IHSAHN — The Adversary (review)

IHSAHN — The Adversary album cover Album · 2006 · Progressive Metal Buy this album from MMA partners
4/5 ·
UMUR
"The Adversary" is the debut full-length studio album by Norwegian progressive extreme metal artist Ihsahn (Real name: Vegard Sverre Tveitan). The album was released through Mnemosyne Productions in April 2006. The former Emperor frontman/guitarist busied himself with the Peccatum project with his wife Ihriel (real name Heidi S. Tveitan) after Emperor disbanded in 2001, but then opted to pursue a solo career and decided to name his solo project after his stage name Ihsahn.

The last couple of Emperor albums were increasingly progressive and less black metal oriented compared to the band´s early material and it became more and more obvious that Ihsahn was the member of the band, who pulled Emperor in that direction. While the other members of Emperor went on to form the death metal act Zyklon, Tveitan maintained his progressive approach to writing music both in Peccatum and in Ihsahn. To call the music on "The Adversary" a continuation of the music on "Prometheus: The Discipline of Fire & Demise (2001)" (the last Emperor album) is maybe stretching it too far, but some of the progressive elements from the latter mentioned album, have been refined here and put into another context.

Stylistically the music draws on a number of influences and black metal is just one of them. Of course Ihsahn´s raspy vocals will always lead the listener´s thoughts toward black metal, but there are clean vocals on the album too. Mostly sung by Ihsahn but Garm (Real name: Kristoffer Rygg) (Ulver, Borknagar, Arcturus) performs lead vocals on "Homecoming" (which also features Tore Ylwizaker on vocals). Ihsahn create both raw extreme metal parts, epic keyboard heavy parts, beautiful melodic parts and manage to make them work together. The songwriting is very adventurous and it´s obvious Ihsahn has put a lot of thought into creating something unique.

The musicianship is not surprisingly, if you are familiar with any of the output that Ihsahn has been involved in earlier in his career, on a very high level. Other than Garm´s and Tore Ylwizaker´s guest appearances, and the drums which are played by Asgeir Mickelson (Borknagar, Spiral Architect, Vintersorg, ICS Vortex, Sarke), Ihsahn plays and sings everything on the album. At times the sound production and especially the drum sound is a bit thin, but it´s rarely a major issue, and overall the sound production (which Ihsahn is also responsible for) is professional and suits the music well.

"The Adversary" is probably an album that for most listeners require more than one spin to sink in (myself included). This is not full speed ahead bang your head type of metal, even though it´s powerful and raw enough when that is needed. The compositions are generally a bit more clever thought out and performed than the material on your average extreme metal release. So that´s what you get when listening to "The Adversary" (and to Ihsahn in general). A challenging, intriguing listen and a 4 star (80%) rating is fully deserved.
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UMUR wrote:
more than 2 years ago
Not much of an Emperor fan actually, but Ihsahn is pretty interesting.
siLLy puPPy wrote:
more than 2 years ago
Great review. I like Ihsahn solo albums better than the experimental Emperor albums myself. This is a really good one that like you said needs a few spins

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