When bands and musicians say the experiment in their music only to please themselves, there is always that lingering concern that holds them back to truly revolutionize their sound to avoid upsetting their fans. Ihsahn is one of those that keeps true to his vision and always pushes the boundaries of his sound to please his creative endeavors, and “Pharos” is the latest example of this. Featuring three original songs and two covers, this release explores Progressive Rock/Metal territories while still delivering some of his signature staples.
The release opens with “Losing Altitude”, a track that reminds us of “After” but with a more definite Proggy vibe and no harsh vocals. The vocal and atmospheric arrangements are brilliant and quite neat, perfectly paired with Ihsahn signature guitar riffs and crispy distortion. Delivering serious Haken vibes, “Spectre at the Feast” is another exploratory piece with lush atmospheric arrangements, a pulsating bass guitar line and soaring vocals.
Continuing with the EP’s title track, we get a lush piece that slowly builds up to deliver some lush arrangements and hypnotic vocal harmonies. The thunderous guitars provide a very nice contrast in such a mellow piece. Covering Portishead’s “Roads”, Ihsahn explores a darker version of the song with dramatic arrangements and emotive vocals. One of the most unique pieces in this album is the A-ha cover of “Manhattan Skyline”, with non-other than Einar Solberg on vocals, creating a very immersive and lush experience. This is by far our favorite cover of 2020, as Ihsahn’s ripping guitars perfectly pair with the magical synths.
Overall, “Pharos” offers the listener an insight into Ihsahn’s evolution as a musician while still delivering some of his trademark elements. If you are expecting Black Metal or extreme heaviness, be sure to keep spinning “Telemark” for that, otherwise, you will be greatly surprised by the level of musicianship and playfulness of this EP.
Release: September 11th, 2020
Genre: Progressive Metal/Rock