Ihsahn - Àmr review


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Band: Ihsahn
Album: Àmr
Release date: May 2018

01. Lend Me The Eyes Of Millennia
02. Arcana Imperii
03. Sámr
04. One Less Enemy
05. Where You Are Lost And I Belong
06. In Rites Of Passage
07. Marble Soul
08. Twin Black Angels
09. Wake
10. Alone [limited edition bonus]

Ihsahn, the turtleneck-wearing manbun-sporting god of progressive black metal, is no stranger to alienating his fanbases. Whether alienating fans of Emperor by abandoning most of his black metal sound on later Emperor releases and his solo career or fans of his avantgarde phase by releasing the much more conventional Arktis. Now comes Ámr to build upon its predecessor.

One quick thing to notice about Ámr when comparing it to Arktis is that there's a lot less musicians accompanying Ihsahn. Whereas Arktis had additional vocals and saxophone and keyboards, this record only has a guitar feature from Fredrik Åkesson of Opeth, other than that it's just Ihsahn and Tobias Ørnes Andersen on drums. This does alter the sound pallet a bit, leaving all the dynamism to be performed by one person.

While being in a way similar to its predecessor in the lack of avantgarde experimentation and being more song focused, it is again a shift in direction, particularly on guitars and keyboards. As soon as the opening track hits, a bigger emphasis on electronic sounds is felt, with the synths being the first thing we hear. "Lend Me The Eyes Of Millenia" does reminisce black metal a lot in the vocal performance, blast beats and structure, but the synth line closer to the front that the tremolo picking. And these types of sounds, whether more cinematic or more mellow are too be found all around, some good (all over "In The Rites Of Passage"), some not so good (the nintendocore keys around the one and a half minute into "Arcana Imperii").

Besides the electronic or cinematic sounds, the guitars also have a whole new sound to them as 8 sting guitars make their appearance in the chuggy riffs of "Arcana Imperii" or "One Less Enemy". Besides the chug, there's a lot of black metal influence to be felt in riffage in certain section, mostly in the opening and the closing track. And as mentioned, Ihsahn's voice is the only one we hear on this record, so a lot of the songwriting is built on the interplay between the harsh shrieks and his cleans. The latter are especially well-developed on this album, especially on the beautiful "Sámr" and on "Wake", despite being slightly less used that the shrieks in most songs. Ihsahn even goes as pop rock as we ever went on "Twin Black Angels", which is another one of the reasons why this album might polarize Ihsahn fans.

Another shift in the sound pallet later, Ihsahn is still exploring new sounds which may or may not sit well with his listeners. Àmr will either leave you longing for past explorations or enjoying new ones.


Written on 06.05.2018 by My opinion is objective, sorry if you don't agree, but you're wrong.


Comments: 4   Visited by: 189 users
07.05.2018 - 03:22
Ace Frawley
The Spaceman
Thanks for the review, looking forward to getting this album.
The sun shines over The Fool...
07.05.2018 - 07:54
Lord Slothrop

I'm enjoying Amr for the most part, but yeah... 'Twin Black Angels' is unpalatable to me.
08.05.2018 - 17:38
I love Ihsahn but Arktis was honestly my least favorite of his because it sounded so much more like a conventional prog metal album than a genuine Ihsahn one, so I hope this is a little more atypical for the style and more catered to my tastes. Your mention of an increased electro-synth type presence is definitely mouth watering.
Check out Apothecary's Favorite Bands Playlist, brotendo. One track per band.
18.11.2018 - 13:45
The Galactician

This is an excellent and very thorough review. Nicely done.

I love this record, and am in the camp that finds the new direction to be super compelling. I've been a casual fan for decades now and this release pushed me into the next tier.

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