IHSAHN — After

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IHSAHN - After cover
3.99 | 44 ratings | 7 reviews
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Album · 2010

Filed under Progressive Metal


1. The Barren Lands (5:12)
2. A Grave Inversed (4:25)
3. After (4:48)
4. Frozen Lakes on Mars (5:55)
5. Undercurrent (10:00)
6. Austere (6:16)
7. Heavens Black Sea (6:15)
8. On the Shores (10:13)

Total Time: 53:04


- Ihsahn / vocals, guitar, keyboard, piano
- Asgeir Mickelson / drums

- Lars K. Norberg / fretless bass
- Jørgen Munkeby / saxophone

About this release

Label: Candlelight Records
Release Date: January 26, 2010

Recorded during the first half of 2009 at Ihsahn's own Symphonique Studio, with additional work at Toproom Studio (co-engineered by Borge Finstad).

Thanks to Stooge, UMUR, adg211288 for the updates

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Specialists/collaborators reviews

"After" is the 3rd full-lengh studio album by Norwegian progressive metal artist Ihsahn. The album was released through Candlelight Records in January 2010. It´s the successor to "angL" from 2008. All instruments and vocals are handled by Ihsahn, except the drums which are played by Asgeir Mickelson and session musicians Lars K. Norberg and Jørgen Munkeby who perform fretless bass and saxophone.

Stylistically "After" is a natural continuation of the progressive metal sound on "angL (2008)". Ihsahn sings both raw blackened vocals, but also performs strong clean vocals, and the instrumental part of the music is a sophisticated and very dynamic combination of progressive metal/rock and various more extreme metal oriented elements (and the occasional nod towards avant garde). Both the vocal and the instrumental performances on the album are of a high quality and generally just reek class. References to artists like Opeth, Enslaved, and Leprous are valid.

While Ihsahn certainly isn´t the most extreme of artists, there are still some relatively hard-edged moments, and his raw snarling vocals are also pretty rough and probably wouldn´t be easy to appreciate, if you´re not accustomed to extreme metal vocals. The music also features both melodic sections, and some melancholic atmospheric moments though, which should please fans of atmospheric progressive metal/rock. So it´s safe to say the material is varied and loaded with contrasts. Dark/light, loud/quiet, hard-edged/mellow. Ihsahn masters most elements to perfection.

All material on the 8 track, 53:04 minutes long album are well written and memorable. While all tracks are equally strong and nothing is sub par on the album, the 10 minutes long "Undercurrent" is to my ears one of the highlights. "After" features a powerful, clear, and detailed sound production, which suits the material well, and upon conclusion it´s another high quality release by Ihsahn, showing both enough development to keep the fans excited, but also consistency of sound and quality. A 4 star (80%) rating is deserved.
Ihsahn's post-Emperor projects have never quite gained the prominence of the mighty Emperor, but albums like After might be worth a reappraisal if you happen to like the more progressive direction his work has taken. As with much of his post-Emperor work, it's a mixture of progressive metal and black metal influences, and I'd say it's more on the prog metal side of the equation than black metal (blackened prog metal rather than progressive black metal), with really only the vocals steering towards a more black metal direction a lot of the time. Jørgen Munkeby of Shining's saxophone is an unexpected addition - for better or worse, the mighty sax hasn't had much of a presence in metal - but a welcome one. Still, I can't help but think that as far as experimental progressive metal with a black metal aesthetic goes, both Shining and Ihsahn's unleashed apprentices in Leprous kind of outshine this.
Conor Fynes
'After' - Ihsahn (8/10)

Best known as the frontman for the legendary black metal band Emperor, Ihsahn's solo work takes quite a different approach than anything we might have heard from his former flagship band. As can be readily heard on his third studio album 'After', the man now takes equal sound from progressive music as he does with black metal, and the end result is an inventive brand of black metal that far outweighs his earlier work in terms of complexity and diversity, but equal in feeling and atmosphere. While not holding as much of a personal significance as his second solo album 'Angl' does, 'After' shows the man developing his progressive metal sound to incorporate more experimental and unpredictable elements, resulting in an excellent album altogether.

