For almost two decades, Ihsahn has remained one of the metal community’s most skilled and enigmatic performers. As the front man for seminal Norwegian black metal band Emperor, he helped to redefine the parameters of the genre, among the first to incorporate keyboards and a wider range of influences. With his solo career, he would forge a more progressive path with elements of folk, jazz, and metal culminating in the trilogy of The Adversary, angL, and After. With Eremita, Ihsahn puts all of his talents to their utmost, unleashing a full frontal assault of instrumental brilliance and compositional fortitude.
“Arrival” begins with a complex array of guitar riffs and vile organs, Ihsahn’s vocals as acerbic as ever as his signature raspy scream gives way to a mournful, operatic tenor that reinforces the song’s melodic aspects. As Eremita progresses, the listener is consistently challenged with a ferocious display of musical technicality, from the choral refrain atop a tapestry of acoustic arpeggios and menacing chord structures on “The Paranoid” to the thunderous and jazzy “The Eagle and the Snake,” Jørgen Munkeby’s saxophone coupled with Ihsahn’s complex solos and arrangements and soulful melodic vocals making for a haunting and lush nine minute epic. As well, there is the slow and atmospheric “Catharsis,” Munkeby’s sax adding to the already tense ambience amid seething vocals, sustained guitars, and Tobias Ørnes Andersen restrained yet highly rhythmic drumbeats. “Something Out There” will in its faster segments remind listeners of Emperor’s later releases with fierce blastbeats and syncopated guitar and keyboard riffs creating a tumultuous symphony, while “Grief” presents a melancholy interlude of dissonant strings. “Departure” ends Eremita at first with a somber buildup of strings and tribal rhythms, chugging guitars hinting at the explosive controlled chaos that ensues, shifting from quiet melodic introspection to violent heavy metal alchemy.
With Eremita, Ihsahn has crafted a fantastic masterpiece of progressive metal that easily ranks as one of the most technically proficient and compositionally stimulating ever recorded. Besides the infusion of jazz elements throughout, the vocal harmonies deserve special mention, featuring accompaniments by Einar Solberg, Heidi Tveitan (a.k.a. Ihriel of Peccatum and StarofAsh), and Strapping Young Lad’s Devin Townsend, all of whom help to give Eremita an added dimension of ethereality. Ihsahn’s music is certainly not for the casual music listener, and most fans of progressive metal may even find it too experimental for their tastes; there is little in the way of simplicity or catchiness on this album, but if you have an ear for sheer musical artistry, Eremita will provide beautifully.
Ihsahn Website http://www.ihsahn.com
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Ihsahn Twitter https://twitter.com/Ihsahn_official
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Mnemosyne Productions Website http://www.mnemosyne.no
Amazon CD (Standard)
Amazon CD (Deluxe)
Ilker Yücel (Ilker81x)