Ihsahn - Arktis. review



Reviewer:
6.0

316 users:
8.27
Band: Ihsahn
Album: Arktis.
Release date: April 2016


01. Disassembled [feat. Einar Solberg]
02. Mass Darkness [feat. Matthew Kiichi "Matt" Heafy]
03. My Heart Is Of The North
04. South Winds
05. In The Vaults
06. Until I Too Dissolve
07. Pressure
08. Frail
09. Crooked Red Line [feat. Jørgen Munkeby]
10. Celestial Violence [feat. Einar Solberg]
11. Til Tor Ulven (Søppelsolen) [feat. Hans Herbjørnsrud] [bonus]


As the solo career of Ihsahn progressed, it seemed as though this versatile multi-instrumentalist was gradually pushing his work more and more towards bolder, unexpected territories. It was a trend that arguably started with After, and that came to a peak with Das Seelenbrechen, an ambitious voyage into dark lands of the surreal and borderline Avantgarde. As a bit of a disappointment, Arktis now comes this year from a much more accessible direction, feeling like something of a ball drop after all that progress.

The one thing noticeable immediately on Arktis is that Ihsahn appears to be going for much more of a "standard prog" type of approach than before, or at least one that's more "standard fare" when compared to some of the work that he's done previously. The first two tracks set the stage for a much more conventional, verse-chorus-verse sort of composition and almost radio-friendly type sound, yet it's a vibe that gets further reinforced throughout the album from other directions. In addition, there's a far greater presence of clean vocals here than before (see "South Winds" especially, which almost feels like an attempt at a ballad). This isn't to say that Ihsahn's harsh vocals don't also appear on this album as well, but when they do, they typically pop up right after a clean section as a sort of counter, and the end result can feel rather messy due to not having much of a transition period in between these two styles of vocal delivery (see "Celestial Violence").

The "weirdness factor" from Das Seelenbrechen (which this reviewer greatly enjoyed) has also been hushed into a state of rest with Arktis. The most it really came out for me was on "Crooked Red Line," which, with the return of the talented Jørgen Munkeby on sax, sounds like some awesome smooth jazz piece interwoven with the powerful vocals and guitars of Ihsahn. It also comes out on closer "Til For Ulven," a bizarre little number in which some (non English) spoken word is set over ambient sounds before transitioning into some dissonant guitar work and shrieks from Ihsahn towards the end. These are without a doubt the two strongest tracks of the album, but by the time they rear their heads, after one has already gone through all of the less interesting, more conventionalized tracks that precede them, their impact isn't as strong or lasting as it potentially could have been. They almost sound as if they came from a different album entirely.

If Ihsahn's goal with Arktis was to create a more accessible album that will ultimately appeal to a wider audience, he most certainly succeeded. And I suppose, if one listens to Arktis expecting something close to a modern prog metal sound, it's a pretty high quality release. But this music isn't coming from someone who was ever just about "modern prog metal." It's coming from Ihsahn. And when compared to some of his previous albums, particularly After and Das Seelenbrechen, which showed a greater will to experiment and push the envelope, it comes across as disappointing. Therefore, as someone who considers Ihsahn to be at his best when he's being innovative, I don't necessarily hate Arktis. I just don't consider it to be the best he could be doing.


Rating breakdown
Performance: 7
Songwriting: 6
Originality: 5
Production: 8


 



Written on 21.05.2016 by Comforting the disturbed and disturbing the comfortable since 2013.


Comments page 2 / 2

Comments: 59   Visited by: 372 users
22.05.2016 - 03:07
Apothecary
PsyCHEdelic
Written by LeKiwi on 22.05.2016 at 02:45

Like the first comment noted...there's not much to gain from a review - especially for someone unfamiliar with Ihsahn's discog - when it stands on the comparison of a previous record or stylistic trend. That's my opinion anyway.

