IHSAHN — Ihsahn

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IHSAHN - Ihsahn cover
3.71 | 3 ratings | 1 review
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Album · 2024

Filed under Progressive Metal


1. Cervus Venator (1:19)
2. The Promethean Spark (4:52)
3. Pilgrimage To Oblivion (4:20)
4. Twice Born (3:37)
5. A Taste Of The Ambrosia (4:23)
6. Anima Extraneae (1:40)
7. Blood Trails To Love (5:05)
8. Hubris And Blue Devils (7:54)
9. The Distance Between Us (4:30)
10. At The Heart Of All Things Broken (9:13)
11. Sonata Profana (1:44)

Total Time 48:37


- Ihsahn / Vocals, Guitars

Guest/Session Musicians:

- Chris Baum / Violin
- Tobias Ørnes Andersen / Drums
- Angell Solberg Tveitan / Percussion
- Tobias Øymo Solbakk / Percussion

About this release

Release date: February 16th, 2024
Label: Candlelight Records
Format: Digital, CD, CD Digibook, Vinyl

Vinyl colours: Black, Black Yolk

Also released in an orchestral version. Some releases contain both.

Thanks to adg211288 for the addition


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Specialists/collaborators reviews

siLLy puPPy
As one of the pioneers of symphonic black metal with his innovative band Emperor, IHSAHN together with his buddy Samoth left the 90s as one of the most influential and popular black metal bands of the entire decade. While Emperor would stop making albums in 2001, IHSAHN focused on his side project Peccatum briefly but ultimately reemerged as a solo artist in 2006 with a shift to a more progressive avant-garde metal sound that still retained the core elements of black metal. It all began with “The Adversary” and some 18 years later IHSAHN is still cranking out quality experimental metal with his latest self-titled eighth album once again capturing the attention of the world of extreme metal.

Deviating significantly from 2018’s “Àmr” which saw IHSAHN approaching a more commercial sound at times, this eponymously titled release looks back to the Emperor years and rekindles the spirit of symphonic black metal only this time he replaces the synthesized embellishments with a fuller orchestral sound courtesy of advancements in sampling technologies. While orchestrated metal albums are hardly anything new, IHSAHN delivers a anew approach that eschews a mere symphonic backing and rather features two independent musical scores laid upon each other resulting in not only a more dynamic symphonic metal approach but also by spawning a secondary release that features the orchestral side of the equation exclusively.

Almost sounding like Emperor is playing over a Hollywood blockbuster soundtrack of some sort, IHSAHN crafts his usual mix of nerdy progressive metal replete with all the avant-garde elements that makes him exist in a world of his own along with the black metal raspy vocals, thundering guitar riffs and percussion to match. The album that features 11 tracks at nearly 49 minutes is reminiscent of some of Dimmu Borgir’s later releases that offer an equal playing field for the orchestral musical score that oft soars above the black metal mania. And while the album sounds like IHSAHN has been accompanied by an entire philharmonic orchestra at times, the guest musicians only add up to three additional percussionists and a violinist leaving IHSAHN the chore of handling vocals, guitar, bass and orchestral sampling.

IHSAHN is actually quite a diverse album (would you expect anything else?) with varying tracks that features clean vocal led prog metal as on “The Promethean Spark” to full out raging black metal on such tracks as “A Taste Of The Ambrosia” but scattered throughout are tidbits of pure classical orchestration as heard on the opening “Cervus Venator” and the middle intermission “Anima Extraneae.” Tempos vary, dynamics vary and stylistic approach may but the gist of this is a mix of crunchy black metal in tandem with classical orchestrations. Tracks like “Blood Trails To Love” feature a mix of the clean vocal prog metal with the raspy more extreme black. While hinting at Emperor’s past glories, the metal on this release isn’t nearly as full throttle as such magnus opuses as “In The Nightshade Eclipse.”

Overall IHSAHN is a decent album but it’s a bit uneven with no clear stylistic approach really dominating. While that can become a good thing if the sum of the parts add up to something more profound, this album seems a bit scattered which at times reveals both the metal aspects and the orchestral ones seem to cancel each other out a bit. The novelty of orchestral metal has long worn off and the execution of this seems less than satisfying. The addition of dreadfully long moments such as the album’s 9-minute version of a ballad - “At The Heart Of All Things Broken” is actually really cheesy and i seriously would love to cut that entire track from the playing list.

The album seems to lose steam too much with half-assed percussion and metal that doesn’t get up to full force. The orchestral parts just seem to dance around and don’t really offer a very memorable experience either in a meaningful way. All in all it’s a decent album but hardly one of IHSAHN’s best. All the rave reviews about this bely it’s downsides. I was somewhat impressed on the first listen but more attentive listening sessions reveal serious flaws that i can’t shake. The patchiness of the album ruins its flow but as on all IHSAHN albums there are more than enough moments of triumphant victory. As a true fan i couldn’t imagine not owning this but it certainly won’t rank as a top contender for favorite IHSAHN releases.

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