Delivering his most ambitious album to date, today we have Ihsahn and his eponymous release, the eight full-length album of his solo career. After a couple of EP’s in between releases, Ihsahn blends cinematic orchestrations with his already quite refined and yet constantly evolving Proggy Black Metal. Featuring both a ‘Metal’ version, and a purely orchestral version, this release is quite the musical journey and a stop above the excellent quality we always expect from Ihsahn.
After the mood setting orchestral opening, “The Promethean Spark” brings us back to more familiar territories with crafty tempo changes and Ihsahn’s signature mixture of clean and harsh vocals alongside playful riffs. While the ‘Metal’ side of things is familiar, the interplay with the classical instrument arrangements is quite engaging and intoxicating. Tracks like “Pilgrimage to Oblivion” and the lush “Twice Born”, showcase a very unique blend of heaviness with fragility and a splash of vibrancy that is rare to find in Metal.
Always full of lively subtle details, songs like “Blood Trails To Love” and “Hubris and Blue Devils” have some very playful elements, brilliantly surrounded by distorted guitars and sinister atmospherics. The best track in this release has to be the dramatic “At the Heart of all Things Broken” and its very engaging atmospherics paired with moody vocal arrangements and masterful progressions from light hearted to very dramatic.
In order to get the full experience of this release, the companion orchestral version greatly adds depth to the musical compositions as it shows them under a different light. We found ourselves going back and forth between the regular version and the orchestral version just to capture some of the instrumental details behind some of the heavier pieces. Overall, we all know that we can expect quality from Ihsahn and his releases, but with this release he takes things to a whole new level, definitely something even more polished and well crafted than he has ever made before.
Label: Candlelight Records
Release: February 16th, 2024
Genre: Symphonic/Orchestral Black Metal