I still don't understand where this sentiment comes from. If you're going to reiterate the first comment here, I'll reiterate what I said in response to it. How exactly can someone not compare a new album from an artist they enjoy to what's come before it (at least, assuming that it's not the first album from said artist that they've heard, which isn't the case with me here). Isn't that pretty much inevitable? Isn't it human instinct in a way? You go through an artist's discography, your'e almost bound to find things within it that you like more than others. Likewise, you're almost bound to find things within it that you dislike more than others.

So when you hear a new album from a particular artist that you've already become accustomed to, and developed firm ideas of "I like it when they do X, but I don't really care for Y" with, I don't really understand what else exactly is supposed to happen other than making a comparison. You're probably not looking at it from a perspective of "hmmm, let me just take this one right here for what it is," you're more likely to look at it from the perspective of "does this album see this artist giving me what I like most about their style, or not?" People might want to act as if they can be that open minded about it, to the point of being able to just take each new album as what it is and not make any judgments beyond that, but in reality the large majority of humankind is nowhere near that objectively-focused. So we look at things more subjectively and compare new releases to what we (dis)like about what has come before. And hey, a review is, at the end of the day, subjective commentary. No more, no less
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22.05.2016 - 03:25
LeKiwi
High Fist Prog
Written by Apothecary on 22.05.2016 at 03:07

I still don't understand where this sentiment comes from. If you're going to reiterate the first comment here, I'll reiterate what I said in response to it. How exactly can someone not compare a new album from an artist they enjoy to what's come before it (at least, assuming that it's not the first album from said artist that they've heard, which isn't the case with me here). Isn't that pretty much inevitable? Isn't it human instinct in a way? You go through an artist's discography, your'e almost bound to find things within it that you like more than others. Likewise, you're almost bound to find things within it that you dislike more than others.

So when you hear a new album from a particular artist that you've already become accustomed to, and developed firm ideas of "I like it when they do X, but I don't really care for Y" with, I don't really understand what else exactly is supposed to happen other than making a comparison. You're probably not looking at it from a perspective of "hmmm, let me just take this one right here for what it is," you're more likely to look at it from the perspective of "does this album see this artist giving me what I like most about their style, or not?" People might want to act as if they can be that open minded about it, to the point of being able to just take each new album as what it is and not make any judgments beyond that, but in reality the large majority of humankind is nowhere near that objectively-focused. So we look at things more subjectively and compare new releases to what we (dis)like about what has come before. And hey, a review is, at the end of the day, subjective commentary

Of course! Such bias is inevitable. The way I see it, it's important to recognise that bias and, in a review, replace as much of it as possible with details instead. Indeed, bias will find it's way into every good review regardless, but it can be phrased in a way such that any first time listener of the band won't get lost. I say this as an avid reader of most of your reviews which usually rely on vivid and emotive descriptions.
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22.05.2016 - 03:33
Apothecary
PsyCHEdelic
Written by LeKiwi on 22.05.2016 at 03:25

Of course! Such bias is inevitable. The way I see it, it's important to recognise that bias and, in a review, replace as much of it as possible with details instead. Indeed, bias will find it's way into every good review regardless, but it can be phrased in a way such that any first time listener of the band won't get lost. I say this as an avid reader of most of your reviews which usually rely on vivid and emotive descriptions.

A fair point then. Like I said above, I do value being able to express distaste with an album without totally losing my shit and going off on a rant about it, and that's what I think I did here (or tried to, at least). Expressing what I didn't care for and why with specific examples. Maybe it's something that's just bound to happen when you're reviewing something more negatively, naturally if you're more enthusiastic about something you're probably going to want to describe what makes it so great to you more and therefore have many more words for describing it
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22.05.2016 - 14:40
LeKiwi
High Fist Prog
Written by Apothecary on 22.05.2016 at 03:33
Maybe it's something that's just bound to happen when you're reviewing something more negatively, naturally if you're more enthusiastic about something you're probably going to want to describe what makes it so great to you more and therefore have many more words for describing it

Yeah, that's the thing with writing reviews from a negative standpoint - the words don't come as easily. Anyways, I should probably shut up and leave the comments for people who want to talk about the album
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22.05.2016 - 16:16
Enemy of Reality

Written by Apothecary on 21.05.2016 at 21:13

Written by Enemy of Reality on 21.05.2016 at 21:00

...after what was for me Ihsahn's magnum opus, Eremita

That's actually the only Ihsahn album I haven't yet heard, honestly. But considering it comes after After (that was fun to type) and before Das Seelenbrechen, I'm curious as to whether or not it bridges the gap between them in any way. How would you describe the overall sound?


