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Ihsahn: "Arktis" Album Review By Jamie Lee!

Ihsahn: "Arktis" Album Review By Jamie Lee!
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Ihsahn: "Arktis" Album Review By Jamie Lee!

If keytar ever finds a true home in metal, it will surely be at the hands of Ihsahn. Should it? That’s to be determined, but the Emperor frontman has no problem infusing his solo work with an intense and unexpected spectrum of instrumentation and influences.

Ihsahn’s experimentation isn’t some deep, dark secret hatched beneath the cold Norwegian moon that is just now coming to the surface. This has been his modus operandi over the course of his career, although more prominently on his solo releases, and it is fully realized on the 10 tracks that make up Arktis.

Black metal makes up the formidable exoskeleton of Arktis, but like the fence that surrounds Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory, it gives little indication of the thrills that are housed inside. Once this stylistic barrier is penetrated, the guitarist and songwriter toys with Pink Floydian texture (“Disassembled”), pop pageantry (“My Heart is of the North”) and NWOBHM fire (“Until I Too Dissolve”). He also peppers the album with guest appearances from a host of friendlies including Einar Solberg (Leprous), Matt Heafy (Trivium), Jorgen Munkeby (Shining), and Tobias Ornes Andersen (Shining, ex-Leprous). Although the album roars to life and maintains an invigorating pace and focus throughout, the deluxe edition closes with the odd bonus track “Til Tor Ulven (Soppelsolen).” While the ominous tone of the spoken word matched with minimalist instrumentation adds to the icy context of Arktis, it ends it with an anti-climactic chill that is more akin to a last gasp than a stout farewell.

Ihsahn has long been viewed as one of the most forward-thinking musicians in modern metal, and Arktis is proof-positive that his sonic vision and compositional dexterity are only growing stronger.

Arktis is out now on Candlelight Records. Buy it here!

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Ihsahn - Arktis

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