Emperor -- House of Blues -- Hollywood, CA -- July 17th, 2006
This was the first and probably the only time that I will ever see the mighty EMPEROR so there was no way that I was going to miss one of their shows in their Maiden-like tour of the USA. Placing myself in the back of the House of Blues by the bar, I arrived just in time to see the opening band. Never caught their name but apparently they are from Phoenix and I wished they could have stayed there and never made the journey because they were very boring. Goatwhore was next and I was actually intrigued to listen to them because I have read so many things about them and I believe they are part of the MetalSetLists barnyard metal club. Unfortunately, I didn't really think too highly of them. Sounded like a very generic death/grind metal band. There were plenty of people excited to see them and a small mosh pit did develop but I didnt see or hear what could make them so interesting or appealing.
I made my way to the front of the stage with one more drink in hand to make sure that I had a great location to watch EMPEROR. It probably took like 30 minutes to setup their stage but soon the PA music died down, the video screen went up and the curtains opened up to reveal EMPEROR. Yes, Samoth was missing once again due to his VISA problems but just like they did in their previous 3 shows, the rest of the band carried on dutifully, energetically and passionately. The sound at the beginning wasn't very good but that was quickly fixed by the end of the opening medley. However, right away one could tell that missing Samoth's guitar was taking a lot away from the sound. The best way that I could describe it is that it sounded thin. Ihsahan did his very best to compensate but when a band uses 2 guitars you are definitely going to notice a difference and its truly a shame that Samoth couldn't make it out. In the overall picture, this took a lot away from the performance for me. Just imagine Maiden with 1 guitar (back when they had 2) and I think you will agree that it will not sound the same.
The setlist was the same as the last 3 shows and the crowd ate it up. Having the majority of the songs come from "In the Nightside Eclipse" & "Anthems to the Welkin at Dusk" was definitely appreciated by everyone in attendance and I do believe that pretty much everyone was satisfied with what they played from those albums. I would have loved to have seen "The Acclamation of Bonds" but I have no complaints whatsoever with the songs they played although "Thorns On My Grave" or "The Eruption" would have been better options instead of "In the Worldless Chamber". Even the two songs from "IX Equilibrium" got an excellent response, especially with "Curse You All Men" where a massive mosh pit erupted.
I bought a VIP ticket which meant there was sign & greet after the show. I have a few Vinyl that I could have brought but then I didn't want to lug those around all night. I was able to get a small poster signed by all of them but they were not in the most talkative mood. I tried asking about a possible future album or another extensive tour but I just got smiles and nods and not much else from them. It's still cool that I have a poster with their signatures though.
Overall, it was a good performance that could have been fantastic with Samoth. As I said earlier they definitely missed his presence. When the news first hit I wondered with how much lead time they had with the Visa application and I hope that they tried it months in advance, if that's how the process can work. However, this doesn't diminish the fact that I finally saw one of my all-time favorite bands and I am very happy that I attended this show.