Ihsahn - After review



Reviewer:
8.0

404 users:
8.39
Band: Ihsahn
Album: After
Release date: January 2010


Disc I
01. The Barren Lands
02. A Grave Inversed
03. After
04. Frozen Lakes On Mars
05. Undercurrent
06. Austere
07. Heaven's Black Sea
08. On The Shores

Disc II [Limited Edition DVD - Live At The Rockefeller Festival In Oslo]
01. Intro
02. Invocation
03. Called By The Fire
04. Scarab
05. Emancipation
06. Unhealer
07. Misanthrope
08. Thus Spake The Nightspirit [Emperor cover]
09. Outro
+ Interview
+ 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.


Rating breakdown
Performance: 9
Songwriting: 9
Originality: 8
Production: 9


 



Written on 25.02.2010 by BitterCOld has been officially reviewing albums for MetalStorm since 2009.


Comments page 2 / 2

Comments: 46   Visited by: 441 users
27.02.2010 - 21:46
Baz Anderson
Written by Slyfang on 27.02.2010 at 21:05

i STOPPED already, so shut up. and no it isn't all subjective

Opinions can only be subjective... what else could they be?
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28.02.2010 - 01:26
BitterCOld
Gringo
Written by Slyfang on 27.02.2010 at 21:05

i STOPPED already, so shut up. and no it isn't all subjective


so shut up? me? you are the one with a handful of useless posts in this review huh? sorry, i posted within 10 minutes of your last ... there was no clear cut "i'm done here" remark on your end, and your discussion is going in on the thread regarding the review i posted. i don't see what's wrong with me retorting.

and please tell me what objective forms of rating music exist. i am eager to hear.
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get the fuck off my lawn.
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28.02.2010 - 06:40
Slyfang
Written by BitterCOld on 28.02.2010 at 01:26

Written by Slyfang on 27.02.2010 at 21:05

i STOPPED already, so shut up. and no it isn't all subjective


so shut up? me? you are the one with a handful of useless posts in this review huh? sorry, i posted within 10 minutes of your last ... there was no clear cut "i'm done here" remark on your end, and your discussion is going in on the thread regarding the review i posted. i don't see what's wrong with me retorting.

and please tell me what objective forms of rating music exist. i am eager to hear.


yes, shut up as in i don't appreciate your condescending sarcasm. i admit i explained myself very badly and wrote carelessly. the "i'm done here" was clear cut enough for the person i was talking to earlier when i admitted my mistake.. there was no need for you to start poking

as for how to judge music objectively, i shouldn't have to explain it to you. objective doesn't mean being based on cold empirical fact, objective means detached, unbiased, it means judging something for what it is, and not looking at something through the distorted lens of preference. objective criticism looks at progression, structure, technical and harmonic achievement, innovation, creativity, lyrical skill and more, all within proper context of course, and within the context of music in general if needed.. it doesn't have to be perfect. in reality most objective judgements have something subjective in them, but you know what i mean

now enough. no need to waste more space here
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28.02.2010 - 07:29
K†ulu
Seeker of Truth
Written by Slyfang on 28.02.2010 at 06:40

...as for how to judge music objectively, i shouldn't have to explain it to you. objective doesn't mean being based on cold empirical fact, objective means detached, unbiased, it means judging something for what it is, and not looking at something through the distorted lens of preference. objective criticism looks at progression, structure, techical and harmonic achievement, innovation, creativity, lyrical skill and more, all within proper context of course, and within the context of music in general if needed.. it doesn't have to be perfect. in reality most objective judgements have something subjective in them, but you know what i mean...


This is great. The explanation is perfect or at least it's a very good try; the only thing that mars it is the fact that you missed 'n' in 'technical'.
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Savor what you feel and what you see
Things that may not seem important now
But may be tomorrow

R.I.P. Chuck Schuldiner

Satan was a Backstreet Boy
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28.02.2010 - 08:35
Doc Godin
Full Grown Hoser
@Slyfang: The moment music is judged "objectively" by physical skill and structured/uber-technical ability is the moment you know music as we know it is dead. Your criteria for judging music with objectivity pretty much contradicts a vast majority of punk rock, and I bet I can find a couple hundred thousand people on this planet who would disagree with you.

You were wrong, admit it and knock off the overly-defencive back pedalling. Sometimes condescending sarcasm is warranted.
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"I got a lot of really good ideas, problem is, most of them suck."
- George Carlin
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01.03.2010 - 00:06
Valaskjalf
TheImperturbable
Im enjoying this album very much...also agree with what Konrad said - the album is pushing metal into new avenues and experimenting and evolving which I think is great. Ihsahn is trying his hand once more at marrying different styles of music into a very coherent whole, with impressive lyrics, and interesting concept and musicianship which as always is supreme. This is what I call interesting metal and what Ive always meant when talking about my preference to bands not stagnating. I love this..
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IF THE MILK IS SOUR...I AINT THE KINDA PUSSY TO DRINK IT
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01.03.2010 - 01:09
Baz Anderson
Written by Slyfang on 28.02.2010 at 06:40

objective means detached, unbiased, it means judging something for what it is, and not looking at something through the distorted lens of preference.

