By the time I got through the second track, I realized that I was listening to a special album. “Scarab” kicks in with all the metal menace that we would expect from one of the legends of the black metal world, it’s just that Ihsahn adds so much class to the music. Yes . . . class. Wait until you get to the break between verses. The heavy riff rolls like a cloud of smoke into this beautiful, almost calypso-like, polyrhythm. The interweaving sounds of the drums, an acoustic guitar running through its arpeggios, and the distorted guitars squeezing every ounce of note from the strings creates this beautiful segue between the songs lyrical introspection. Twists and turns encompass much of the song, and the guitar solo is a shredder as it’s layered over some brilliant rhythm work. But wait until you get to the mid-point of the song where everything just drops away and we’re left with an acoustic piano and Ihsahn’s clean vocals. Before you know it, you’re being transported to a land of burning incense and desert romance. Incredible! Music doesn’t get much more epic than this.
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