I don' t know. It felt experimental (in the right amount), heavy, progressive and the songs were catchy. And it has Nietzsche in the front cover!

This was the best song of the album for me:

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22.05.2016 - 17:16
Unhealer
Eclecticist
I was also disappointed by this album, didn't like the approach at all. At least we know he never sticks to a formula so hopefully his next endeavours won't take him to this path again.
Production is godly though, I think it deserved a mention, it's the best feat of the album for me.
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22.05.2016 - 18:25
Apothecary
PsyCHEdelic
Written by Unhealer on 22.05.2016 at 17:16

Production is godly though, I think it deserved a mention, it's the best feat of the album for me.

Notice I gave it a higher rating than any of the other sub-ratings, so we're in agreement there
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22.05.2016 - 22:19
Bad English
Tage Westerlund
Til For Ulven
To order a wolf
Ulven is old Swedish world for a wolf, not its en varg .... so I bet you can translate it so
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I better die, because I never will learn speek english, so I choose dieing
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23.05.2016 - 00:03
RichardPickman

Seriously.... I am watching Metalstorm since a lot of years, reading the reviews and news. I stumbled onto this page maybe 10 years ago. Until now i never posted anything. This review, regardles if subjective or not, lacks some facts. No, i am not bought or am i in any kind related to Ihsahn or his Publisher. But a plain 6 for his album? Come on. It was stated before, that Ihsahns love of classic and nordic Rock/Metal would influence his new album. And yeah, some of his Riffs can be compared to Opeth and stuff. But this doesn´t justify a 6. This is not St. Anger.
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23.05.2016 - 00:14
Apothecary
PsyCHEdelic
Written by RichardPickman on 23.05.2016 at 00:03

Seriously.... I am watching Metalstorm since a lot of years, reading the reviews and news. I stumbled onto this page maybe 10 years ago. Until now i never posted anything. This review, regardles if subjective or not, lacks some facts. No, i am not bought or am i in any kind related to Ihsahn or his Publisher. But a plain 6 for his album? Come on. It was stated before, that Ihsahns love of classic and nordic Rock/Metal would influence his new album. And yeah, some of his Riffs can be compared to Opeth and stuff. But this doesn´t justify a 6. This is not St. Anger.

This is laughable to the point of me not even wanting to respond, but I'll give it a shot

First off... "Regardless if subjective or not"? What does that mean exactly? That you don't care whether or not a review is a subjective expression of opinion or not (hint: it is), you're still going to act as if I'm missing some kind of objective reality of this album being high quality? That just doesn't work. Quality of something is not objective, at least not in the artistic world. If somebody's expressing a part of themselves in a subjective, artistic manner, a part of them and them only, they can expect to get feedback on it that is equally as subjective, opinions that belong to the commentors and to them only.

So what "facts" is this review lacking exactly? When I review an album, I describe it from an objective perspective, that is, the actual features of the music, and then comment subjectively, giving my own opinion on such features. I believe that's what's happening here, I don't think I'm stretching the truth in saying that this album has more of a familiar, conventionalized approach to its songwriting than before, and then I'm simply inserting my own feelings on whether or not I like that. That's what a "review" is. "It was stated before that Ihsahn's love of classic music and nordic rock/metal would influence his new album." What does this have to do with anything? You're acting as if this is something that is supposed to be common knowledge about this album, which is just downright silly. I'm not sure if that was announced as news before the album came out or not, but if it was, here's a hint: not all news goes heard by everybody.

