IHSAHN – After (2010)

Ihsahn was destined to have a solo career – anyone who heard Emperor’s final album, Prometheus: The Discipline of Fire and Demise, knows this. That album was entirely composed by (and produced by) Ihsahn, and from it, you got a clear picture as to what direction any future music he might compose would be moving towards. And though it took him five years (during which time he worked with his wife Ihriel in both Peccatum and Star of Ash), we were finally treated to a proper Ihsahn solo album (The Adversary) in 2006. Angl followed in 2008, and now, in 2010, we have After. It’s worth noting that each of these albums has gotten decidedly more progressive in both structure and scope, with After being the most progressive of the bunch. Listening to it is sort of like listening to a weird blend of an uber-thrashy Emperor crossed with Porcupine Tree and Ephel Duath’s The Painter’s Palette (not any of that new crap).

After tends to keep these elements from mixing too much, which is probably for the best (keeping that ratio going for 53 minutes might start to sound gimmicky at some point) .Austere highlights the Steven Wilson side of things beautifully; you’ve got your vocal multitracking, a slower, more intricate midsection of the song, plus some great fretless bass work, to boot. A Grave Inversed takes care of the thrash area of things, making sure to pile on guitar solo after guitar solo, while Ihsahn lets loose his trademark tortured wail for all denizens of the Earth and beyond to hear (the saxophone even gets tossed in the fray near the end, and flails around frantically, trying to stay afloat in the song’s outgoing tide of metal). Album closer On The Shores taps into a vein of some of that long absent Ephel Duath madness: it’s ten minutes of diabolical noise that recedes into a (relative) state of serenity for awhile, before picking up again (albeit less intense this second time around).

Listening to After kind of makes me miss progressive metal. Don’t get me wrong, I know the genre still exists, but to me, it feels like it’s been marginalized to a bunch of insincere side-projects on Inside Out (half of them with Mike Portnoy). After is significant because it’s both progressive and totally not afraid to rip your face off. That’s not something I seem to hear much of anymore. And while I certainly hope that Emperor at some point reconvene and release some more material somewhere down the line (it’s not that unlikely), I’ll be satisfied if Ihsahn can keep creating albums like these.

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One Response to “IHSAHN – After (2010)”

  1. […] Hi-Def Audio new thoughts on new music « IHSAHN – After (2010) […]

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