After the astonishing “After”, Ihsahn returns with the even more impressive “Eremita”. With an impressive list of achievements behind him, Ihsahn delivers an album where he builds up on the sound he crafted for “After” and delivers nine brilliant tracks of Extreme Progressive Metal in his trademark style and a nice dosage of sexy saxophone, just what the doctor ordered (at least for us).
Being backed by his ‘live band’ the super talented guys from Leprous, Ihsahn actually had the band’s drummer Tobias Ornes Andersen handle these duties for the recording of this release. Featuring the characteristic Ihsahn approach to things, he again pushes the boundaries of his musical explorations and delivers a very rich experience that has so many layers it takes more than a few spins for “Eremita” fully sink in, and be completely enjoyed.
With the powerful opener “Arrival”, the funky psychedelic keyboard nicely sets the tone for the excellent guitar layers. The traditional harsh Ihsahn vocals open this release in a very direct manner, nicely shifting into the more harmonious clean sections. The atmosphere is very similar to “After”, but it has that extra funky psychedelic edge to it that makes this song very intoxicatingly appealing. “The Paranoid” keeps things rolling with a very aggressive opening and whacky guitar sections, this track nicely jumps up and down in terms of tempo, and the horn-like sounds near the end are just outstanding.
The more mellow “Introspection” features a nice combination of psychedelic keyboards with a hefty dosage of powerful guitar riffs, all packaged in a very moody track that reminded us a bit of old Ulver, Borknagar, and Arcturus in some points. This release by far has been more aggressive than the previous one, and we are only on the third song. The brilliant sax of Jorgen Munkeby makes “The Eagle and the Snake” a very sexy piece that feels very deranged in nature with some awesome melodic and Doom-like passages, making this song one of our favorites of this release. In “Catharsis” the mood is toned down a bit, and feels like a very exploratory track that features very interesting drum patterns and melancholic vocal sections.
As many of Emperor’s and the more Black Metal fans of Ihsahn are expecting, “Something Out There” starts very aggressive and Emperor-like, but it nicely switches back and forth between the old style and the more refined Ihsahn signature style, a very interesting and well-constructed song we have to add. After the very theatrical “Grief”, “The Grave” bleeds out of it, and with a nice layer of saxophone it delivers a very dark and mysterious atmosphere. This song is quite caothic and a bit disturbing since it is more of an atmospheric piece than a full-on riffing assault track, making it a bit hard to process at first, but quite an exciting piece once it sinks in.
Closing with “Departure”, this atmospheric piece features a very interesting drum track, kind of free flowing and loose at first, before moving into more razor sharp sections. The progressive elements in this track are very solid, and the experimental stuff featured is quite intoxicating and weird at the same time. The pace is quite weird and very convoluted, creating an excellent song that goes in many different directions, but it is nicely held back by the heavy atmosphere it creates.
Overall, Ihsahn has done it once more; he manages to push the boundaries of his sound to even further and more complex spaces. This release features nine tracks of brilliant progressive music that is both extreme and melodic in nature. The guitar layers are just magical, and we can only imagine him bringing them into the live setting. If you are hesitating on buying this release, give yourself a slap in the face and get it, it is better than any of his previous albums by a metric ton of brilliance.