And as for "this doesn't justify a 6, this isn't Saint Anger"... a 6 according to our rating system translates to "average." That's what I see this album as, no more, no less. I didn't say it was shit, and there were even points in this review where I praised certain songs on it that I actually did enjoy. So quit acting like this review was outright bashing when it wasn't and focusing solely on the more negative parts of it just because they weren't what you'd prefer to see someone saying about it.
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23.05.2016 - 00:52
RichardPickman

Written by Apothecary on 23.05.2016 at 00:14

Written by RichardPickman on 23.05.2016 at 00:03

Seriously.... I am watching Metalstorm since a lot of years, reading the reviews and news. I stumbled onto this page maybe 10 years ago. Until now i never posted anything. This review, regardles if subjective or not, lacks some facts. No, i am not bought or am i in any kind related to Ihsahn or his Publisher. But a plain 6 for his album? Come on. It was stated before, that Ihsahns love of classic and nordic Rock/Metal would influence his new album. And yeah, some of his Riffs can be compared to Opeth and stuff. But this doesn´t justify a 6. This is not St. Anger.

This is laughable to the point of me not even wanting to respond, but I'll give it a shot

First off... "Regardless if subjective or not"? What does that mean exactly? That you don't care whether or not a review is a subjective expression of opinion or not (hint: it is), you're still going to act as if I'm missing some kind of objective reality of this album being high quality? That just doesn't work. Quality of something is not objective, at least not in the artistic world. If somebody's expressing a part of themselves in a subjective, artistic manner, a part of them and them only, they can expect to get feedback on it that is equally as subjective, opinions that belong to the commentors and to them only.

So what "facts" is this review lacking exactly? When I review an album, I describe it from an objective perspective, that is, the actual features of the music, and then comment subjectively, giving my own opinion on such features. I believe that's what's happening here, I don't think I'm stretching the truth in saying that this album has more of a familiar, conventionalized approach to its songwriting than before, and then I'm simply inserting my own feelings on whether or not I like that. That's what a "review" is. "It was stated before that Ihsahn's love of classic music and nordic rock/metal would influence his new album." What does this have to do with anything? You're acting as if this is something that is supposed to be common knowledge about this album, which is just downright silly. I'm not sure if that was announced as news before the album came out or not, but if it was, here's a hint: not all news goes heard by everybody.

And as for "this doesn't justify a 6, this isn't Saint Anger"... a 6 according to our rating system translates to "average." That's what I see this album as, no more, no less. I didn't say it was shit, and there were even points in this review where I praised certain songs on it that I actually did enjoy. So quit acting like this review was outright bashing when it wasn't and focusing solely on the more negative parts of it just because they weren't what you'd prefer to see someone saying about it.


Well, sorry when i offended you in any way. That wasn´t my intention. I just wanted to discuss this matter. First of all, english is not my native language. Just wanted to say, that average is a bit too harsh for this album. Progressive doesnt always mean that you are not allowed to sound like older bands, if you know what i mean. Even in this times, where almost every progressive Band sounds the same? Yeah, Ihsahn tried a more approcheable way on his album. But does this make a mediocre album? Even Opeth got a higher Rating than this on thier latest Album. I understand, that you expected something else after all the albums from Ihsahn, but a 6 is too hard. Seriously, you didnt even involve the technical aspects of this album and downvoted them right away. You just stated its average because it sounds average to you. Seriously, why is Anareta by Horrendous voted higher than this Album by reviewers? Block me if you like, but this is my opinion and this is what the internet is for. If you don´t like opinions on your review, don´t allow opinions at all.
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23.05.2016 - 01:13
Apothecary
PsyCHEdelic
Written by RichardPickman on 23.05.2016 at 00:52

