Norway's Emperor band began life in 1991, founded by Samoth (Tomas Thormodsæter Haugen, drum/vocals), Ihsahn (Vegard Sverre Tveitan, guitar) and Mortiis (Haavard Elefsen, bass). Their first demo, Wrath of the Tyrant, quickly gained popularity in the underground and attracted the attention of then-start-up label Candlelight. Soon afterwards, a record contract was signed, Samoth moved to guitars, Ihsahn took over the vocal duties and Bård Faust (Bård G. Eithun) was recruited as a drummer. Following a split CD with Enslaved and some line-up changes, the band began work on their first full-length record in the summer of 1993. This album, In the Nightside Eclipse, was released in 1994 and earned them the critics' and fans' acclaim.
However, in the autumn of 1993 a series of events, which have been since documented in the book Lords of Chaos, shook the Black Metal underground. These events led to the incarceration of Samoth for arson, and of Bård Faust for murder.
After Samoth's parole, the band was joined by Trym Tornson (ex. Enslaved) on drums, and in the end of 1996, Emperor entered the studio to record what is arguably their best album to date - Anthems to the Welkin at Dusk. Featuring a much more complex and progressive sound than their earlier output, Anthems to the Welkin at Dusk won the album of the year poll in many specialized magazines around the world, including UK Terrorizer and US Metal Maniacs.
Now continuing their career as a trio, with Ihsahn handling keyboards, vocals, guitars and bass, the band recorded the more Death metal oriented IX Equilibrium and toured Europe and the United States. It was around 2000 when Samoth and Trym started to gravitate more towards death metal, while Ihsahn directed his musical exploration towards the more artistic and progressive side of extreme music, as shown by his side project, Peccatum. Thus, in 2001, Emperor decided to disband after releasing one final album, Prometheus: the Discipline of Fire and Demise, composed entirely by Ihsahn.
Today, Samoth and Trym continue playing in the Blac/Death Metal outfit Zyklon, while Ihsahn has concentrated on his family project Peccatum.