IHSAHN - EREMITA (10)
Ihsahn is back to showcase more musical delights in the form of his new record ‘Eremita’, and he has brought some friends along for the ride (including musical deviant Devin Townsend and ex-Nevermore axeman Jeff Loomis). It seems up until now Ihsahn has consistently redefined his style and, if it is anything like his previous work, ‘Eremita’ will be exceptional.
Album opener ‘Arrival’ kicks things off in incredible style with an absolute cacophony of sound. Sweeping guitar work and Hammond style sound flows steadily, punctuated by precise drumming. The vocal harmonies within this track are flawless; the harsher growls make way for some beautifully soaring vocals. The pace quickens with ‘The Paranoid’, displaying a sound more similar to that of the previous Ihsahn releases. The technicality in the guitar work is astounding but not pretentiously so. Lyrically, Ihsahn has always been top of the class in terms of creating beautiful imagery that just fits perfectly with the music itself, and this song displays that perfectly with a chorus that glides along with the rhythm. The instantly recognisable vocals of Devin Townsend make an appearance in ‘Introspection’ and that beautiful contrast we had fallen in love with during Devin’s ‘Deconstruction’ track ‘Juular’ has returned once more. The song builds, with atmosphere gathering with every verse, with fantastic drumwork underpinning it at every beat.
I think “funky” is the best way to describe the initial moments of ‘The Eagle And The Snake’, and I never thought I would be able to use that term in regards to Ihsahn’s music. Jorgen Munkeby from Shining (Norway) makes his triumphant return to add a new level of madness to Ihsahn’s music. No one has ever ultilised a saxophonist in progressive black metal so heavily or successfully before, but a benchmark has been created and the instrument’s influence within this album is obvious to all. It adds such a creative element and makes this record truly stand alone in modern times, an effect that Munkeby’s work had on Ihsahn’s previous release ‘After’. Sharp riffs thunder through, juxtaposing the smooth saxophone beautifully. ‘Catharsis’ is a slower track, with beautiful pace and tone, which features more clean vocals from Ihsahn and showcases the skill that he can produce time and time again.
There is something a little bit too familiar about ‘Something Out There’, but once the track develops I lose any issue with this fact. The bass work on this track is a structured backbone that keeps everything simply rock solid. Instrumental ‘Grief’ builds an incredible atmosphere, making way for the crushing ‘The Grave’, where once again that saxophone adds an incredible effect. The final seconds of this track are intense and a musical journey in itself. The responsibility of closing such a brilliant album is left up to ‘Departure’, a track that meanders between styles and pace so regularly you may get a little bewildered, but the flow never falters. The sections of the song that sound more grinding and quick are quite different from the guitar work in all of the previous tracks - it is total experimentation and it works brilliantly. Ihsahn’s more gravelly vocals carry each lyric with such power and this is mirrored by the delicate female vocals, which add a lighter touch to quite a strong song. I think this is a stand-alone track just for how diverse it is.
‘Eremita’ is dynamic, and upon listening to it you can feel that it is structured, complex and complete. It truly is a beautiful record. Ihsahn continues to move onwards and upwards in terms of creativity and execution. I for one look forward to what is going to come next.
Reviewed by Siobhan Hogarty
Eremita is out June 18th on Candlelight
You’ll like this if… you want to hear saxophone filled metal madness with some mind-blowing guitar work and atmospheric black metal elements. Tasty.