refer to them everywhere: Emperial Black Metal, logo, their biography and of course their music. Beyond the Black Wave marks their debut album release and it is every bit Black Metal and an Emperor tribute.
Full on blast beats and intricate and progressive guitar work with layers of symphonic elements recall the Emperor sound so very well. It all feels like their tapping into ‘The Loss and Curse of Reverence’, ‘Inno a Satana’ and ‘I am the Black Wizards’, Emperor classics and more. ‘The Fall of Black Heroes’, ‘In Memory of My Essence’ and ‘The Phantom Coach’ perhaps would be their answers. Their music perfectly captures both the atmosphere and brutality of the band. The music keeps so close to this formula and manages to come away from it all with a bearing of an accomplished sound that the band fight for; it is as if their allegiance is very much with and in support of Emperor. Guitars will break into rhythms and little slower melodies and harmonic licks that you would only really hear with Ihsahn or Samoth. Drums tuned and played with the steady aggression that perfectly fits on to an Emperor record.
So… The next question lies with the band retaining their own personality. Allegiance or reliance? The snarled vocals give an effective Black Metal presence to the album and have the power to be their own. It does emulate Ihsahn a bit but, for the most part, it’s definitely not Ihsahn. It gives a whispered atmosphere, a snarl in the darkness, whilst we have the chants that you’d find in songs like ‘Thus Spake the Nightspirit’. However, it is distinctly Allegiance; it is generally hard for vocals not to retain a distinct personality.
Beyond the Black Wave perhaps is trying to continue the second wave of Black Metal by focusing on Emperor – Emperor are dead, long live the Emperor. Beyond the Black Wave could easily fit into the Emperor catalogue and that is a musical accomplishment. Some may struggle with the idea of originality but it seriously doesn’t seem like the band were trying to be anything other than keeping the Emperor sound alive. We pledge Allegiance to the almighty Emperor – the dark kingdom Beyond the Black Wave.