Sound — 9
Emperor's third and arguably best album, instrumentally lyrically and by part production wise. In IX Equilibrium Emperor presents the apex of their sound: Devastating rhythm section, incredible though scarce leads, melodic synths, clean/shriek vocal combination.
The mix is far better than Anthems to the Welkin at dusk or In the Night Side Eclipse. All instruments are audible, even the bass in given moments. Overall incredible guitar work all around, but unless you are a musician you will find that its to extreme. Even I found it to be overwhelming, and needlessly complicated and bragy at certain points.
Lyrics — 8
Lyrics differ from previous releases shifting more to a mythological aspect than classic satanic vibe. But a keen listener will be able to pick up references, some buried deep between meanings, some a bit more obvious. This album features more pronounced clean vocals which are performed tastefully and neatly arranged, once again die hards amongst the black community will argue that this a move to a commercial(ized) style both in lyrics and in vocals.
Overall Impression — 9
Some would say that Prometheus: The Discipline of Fire & Demise is a better album, and that is a valid claim, but for the sheer sound of IX Equilibrium and its feeling of...epic darkness blows Prometheus: The Discipline of Fire & Demise away.
Some of my favorites are Decrystallizing Reason, Warriors Of Modern Death, Sworn. But the album is not without flaws, and while listening you will find that often the vibe gets disrupted by dry substance-less sections.
This album also sets the stage for the move from the symphonic black metal to the last stage of Emperor: progressive/extreme metal.