EMPEROR frontman Ihsahn (real name: Vegard Sverre Tveitan) has once again dismissed the idea of the band writing and recording a comeback album. The band's last studio album, "Prometheus - The Discipline Of Fire & Demise", was released in 2001 and was written entirely by Ihsahn. The band broke up shortly thereafter, with Ihsahn going on to pursue a solo career, while guitarist Samoth (real name: Tomas Thormodsæter Haugen) partook in a variety of bands, including SCUM and ZYKLON. EMPEROR has reunited frequently in ensuing years to perform live, but has continually resisted calls to release new material, something Ihsahn says won't change anytime soon.
"As you know, EMPEROR developed, at some point, I ended up making more and more of the music and eventually, I did all the music," he told Loud TV at this year's Hellfest in Clisson, France (video below). "We'd rather stop at the level where we were all creatively involved, rather than doing it for keeping the logo or for any of those reasons. At this point, there's so much nostalgia attached to what we do, and we've been in the privileged position that people have developed similar relationships to these old songs that we did, as we are fans, to other bands. It's a very humbling position to be in. If you turned it around, what kind of EMPEROR could we possibly do? What kind of EMPEROR could we possibly do? We should make something that sounds like old EMPEROR? Or should we do something like EMPEROR would sound today? If it was up to me, EMPEROR would sound like my solo records because that's how I write metal. It's kind of a lose-lose thing. The whole point of black metal, people want something that is real and has integrity of what it is. At this point, none of us can see any reason to do that beyond what we already do. Just speaking for myself, I get to play all these old songs to people who have this strong relationship to it, in a similar way as I as a fan, have. But I also get to do my solo albums and continue that musical journey, and I see no reason to change that. We are at a very fine position now that we all just get to do what all of us wants. If there's some kind of festival or some kind of show that doesn't fit into our schedule, that's fine. We do just the stuff that is cool for us to do."
Ihsahn was then asked about the recent "Lords Of Chaos" movie which depicts the early 1990s Norwegian black metal scene. The members of EMPEROR were key players in the scene, earning notoriety not only for their innovative brand of black metal, but the criminal activity of Samoth and then-drummer Faust, both of whom served jail time. Ihsahn, however, emerged with an unblemished criminal record and has often remained above the drama that was so associated with the scene. He participated in the 1998 book that eventually spawned the movie, but his involvement — and interest — ends there.
"No. I never read the book; I never watched the movie," he said. "I can understand people are fascinated by the story or the phenomenon, but on a personal level, no. I guess it's that kind of peeking mentality. People also watched 'The Dirt' for MÖTLEY CRÜE. It's just not my genre; I don't care. [Laughs] I've heard every possible version of all those things. I get confused myself. I've been called stuff and people have attributed me to these ideas or these ideas; I've been called so many things, and I'm sure it's the same thing. I've taken a lot of shit for the old EMPEROR [albums] and by the same magazines have later have praised them as important. It's gone up and down."
He continued: "The only thing I can rely on is that I have to be very narrow-minded and enjoy the ride of my passion for music and do my stuff. But the popularity or places like this, I've played high on the bill, I've played in the middle of the bill, I'm the same person. Everything else changes; it's like the stock market. [Laughs] When you put stuff out there, it's a natural tendency that people take ownership of it. I think a lot of the ideas and the aesthetics of black metal is to own things for your own self, and not make those compromises and everything. It's also just lucky. We get to do this stuff from time to time and do shows and everything, but back in Norway, we all have very private, normal lives. There's no attention around what we do, which I think is perfect. I'm there in my studio doing my thing and occasionally, I get to go out and do this, then I get to go back to Trondheim [his hometown] and be me."
Ihsahn's seventh solo album, "Ámr", came out in May 2018 via Candlelight/Spinefarm.