Well, sorry when i offended you in any way. That wasn´t my intention. I just wanted to discuss this matter. First of all, english is not my native language. Just wanted to say, that average is a bit too harsh for this album. Progressive doesnt always mean that you are not allowed to sound like older bands, if you know what i mean. Even in this times, where almost every progressive Band sounds the same? Yeah, Ihsahn tried a more approcheable way on his album. But does this make a mediocre album? Even Opeth got a higher Rating than this on thier latest Album. I understand, that you expected something else after all the albums from Ihsahn, but a 6 is too hard. Seriously, you didnt even involve the technical aspects of this album and downvoted them right away. You just stated its average because it sounds average to you. Seriously, why is Anareta by Horrendous voted higher than this Album by reviewers? Block me if you like, but this is my opinion and this is what the internet is for. If you don´t like opinions on your review, don´t allow opinions at all.

The sharing of opinions is a two way street. If you have a right to put yours out there, then someone else has a right to respond to them in whatever way they choose. I never said or implied that I didn't want opinions on my review. But if they're opinions I don't agree with or that I find to be unfounded, I'll respond accordingly with my own, as I am now

Again you're speaking from your point of view here and elevating it as if it's some kind of fact. Sure, a more approachable sound from Ihsahn doesn't mean an "average" album... to you. Sure, a 6 may have been too harsh for this review... to you. Clearly we see things differently here, and that's fine, but please don't act as if me expressing my own interpretation of this album here and backing such an interpretation up with (I think) valid points about the album's songwriting structure is failing to take some kind of unarguable fact into consideration, or that by doing so I'm going against some sort of unquestionable reality. I'm not sure this is how you mean to come off, but it is the impression your argument is giving

And yes I believe this album is average because it sounds average to me. Why else would I think that? A review is, boiling down to it, your own opinion. If I was arguing that this album sounds average because somebody else thinks so, or if it were some sort of undeniable fact, well.... it wouldn't really be a review, now would it?
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23.05.2016 - 07:26
Mr. Doctor
Skandino
Quote:
You just stated its average because it sounds average to you.

HAHAHAHAHAHHAAHAH man this shit never gets old. Reviews are opinions by default. Elaborated opinions where the reviewer discuss pros and cons and then invites the listeners to hear and form their own opinions... That's all there is to it in my book. A review is an opinion. I'll borrow your own sentence and say "If you don't like less than good reviews about albums you like, don't read them at all."
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Written by BloodTears on 19.08.2011 at 18:29
Like you could kiss my ass
Written by Milena on 20.06.2012 at 10:49
Rod, let me love you.
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23.05.2016 - 07:57
Daniell
_爱情_
It never fails to amaze me how much time and energy people are willing to spend to argue about a review.
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23.05.2016 - 14:23
Apothecary
PsyCHEdelic
Written by Daniell on 23.05.2016 at 07:57

It never fails to amaze me how much time and energy people are willing to spend to argue about a review.

A simple "hey I disagree, but good review/it's whatever" would suffice, like some guy actually did a few comments above. Clearly not everyone can end things at that point though
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23.05.2016 - 14:32
Mr. Doctor
Skandino
Written by Apothecary on 23.05.2016 at 14:23
Clearly not everyone can end things at that point though


It's because you are WRONG, dude. You need to find the error of your ways and become a better person... The fact that "better person" is having exactly the same opinion as the dude criticizing you is pure coincidence though!

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Written by BloodTears on 19.08.2011 at 18:29
Like you could kiss my ass
Written by Milena on 20.06.2012 at 10:49
Rod, let me love you.
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23.05.2016 - 14:39
Apothecary
PsyCHEdelic
Written by Mr. Doctor on 23.05.2016 at 14:32

It's because you are WRONG, dude. You need to find the error of your ways and become a better person... The fact that "better person" is having exactly the same opinion as the dude criticizing you is pure coincidence though!

