Ihsahn is an artist that can truly be considered a living legend, from his pioneering efforts in the black metal band Emperor, to the countless awards he has received in his home country, culminating into a successful solo career that has now lasted six years and four studio albums, the most recent being his 2012 effort, Eremita.
The music of Ihsahn cannot easily be described as he has once again entered into the realm of musical pioneer. It’s basically black metal elements fused with progressive ideals and the utilization of a-typical ‘metal instruments’. Examples of this can be found in the unusual offerings of saxophonist Jørgen Munkeby on tracks like “The Eagle and the Snake” and “The Grave”.
This multi-layered music really takes you to places seldom experienced by metalheads; throw in some top notch efforts by additional artists like Tobias Ørnes Andersen, Devin Townsend, Heidi S. Tveitan and Einar Solberg, not to mention a quality mix by Jens Bogren, and you’ve got a release that might be considered one of the best of 2012.
This fourth effort marks the end of Ihsahn’s famed “A” trilogy, The Adversary released in 2006, AngL (2008) and After, released in 2010. While these albums started off strong, the last release did receive some criticism for being ‘musically tamer’ than prior works.
Eremita is sure to dispel any of those critics as this album contains some of the ‘hardest’ tracks that Ihsahn has offered in some time. The songs: “Arrival”, “Grief” and “The Paranoid” are definite highlights that should remind hardcore fans of Ihsahn’s black metal roots.
That being said, some of the music is so different and so complex, it definitely takes some getting used to before it can be fully appreciated. I probably listened to this album a dozen times before I could appreciate saxophones in my metal, but now that I have, I can honestly say the saxophone-enriched tracks are some of the best on the album.
Lyrically, Ihsahn is as complex as the music he plays. It often takes multiple listens before the thoughts of the artist are appreciated or at least understood by the listener. In addition, some lyrics seemed to weaken a song’s impact, like the chorus of the song “Something Out There”. I thought the song started off strong but the chorus hurt the overall strength of the track.
It’s interesting when one considers two important players of the 90’s black metal scene (Ihsahn and of course Varg of Burzum) continue to live on as solo artists. Like Yin and Yang they plod on, ever removing themselves from the music that once put them into the spotlight while at the same time releasing new music that is utterly superior to those now working in the genera they once created.
Eremita is a superb effort by a highly talented artist who continues to push the musical envelope. This expanding progression opens Ihsahn’s sound to different metal fans around the world and increases opportunities for more exposure in the future, which is always a good thing. Who knows what this genius will come up with next? \m/
02. The Paranoid
04. The Eagle and the Snake
06. Something out There
08. The Grave
Eremita will be released in Europe on June 18th through Candlelight Records.