Never one to adhere to expectation or formula, Ihsahn has long established himself as one of the most progressive and prolific musicians in extreme metal. So, it should perhaps come as no surprise that his latest offering is a cover of legendary electronic pop act A-Ha; with the song appearing on on his upcoming Pharos EP and featuring the vocal skills of Leprous’ Einar Solberg, “Manhattan Skyline” presents the artist’s own interpretation of his countrymen’s 1986 hit single, along with a corresponding music video directed by Troll Toftenes. Shot at sunset atop Gaustatoppen, the highest mountain in Norway, Toftenes’ breaktaking photography matches the majestic atmosphere of the song’s emotional balladry and powerful rock choruses.
Having long eschewed the confines of his black metal past in Emperor, Ihsahn’s solo material has incorporated industrial, electronic, pop, and even jazz elements while retaining a decidedly extreme and progressive metal sound that has brought him much acclaim. “When I turned 40, I stopped caring,” he states, “But if you start out playing black metal when you’re 16, it’s hardly because you want to be everybody’s favorite.” Even so, Emperor was heralded for its experimental and symphonic grandeur, with the band’s first two albums – 1994’s Into the Nightside Eclipse and 1997’s Anthems to the Welkin at Dusk – still considered landmarks for the genre; of the latter album, he comments, “There are some hints of A-Ha even on the second Emperor album!”
Pharos is the artist’s latest EP, due for release on September 11 via Candlelight Records; the EP plays as a companion to the Telemark EP released in February, the two acting as “light” and “dark” or reverse images of each other. Along with “Manhattan Skyline,” Pharos also includes a cover of Portishead’s “Roads,” along with three original compositions. Pre-orders for the EP in CD, digital, and vinyl formats are now available.
Additionally, Emperor is scheduled to perform at Beyond the Gates X, a five-day event taking place in August 2021 in Bergen with fellow Norwegian black metal progenitors Mayhem and Enslaved. Also performing at the festival will be Opeth, Sodom, Angel Witch, Tribulation, and Candlemass, with the entire event headlined by Mercyful Fate. Tickets and additional info can be found on the festival website.