I still don't think I've quite decided whether or not the accuracy of that picture is more hilarious or scary
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23.05.2016 - 16:43
Karlabos
Meat and Potatos
This has become quite the popcorn thread
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23.05.2016 - 16:45
Apothecary
PsyCHEdelic
Written by Karlabos on 23.05.2016 at 16:43

This has become quite the popcorn thread

It might've been destined to from the get go, really
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23.05.2016 - 17:09
LuciferOfGayness
Account deleted
Written by Apothecary on 23.05.2016 at 16:45

Written by Karlabos on 23.05.2016 at 16:43

This has become quite the popcorn thread

It might've been destined to from the get go, really

I much prefer if you find and review a bit more interesting stuff than picking on this. But I do understand that you prefer getting 50 comments instead of 3. And btw average is way too much for this album.
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23.05.2016 - 17:29
Apothecary
PsyCHEdelic
Written by Guest on 23.05.2016 at 17:09

I much prefer if you find and review a bit more interesting stuff than picking on this. But I do understand that you prefer getting 50 comments instead of 3. And btw average is way too much for this album.

Are you implying that I reviewed this album because I wanted to set off a shitstorm of comments and bring more attention to the review? Dude, I'm nowhere near that desperate for attention. I got this album close to 2 months ago for promo review before it was even out, I'm just keeping up my end of the deal here
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24.05.2016 - 14:18
Lethrokai

It's funny. Only since I started writing reviews did I come to realise just how unfamiliar people are with the concept of perspectivism.
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24.05.2016 - 14:32
Karlabos
Meat and Potatos
Written by Lethrokai on 24.05.2016 at 14:18

It's funny. Only since I started writing reviews did I come to realise just how unfamiliar people are with the concept of perspectivism.

They all are probably far more tolerant outside the internet
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Rose is red, violet is blue. Flag is win, Baba is you.
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26.05.2016 - 01:29
DJ Cosimoto

It comes down to personal preference... And I am really enjoying ihsahns more accessible self. I understand it might be disappointing for some but I have been waiting for something like this for a while.... More accesible but still creative and innovative...
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26.05.2016 - 01:46
Marcel Hubregtse
Grumpy Old Fuck
How has Ihsahn solo been innovative?
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Member of the true crusade against European Flower Metal

Yesterday is dead and gone, tomorrow is out of sight
Dawn Crosby (r.i.p.)
05.04.1963 - 15.12.1996

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26.05.2016 - 02:52
Apothecary
PsyCHEdelic
Written by Marcel Hubregtse on 26.05.2016 at 01:46

How has Ihsahn solo been innovative?

I'm talking about in relation to what he's done previously, I mean it's not as if he went solo and just kept playing the exact same type of shit he had been playing beforehand, unlike someone I could mention. But even in general I think Ihsahn has developed a pretty unique sound over his solo career, at least on certain albums. What else really sounds like After, or Das Seelenbrechen especially? Maybe I'm just saying that because I don't listen to that much prog to begin with, but I'd like to say it's still a pretty distinct sound
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02.06.2016 - 17:04
Enteroctopus

Written by Marcel Hubregtse on 26.05.2016 at 01:46

How has Ihsahn solo been innovative?

The incorporation of saxophones/brass in "black metal?" (if you choose to class it that way, otherwise Progressive Metal might do...)

I quite like his solo work. As far as innovative, the arrangements are reminiscent of orchestral cinematic pieces, namely, "The Good, The Bad and the Ugly," comes to mind. I also think of Danny Elfmann, works like, "Edward Scissorhands," for example, are dark, dynamic arrangements with some major key, brighter counterpoints as well.

If you call it black metal, or include it in the "black metal solar system" of music it is fairly innovative, bringing that 2nd half of 20th Century type arrangement to the genre. Innovative in general? Like most original music ever? No, I've heard this type of stuff before, but it's been in horror films, or classic cinema, things of that nature.
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02.07.2016 - 03:08
titmo71

Your out of your tits with this review.
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02.07.2016 - 15:40
Apothecary
PsyCHEdelic
Written by titmo71 on 02.07.2016 at 03:08

Your out of your tits with this review.

Thanks for bringing this to my attention, as my mental health is always a grave issue of concern for me. Would you recommend any medication in particular?
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