Humans are incapable of doing this. Especially with something as subjective as musical enjoyment.
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01.03.2010 - 04:35
Slyfang
Written by Baz Anderson on 01.03.2010 at 01:09

Written by Slyfang on 28.02.2010 at 06:40

objective means detached, unbiased, it means judging something for what it is, and not looking at something through the distorted lens of preference.

Humans are incapable of doing this. Especially with something as subjective as musical enjoyment.


well i wasn't talking about simply enjoying music, by objective i meant of course fairly judging the music, based on the music itself, not one's own expectations or emotions only, which humans are definitely capable of. for example understand why opera is a great form of music, but i just don't enjoy listening to it. i'm not attacking you, simply explaining what i was talking about
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06.03.2010 - 14:49
K†ulu
Seeker of Truth
Good stuff. A 9 from me. Got into it fairly quickly... need to check his earlier releases...
----
Savor what you feel and what you see
Things that may not seem important now
But may be tomorrow

R.I.P. Chuck Schuldiner

Satan was a Backstreet Boy
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31.05.2010 - 23:54
Daydream Nation
Account deleted
The only album in the top 20 of 2010 at the moment that I truly believe should stay there in the end. Very well done...this may even crack the top 5 for me!

I play the saxophone myself and I thought that incorporation was killer; not too self indulgent or detracting but providing an interesting atmosphere as the original reviewer suggested. Great work, Ihsahn!

Rating (compared to 2010 so far): 10.
Actual Rating compared to all metal: 8.8.
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31.05.2010 - 23:55
Daydream Nation
Account deleted
Oh, and this goes out to Baz and Slyfang and every one else arguing over the stupidest stuff... STFU and enjoy the music.
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01.06.2010 - 00:00
BitterCOld
Gringo
Written by Guest on 31.05.2010 at 23:55

Oh, and this goes out to Baz and Slyfang and every one else arguing over the stupidest stuff... STFU and enjoy the music.


Hey, thanks for responding to an argument that is, what, 90 days gone now? nice work, we really needed that input.
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get the fuck off my lawn.
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01.06.2010 - 03:54
Daydream Nation
Account deleted
Written by BitterCOld on 01.06.2010 at 00:00

Written by Guest on 31.05.2010 at 23:55

Oh, and this goes out to Baz and Slyfang and every one else arguing over the stupidest stuff... STFU and enjoy the music.


Hey, thanks for responding to an argument that is, what, 90 days gone now? nice work, we really needed that input.


Ahahahaha...nice sarcasm. I just find that whole sort of argument to be pretentious and interfering. When I want to look through comments I want to look at different reactions to the music, the good and bad qualities of the review, and other recommendations or similar artists.

Anyway, I quite enjoyed the album and this review actually summed it up pretty nicely. Ihsahn's song-writing is quite amazing and surprisingly coherent; it could have been a disaster, but he honed in his sound and kept it from becoming repetitive to me. I also like, as you addressed, After, which was almost a ballad. The fresh ways of changing his sound and keeping the listener's attention make this one of the most coherent works in 2010 I have come across. I also enjoyed Alcest's newest, although that is in a completely different category. Both managed to make fresh, interesting metal, and I certainly can't wait to see the other works that come to the same level of quality in 2010. Nice review.
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13.12.2010 - 00:26
Darkside Momo
Retired
Written by Konrad on 26.02.2010 at 10:02

I respect the review and think BitterC0ld was fair in giving Ihsahn an 8. I gave the album a 10, because I think it helps the metal genre enter an entirely new area. The sax was also used in the drowned at sea 3 pt. epic from nachtmystium...so it isn't anything new...but as a jazz fan who has always thought the instruments, musicianship, and overall song structure were similar b/t jazz and metal...this album is the beginning of the two genres starting to merge. I respect Ihsahn for what he has done throughout his entire career. He not only produced what is arguably one of the best black metal albums of all time (welkin...) but has now arguably written, recorded, and mastered an album that carries metal into the new decade.

Coming from someone who lives in the city of jazz, what Ihsahn has accomplished here is far from pretentious. He was innovative with his concepts and has invited countless musicians to enter the world of metal. Thank you Ihsahn!

Sorry, but I have to remind you some snippets of jazz/metal lore (among others)
- Pan.Thy.Monium had a sax since the very beginning (1991). Totally not in a jazz way, but still.
- Both Cynic (check Focus) and Atheist (check Unquestionable Presence) used jazz song structures and playing in the early nineties.
While these examples are not the only ones, they do show that the jazz/metal fusion is nothing new. I don't say this to critisize Ihsahn, on the contrary, because he does this in his own, personal way, which is always nice.
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"You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you" - Ray Bradbury

"I've lost too many years now
I'm stealing back my soul
I'm awake now"
Abney Park (Letter Between A Little Boy & Himself As An Adult)
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02.10.2011 - 17:56
Apothecary
PsyCHEdelic
Why does this album have the lowest rating of Ihsahn's albums (I'm talking about overall, not just this review)?
It's the best, imo
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Written by RaduP on 14.01.2016 at 02:08

So you're not actually a bearded shaman opening his third eye through music?
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02.10.2011 - 20:24
Troy Killjoy
perfunctionist
Written by Apothecary on 02.10.2011 at 17:56
imo

Because all votes are based on opinion. And majority rules.
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Prettier than BloodTears.
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