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On disc: Ihsahn

After - Carsten Bahr - 9 stars


(Candelight Records - 2010)

Emporer fronter Ihsahn presents the last part of the trilogy he released as a solo artist. The album is called After. Like at the predecessor angL he hooked up with the Spiral Architect members Asgeir Mickelson (drums) and Lars K. Norberg. He added Shining saxophonist Jorgen Munkeby to his cast, coz he really wanted to include this instrument into his sonic world and so you hear a lot saxophone parts on After. With his solo albums The Adversary and angL Ihsahn got away from the progressive black metal sounds of Emperor. As a reminiscence to his black metal past the 8 tracks have a dark atmosphere, his mean vocals and clashing guitar riffs which dominate the opener The Barren Land. Even with the complex rhythmic structures this bulky tune has some catchiness. For A Grave Inversed they speed up and blast beats force them ahead. Here he combines his black metal past with death metal - and the saxophone joins in and shows that it even fits into this extreme music. The title track After is a calm, emotional tune which reminds me a bit of Opeth and Katatonia. Ihsahn shows at some other songs that he can't just add mean vocals and that he has a soft, almost fragile voice. At Frozen Lake On Mars he shows his vocal range from scolding vocals to heroic clean parts and emotional passages. Musically it's a quite progressive and monolithic track. An epic long track is Undercurrent with about 10 minutes length and here the saxophone is back and partly takes over the leading. So this track has some jazzy elements. Austere is a melancholy ballad which towards the end kinda explodes. Sharp guitar riffs storm off. Heavens Black Sea is a bit Maiden-ish at the beginning when it comes to the lead guitar, but you can also hear the black metal roots. Another 10 min. long track closes this chapter and On The Shores challenges the listener one more time! Ihsahn wove in so many details that it needs several spins to discover them. When you listen to it for the first time it seems too be too much... Flamboyant. After is the most progressive piece of work Ihsahn has delivered, closer to madness then before it offers some strange soundscapes. The album needs several spins to discover before you can truly enjoy it. The songs are very complex and so bulky that it ain't easy to understand his art. Everybody who is into extreme, dark progressive metal should check it out!

9 stars

Carsten Bahr
(translation: Claudia Ehrhardt)


           2008-2010 by Claudia Ehrhardt • E-Mail:

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