Ihsahn – Arktis

Ihsahn
Arktis
Symphonic Black Metal, Progressive Metal
Released: 8 April 2016
via Candlelight Records

I’ll admit this wouldn’t usually be my cup of tea. However I do love listening Emperor and since Ihsahn embarked on his solo journey in 2006,  I have been inclined to listen to his music in the same way. I wouldn’t call myself a fan per say, but I do listen to his music every once in awhile and I like what I hear. So when his new album Arktis fell in my lap, I was curious to hear the next chapter in his evolution. Ihsahn should need no introduction to the metal community, he is a pure force to be reckoned with.  His writing is slick, matching heavy tones with brutal melodies like it was child’s play and believe me there is no difference with this record.

Arktis, sounds really nice straight from the get go. Ihsahn wastes no time in with the opening songs Disassembled and Mass Darkness, it just has that overpowering grandeur, that we have come to expect from his music. The heavy verses bleed into the melodic choruses and the production is on top form nothing feels out of place.  The music surrounds you and you can really get lost in the sounds. Ihsahn’s vocals have a heavy impact and the guttural vocals scream with power whilst the clean vocals are a little unsettling, in a good way. I think Ihsahn want to make you feel unsettled in parts of this album, like on the track South Winds, mixing the heavy metal with that mind-melting progressive stylings. Everything about this album speaks to his talent for writing and producing great work. When I was listening to the album, I got the same feeling of listening to Emperor’s Prometheus: The Discipline of Fire & Demise, I’m not saying it sounds anything like that album but I get the feeling that I’m listening to something that will stick with me for a long time, which that album did (and still does).

The melodies a beautifully crafted and entrancing.  Designed to keep you hooked to the album, with great riff work too.  My favourite riff on the album being Until I Dissolve Too, purely for it’s catchy sound and distance from the rest of the song, so it sticks out more. The more progressive moment on this album somewhat lose me as it’s a little too jarring to my ear, however, for someone who is used to progressive metal will probably love the way the sound twists and turns around in the production.  The guitar work is superb it always sounds good when it comes in. The keys and synth are a little too overused for my liking and sometimes they don’t really fit the music at times like on Pressure, again maybe that’s just me but it’s quite distracting.  However when the keyboard parts work, they really work.

Is this a great album.  For me it’s good and certainly will be on my playlist for the majority of 2016. For the average music fan who may not be really into this sort of music I really couldn’t recommend it.  I would say start with Ihsahn’s earlier work then work their way to this or just stay away from this type of music in general.  It was definitely something different and I’m glad that I have returned to his work after a bit of a break.  If you’re a fan or someone that may like this type of sound then I would say check it out.

3/5

Mick Birchall

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