Ihsahn - After review
|Release date:||January 2010|
01. The Barren Lands
02. A Grave Inversed
04. Frozen Lakes On Mars
07. Heaven's Black Sea
08. On The Shores
Disc II [Limited Edition DVD - Live At The Rockefeller Festival In Oslo]
03. Called By The Fire
08. Thus Spake The Nightspirit [Emperor cover]
+ Studio Reports
After marks the third solo release of the former Emperor front man. I think, as the saying goes, "the third time's the charm" is fitting here. Ihsahn's prior two solo efforts were cerebral affairs that at times seemed perhaps too heady and just didn't click. This one seems to have fallen into place quite nicely.
The musical approach varies from track to track. In some, such as "A Grave Inversed" and bits and pieces elsewhere, as in sections of "Undercurrent," you can clearly hear the similarities with Emperor (the later years), whereas others are of a less frantic and frenetic pace and show off a proggy approach. The title track, "After" is damn near a ballad… though, fortunately, not in the cheesy hair-metal sense.
Vocally, Ihzzy's approach varies as well, depending on the music. His familiar screeching is present on the faster, harsher tracks and passages, though he shifts to a flat-out pleasant "clean" voice where warranted - namely the slower sections. Frankly, both approaches work and fit within the framework of the music.
"Frozen Lakes On Mars," my favorite track on the album, is a good showcase for the varying approaches. The build up and verse riffs are quite Emperor-esque, aggressive complex riffs with screeched vocals, giving way to a slower, catchy, clean-voiced chorus.
The production is great, each component is audible, clear, and with adequate "space" … it is almost sterile, in a way. Not the bad, bland, overdone sterile that some black metal bands have adopted - but rather coldly clinical, cerebral. This approach is fitting, given the nature of the artist.
The use of an eight string guitar gives the music additional depth. And, as is oft mentioned, there is also a saxophone present on many tracks. Zomg! A saxophone! How unique. How outside the box! How progressive of him!
I kid, I kid. Despite being possibly the most mentioned/talked about part of the album from what I've read elsewhere, it does bring a great element to the music that is (almost) worthy of the hype. For the most part, it fits in quite nicely, whether adding texture over some of the more mid-paced, open riffs, such as in the midsection of "Undercurrent" and "Heaven's Black Sea" or chaotically blowing away in place of a guitar lead over ripping riffs as in "A Grave Inversed". The sax does seem clumsy and awkward, however, when chugging along trying to match along with the intense Emperor style riffing in "A Grave Inversed." Overall it's a welcome addition, though, lending additional atmosphere and peculiarity to the tracks which feature the instrument.
Sure, some of the songs take a while to develop and seem to lag a bit, particularly "After", which at times makes me want to hit the 'next' button to see what is, well, after… but these are minor quibbles. All in all this is a fairly mammoth album with lots of different facets to keep the listener enthralled.
||Written on 25.02.2010 by BitterCOld has been officially reviewing albums for MetalStorm since 2009.|
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