Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Ihsahn – Eremita


I have to admit that I have never been a big fan of Emperor, the band that made Ihsahn famous.  Maybe that’s blasphemy to some, but at least I’m honest and not all, “Oh yeah man, those dudes slay!!”  However, as a solo artist, Ihsahn does slay.  This is his fourth solo effort and they are all most excellent releases.

You really have to love a guy who does not allow himself to get, or stay, pigeon holed into one style.  Yes, there are some awesome black metal moments on this album, but there is a lot of stuff that is beyond black metal, that takes it and expands on it.  And then there are some tracks that really aren’t black metal at all, and that just makes this album more enjoyable.  The most important thing is that these tracks are all good and who cares what genre or style they are.  If music is good, if you dig it, that’s all that really matters.

From looking at the song titles I’m thinking there must be an overriding theme to the album, but without a lyric sheet or anything stating what the theme is I’m at a loss to tell you what it is.  It is a metal release after all, so you’re not going to sit down and easily decipher the lyrics.  But when a group of songs starts with “Arrival” and ends with “Departure”, you kinda think there is something going on.

With vocal guests Devin Townsend and Einar Solberg from Leprous, and guitar work courtesy of Jeff Loomis, formerly of Nevermore, there is some additional star power on this release.  Add in the very well written songs and this is currently at the top of my list for albums of the year in 2012.  It’s really that good.  There is some great use of instrumentation, with black metal saxophone courtesy of Jorgen Munkeby of Shining on several tracks, as well as some very nice symphonic touches throughout.   Track 4, “The Eagle And The Snake”, is just a perfect example of how all of these things work together.   Definitely worth checking out, it is a great piece of music.  It brings together some of the more experimental elements of the album with some straight up black metal pummeling and is just so good for all of that.  It is this entire album in microcosm.

Music is not meant to be confined in tiny, tidy little boxes and is sometimes at its best when it grabs a little from here, a touch from there, and puts sounds together in ways that are new and unexpected.  Ihsahn has been doing this over his solo career and really culminates in this new release being a feast of sounds and ideas.  I know it’s only half way through the year and maybe too early to settle on a favorite release of the year, but if there is something better than this to be released in 2012, I can’t wait to hear it.  In the meantime, I will revel in “Eremita”.


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