With 'Angl', I was greeted with intelligent performance, some technical riffs and proggy elements, but the focus was always around the songwriting and the thought put into it. With 'After' now, the songwriting is fleshed out into a more epic scope, allowing for such longer compositions as 'Undercurrent' and the closer 'On The Shores' to take their place on the album. With greater room for experimentation, Ihsahn lets the songs build on their own time, and the end result is usually very effective musically. However, it does feel as if the songwriting has taken a bit of a toll here when compared to 'Angl'. Despite added complexity to the arrangements and more involved pieces of music, it does make me miss the to-the- point and tight experience the second album had to offer. That being said however, 'After' features some points that could easily surpass almost anything 'Angl' had to offer.

Perhaps the most noticeable difference here when compared to Ihsahn's earlier work is the incorporation of heavy jazz elements, primarily the common use of a tenor saxophone, played brilliantly by Jorgen Munkeby. Although this is certainly a progressive black metal record by and large, it is the saxophone that drives the music quite often, becoming most noticeable with the most frenetic song 'A Grave Inversed', and on a solemn theme that is repeated throughout much of the latter half of the album. On top of the overt jazz influence in the use of saxophone, there is also a fretless bass used that gives Ihsahn's sound an added depth of class to it, proving that he is not an artist that is simply talented in, or limited to the genre of metal.

The production and performance here are both the best Ihsahn has ever done, which only adds to the intensity of the music. Were it not for a few still great, but less interesting moments on the album such as 'Frozen Lakes On Mars' or the greater part of 'Heaven's Black Sea', Ihsahn would have a real masterpiece on his hands.
2010, the majority of metal releases I've heard don't do much for me, but the old pioneers from the 90s keep surprising me with fresh and inspired albums. And just like Enslaved, also the project around mr. Ihsahn (from their Norwegian soul brothers Emperor) released an inventive and powerful album.

After contains technical modern metal, it’s somehow similar to Enslaved's Axioma Ethica Odini but Ihsahn has moved further away from their black metal roots then Enslaved. The hoarse shrieks are still chilling as of old, but the music is more diverse, often rooted in thrash metal, sometimes in black metal, and quite often in Voivod prog metal. Ihsahn even incorporate some elements from jazz and avant, mainly evident in the tasty addition of saxophones and fretless bass. Also the production is fantastic; in an age of overstressed production values this album avoids the constant and deafening loudness of your regular modern metal album.

As usual the vocals are split between clean vocals and vile black metal screams. Both work perfectly on this release and accentuate the great dynamics and diversity on this album. Obviously, the shrieks and growls are a notorious acquired taste and for sure we can expect a negative review pointing at that element any day soon.

This album is comparable to Enslaved's Axioma Ethica Odini but it is more technical and innovative, while Enslaved’s album is more atmospheric and intense. I have a slight preference for the intense and atmospheric angle but in fact both albums are equally fantastic. Hail Norway!
When I saw After, Ihsahn’s third solo release, in the stores, I was both pleasantly surprised (It was the first time I’d heard of the album) and slightly worried at the same time. I had enjoyed both The Adversary and angL upon their release, but didn’t know whether or not Ihsahn could maintain such good quality in songwriting. The first listen quickly brushed off any doubts I once had. After is, without question, among the best music I’ve yet to hear created by Ihsahn.

After contains several strong guitar riffs, including the riff in the verse of “The Barren Lands”, the intro to “Frozen Lakes on Mars”, and the main melody in “Heaven’s Black Sea”.

It’s tough for me to list standout tracks on this release. There is a fine balance of tracks with Ihsahn’s brand of metal (“The Barren Lands”, “Heaven’s Black Sea”), and tracks driven by melodic and clean instrumentation and vocals (“After”, “Austere”). No matter what form the track takes, they often have rather majestic, progressive qualities. Some are even epic beyond their running time.

There is a good blend of Ihsahn’s growling and melodic vocals like on his previous solo work. I’m a fan of his clean voice and am glad he uses his solo albums to showcase it.

