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Friday
Jan222010

Review: Ihsahn- After (2010)

 

So I have been  waiting on Candlelight to drop this record for a minute, and trying to not get too excited. For those of you who don't know, Ihsahn is (debatably) the brains behind Black Metal torche carriers Emperor.  Since Emperor's (apparently final) disbandment, Ihsahn has been working on solo records, as well as playing music with his wife under the name Peccatum, as well as writing a column for Guitar World magazine. Ihsahn's influence by his proggy- sounding Guitar World fellow contributors was hinted at on the last Emperor record Prometheus, and has since been flaunted on his two previous solo records.  Since I am not a fan of guitar wankery (insert picture of Steve Vai with a fan blowing his hair), I was hesitant to even listen to this new record. I also feared massive doses of Ihsahn's singing (which often sounds a lot like Alice in Chains). Most importantly, when a metal guitarist writes songs for a solo project, a lot of times the "Hey dude this riff sounds like shit" talk somehow manages to not happen.

 

 

 

I need to start off by saying that the proggy explorations I feared are all over this record. Yet somehow, Ihsahn manages to package them in a way that I headbang through them and even hold up the preverbrial "horns" during some of them. He also sandwiches them with some balls to the wall grindcore dominated cuts (check out " A Grave Inversed") that remind me a lot of an old Converge. My only complaint is that there are a few times when Ihsahns riffs go into nu-metal land ( see "Frozen Lakes on Mars"). There are a few chantlike singing vocals (a la Opeth), but the record is doiminated by a majority of Emperor-esq Black Metal screeches and guttural blasts. All of Ihsahn's sound is complemented by some serious saxaphone ripping by Jorgen Munkeby.

 

In short, this record was everything I feared.

And I love it. Let this be a lesson to the pretentious music genre snob inside me to have the open mind I claim to.

This record is not an Emperor record, but it is a fun record to listen to from start to finish, and I forsee it staying in rotation around my house for a long time to come. The highlight that I have been jamming on repeat is "Undercurrent", a 10 minute juggernaut that showcases everything there is to love about this record.

 

After is available from Candelight Records here. While you are there, check out our homies from Chicago The Atlas Moth, who are new additions to the Candlelight roster

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