As a part of the Scandinavian Black Metal movement of the 1990s, Emperor became one of the most known. They were members of the so-called "Inner Circle" (a.k.a. "The Black Metal Circle"), an organization consisting of a small number of Black Metal bands, including the founder Euronymous (of Mayhem) who was murdered by fellow Satanist (and "Inner Circle" member) Count Grishnakh (a.k.a. Varg Vikernes) of Burzum. At last count this group consisted of Mayhem, Emperor, Enslaved and Burzum, as well as others, all of who were self declared Satanists and/or pagans.
Norwegian band Emperor started when Tomas Thormodsæter Haugen (a.k.a. Samoth) was thinking about a Celtic Frost / Bathory inspired band, and Vegard Sverre Tveitan (a.k.a. Ihsahn) was united with him also into the idea. They did two songs together, with Samoth on drums and vocals and Ihsahn on guitars. They played this to Haavard Elefsen (a.k.a. Mortiis), who liked it and joined the band, and Thou Shalt Suffer were born (they soon after assumed the Emperor moniker) when the equally controversial Bård Eithun (a.k.a. Faust) joined on drums so Samoth could concentrate on guitar. But it was soon discovered that Mortiis and Faust didn't get along and he was asked to leave shortly after their debut self-titled demo.
They would have their big debut with In The Nightside Eclipse (1993), an album that spewed out Black infested white noise and ambient Thrash at break neck speeds. It lacked none of the qualities of their previous EP's, the self-titled Emperor (1993; a platter they shared with Enslaved), and was followed by their second effort Hordanes Land (1994). Shortly after the album's release Samoth (drums) would serve time for burning medieval churches. Faust, however, walked the walk and talked the talk by living the gruesome tales of Black Metal for real when he killed a man in Lillihammer shortly later because the man was gay and apparently tried to seduce him. He was convicted of this and, like fellow member Samoth, he too was found guilty and sent to prison - for 14 years. Emperor now had a membership problem and Terje Vik Shei (a.k.a. Tchort) joined the band as bassist, with Faust being replaced by Trym (ex-Enslaved).
Delayed but not deterred, Samoth returned from his legal ordeals 16 months later and the band marched on to follow-up their blasts of noise with 1997's Anthems To The Welkin At Dusk and the EP Reverence that same year featuring Jonas Alver on bass. Another split EP followed, this time with fellow Black Metallers Thorns titled Thorns vs. Emperor (1998). While Trym now played bass in sessions, Charmand Grimloch played keyboards for IX Equilibrium (1999) with their first live set Emperial Live Ceremony (live) following a year later. Prometheus: The Discipline Of Fire... (2001) showed little change from their past. They called it quits in early 2002 with the members going on to other bands such as Zyklon, Blood Red Throne and Peccatum. The 10 year anniversary best of compilation would follow posthumously in 2003 titled Scattered Ashes - A Decade Of Emperial Wrath.
Between 2005 and 2007 the act reformed to play live and returned again in 2014 for more live events, but other than the live DVD in 2008, Live Inferno, they have yet to record again.