Spectacular use is made of the saxophone on this recording, not sounding out of place at all within these metal songs. Whether used in the up-tempo “A Grave Inversed” or the marvelous theme shared by both “Undercurrent” and “On The Shores”, Jorgen Munkeby’s sax work gives this album an additional splash of colour. The rhythm section of fretless bassist Lars K. Norberg (Nice solo in “Austere”!) and drummer Asgeir Mickelson play quite tastefully.

After is easily worth the investment. The album has qualities that should please Emperor’s black metal fans, progressive rock/metal aficionados, and most in between. After is essential listening!

Members reviews

It’s a crime that the dictionary definition of “musically talented” isn’t “Ihsahn”. Vegard Sverre Tveitan, widely known as Ihsahn of Emperor, Peccatum, Hardingrock and many other projects (which are too numerous to be mentioned here), has released his 3rd solo album this year, named After. After presents a new form of the music from his previous two releases, The Adversary and angL, containing all the elements from these two records, but strictly rounded inside, with even more experimentation and originality.

Ihsahn’s experimentation, which began with Emperor’s Prometheus: The Discipline of Fire & Demise, is expanded upon greatly in this album. Who would imagine the appearance of saxes in the music of a former Emperor member? Well, it happens, and happens to work out very well. Jørgen Munkeby, a fellow Norwegian and member of Shining, does some sax work on this record and with of Asgeir Mickelson (Borknagar, Spiral Architect) on drums and the addition of Lars Norberg on bass, the tradition of having guest musicians on Ihsahn’s albums has continued.

When I say The Barren Lands is one of the weakest songs on the album, I mean that in the best way possible. This track is amazing, but the rest of the tracks are even more amazing. I just think they have more to give. A Grave Inversed is probably the only song on the album which is pleasing for strict black metal fans, but I guess that tons of other bands can be a substitute for that. Other than that, After gives us a clear understanding of the term “progressive”. It is most evident in his guitar playing, which is incredibly complex. Undercurrent is the first of two lengthy songs and it’s one of the pillars of this album, the other one being On the Shores. Characterized by a calmer opening with Ihsahn’s clean vocals, it soon becomes a real rocking hit, with blastbeats, dark keyboards and strong guitars. I find second half of the album to be more interesting than the first four songs and the absolute best is left for the very end. The last two pieces, Heavens Black Sea and On the Shores are my favorites. I must, however, praise the very nice proggy keyboard solo in Austere which reminds me a bit of Per Wiberg’s playing in Opeth. Heavens Black Sea is an interesting piece because of its rhythm changes and great guitar solo. Jorgen’s saxes without doubt fit best on this and the following track, which is the aforementioned On the Shores. This song is definitely the climax of the album. At least, I like to think so. It features all of the good elements this album carries. Well done sax parts, guitar playing and vocals with a remarkable bass section.

No matter of how much this album IS interesting, I can’t say it’s my favorite, simply because I find that it doesn’t top the first one. If nothing else, this album shows us very good, well balanced song structure that consists of calm to furious parts fly all over the record.

After all, this album needs to be listened and you will simply like or dislike it. No other options. One is sure, Ihsahn has not disappointed with this record. Still, we have to see what comes after After.
Prog Geo
I would say that angL is my favorite album(because of Unhealer).But this album is the best for me(and my favorite).Because is more progressive and the Akerfeldt's influence on Ihsahn's vocals is here.Ihsahn's vocals are peaceful and soft.His screams is characteristic and unique.There are very good riffs(on 8-string guitar!),nice acoustic parts and wonderful saxophone playing by Jurgen Munkeby.

The artwork is mysterious but very good.I think that symbolises the afterlife.But I'm not sure.

My favorite tracks are:The barren lands(my 3rd favorite track),After,Undercurrent,Austere(my 2nd favorite track),On the shores(my favorite track,it has great sad saxophone leads).

This album is an extreme prog metal gem!Maybe the screams will bother some people.But I recommend it to all music fans.

My grade:10/10

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