Dec 2013 23

Ihsahn - Das SeelenbrechenIhsahn
Category: Metal / Experimental
Album: Das Seelenbrechen
Stars: 4
Blurb: Shifting away from the progressive and jazzy experiments of his past output, Ihsahn delves into more abstract atmospheres to create a symphony as melodically pleasing as it is noisily unsettling.


Ihsahn has never been one to allow convention to define his work; even in his black metal days with Emperor, he strived for a greater quality of production and musicianship, incorporating keyboards to augment his cold atmospheres and gradually taking the band into the realms of blackened progressive metal. Delving into folk and operatic elements with Peccatum, and then putting all of his creative energies into his solo work, Ihsahn’s music has reached a much wider audience, appealing to fans of progressive metal, neo-classical, and even experimental jazz. With Das Seelenbrechen, he once again redefines the parameters of his musical output, though remaining steeped in the aggression and power of his metal roots.

A monstrous guitar riff and his distinctive raspy wail introduce “Hilber,” providing a recognizable entryway for those familiar with Ihsahn’s past output. Indeed, this opening track does bear the closest resemblance to what we’ve heard thus far, reminding this writer mostly of the likes of the last Emperor album, Prometheus, with its arpeggios and harmonies creating a symphonic effect, given a much more chaotic effect by the percussive breakdowns. However, it is with the somber and lush piano of “Regen” that the album takes a shift toward new directions. Even as the song erupts into a bombastic arrangement of operatic chants and orchestral brass, topped off by the howls of his voice and guitar, the song is the first indication of Das Seelenbrechen’s more classical and avant-garde focus. Similarly, the highly melodic and powerful “NaCl” with its thunderous riffs and verdant vocal arrangements, or the melancholic arpeggios and ghostly atmospheres that encompass “Rec” and “Sub Alter” all indicate a much more varied and introspective musical approach for Ihsahn. Especially with the twin assault of “Tacit 2” and “Tacit,” the first being a furious cacophony of guttural noise and despondent percussion while the latter gives form and harmonic structure to the onslaught, does the album come across more as a truly experimental piece, as if to provide a soundtrack to a bleak and epic narrative. “See” ends Das Seelenbrechen with a haunting display of rolling percussion and manipulated feedback to create a darkly ambient and almost industrialized conclusion, his signature howls closing us out like the echoes of a nightmare.

Those expecting more of the progressive jazz-infused metal of his previous outings will be surprised and perhaps even disappointed by Das Seelenbrechen. Gone are the tinges of organ and saxophone, replaced by the exploration of sound and the transformation of chaos into control as Ihsahn creates a truly audacious and exploratory album. There is enough musicality and aggression to satisfy his longtime fans as well as those with an ear for strong songwriting, but Das Seelenbrechen requires patience and fortitude as its grim ambience and noisy intricacy are neither for the faint of heart nor for those unwilling to expand the horizons of what music truly is.
Track list:

  1. Hilber
  2. Regen
  3. NaCl
  4. Pulse
  5. Tacit 2
  6. Tacit
  7. Rec
  8. M
  9. Sub Alter
  10. See

Ihsahn Website
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Ihsahn Twitter
Candlelight Records (USA) Website
Candlelight Records (USA) MySpace
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Candlelight Records (USA) Twitter
Candlelight Records (Europe) Website
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Purchase at:
Amazon CD (Standard Edition)
Amazon CD (Deluxe Edition)
Amazon MP3
Amazon Vinyl
Ilker Yücel (Ilker81x)

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