Home > News & Reviews > Ihsahn

Ihsahn - mr (Album Review)

Monday, 14 May 2018 Written by Alec Chillingworth

Ihsahn is a genius.

It’s a big, divisive word, but he’s proven it time and time again. From his contribution to, and eventual commandeering of, Norwegian black metal’s most important band, Emperor, right through his six solo albums since 2006, he’s found ways to innovate with every string, every key of each instrument he has picked up.

The bar he’s set is high, because with 2016’s ‘Arktis.’ he made everything better. Its direct choruses lent the accompanying riffs a sharper quality, while its more traditional structures gave the record an extra sense of urgency. But ‘Àmr’ clambers over it, settling at an even higher rung on the songwriting ladder.

This album is truly accessible. Yes, it sounds like black metal. It’s harsh. But even when opening with the discordant, blastbeat-heavy Lend Me The Eyes Of The Millennia, Ihsahn is still pulling from John Carpenter and the sort of synth-wave stuff that’s reared its head again thanks to Stranger Things.

Then, of course, it leaps into orchestration seamlessly. These are thick, weighty movements that could soundtrack a Peter Jackson film. Coupled with Ihsahn’s enunciated, chilling screams, it’s the most he ever throws back to his former band on ‘Àmr’.

As for the rest of the album…these are pop songs, aren’t they? Theatrical, evil pop songs with clean choruses that just happen to be performed by a black metal artist. Ihsahn has always known his way around a hook, but it’s the sheer weight of them that impresses here. Every single song is packing a riff (Marble Soul), a solo (Arcana Imperii), or a line that leaves spectators hanging on every syllable, every note.

‘Àmr’ also allows us to revel in the little things; to enjoy ourselves. There is a build on One Less Enemy where the keyboards ham it up Treehouse of Horror style before Ihsahn reaches the line: “A refugee of reason, in a world of disbelief.” It’s so cool. It’s so ridiculously bouncy that it doesn’t matter that it’s screamed – it’s still more of an earworm than 99% of songs shat out via nu metal.

And the chorus of Sámr, displacing those dirty, pulsating keys: “Waiting for the emptiness to cultivate the night.” It’s bleak, morose, but just fucking beautiful. It’s almost like an amped-up, blockbuster take on the works of his former backing band, Leprous.

But then you come to Twin Black Angels. This is Abba. The chorus is Abba. But it’s better than whatever Abba are coming out with later this year. It just is. Even the screamed bridge, squirming in near the end, doesn’t detract from the emotion, the craft, the genuine radio-friendliness of this song. It’s not going to be a hit. But it should be, because it’s the catchiest thing Ihsahn’s ever penned as a solo artist.

There’s genuinely no weak spot on ‘Àmr’. Every guitar solo is packed with purpose and drama. Every analogue synth brings extra warmth. Every single second of this album is essential. Emperor fans will love the underlying brutality, the grandiosity. Ihsahn fans will love the prog feel, the avant-garde evil that’s still tucked away. Everyone else should love it for what it is: a perfect rock album.  

Let Us Know What You Think - Leave A Comment!

Related News

Ihsahn - Arktis. (Album Review)
Wed 13 Apr 2016
BANG. Satan’s Harley-Davidson backfires. Lord Sauron burps after a feast of Hobbits and Elves. A new Ihsahn album rises from the frozen lakes of Mars.
Ihsahn - Das Seelenbrechen (Album Review)
Mon 21 Oct 2013
With Emperor’s pant-wettingly anticipated return coming next year, you could be forgiven for giving Ihsahn's latest solo outing a miss. Forgiven for being an absolute fool. Not constrained by the brutal black metal trappings of the band that brought him to the attention of make-up clad misfits worldwide, Ihsahn continues to do things his own way.
Behemoth - I Loved You At Your Darkest (Album Review)
Thu 11 Oct 2018
The standards Behemoth set for themselves on ‘I Loved You At Your Darkest’ were epochal. So, on first listen, you’d be forgiven for thinking they’ve lost their way.
Monster Magnet Confirm January London Electric Brixton Show
Fri 05 Oct 2018
Monster Magnet have lined up a return to London in the new year.
Still Evil After All These Years: Bidding Farewell With 10 Of The Best From Thrash Idols Slayer
Wed 07 Nov 2018
Photo: Gene Ambo When it was announced back in January that Slayer would pack it in after one final world tour, metalheads across the globe lost the plot for a little while as anticipation swelled ahead of a historic send off. The most evil band of all time are currently packing out arenas in the UK and Ireland, providing a thrash metal experience like no other group can thanks to their ferocious reputation, a stack of crushing guitar riffs, breakneck tempo changes and Tom Araya’s grizzled vocals.
Babymetal Announce Departure Of Yuimetal And Release Surprise New Single Starlight
Fri 19 Oct 2018
Babymetal have confirmed the departure of Yuimetal.
Darkest Hour And Unearth Line Up Co-Headline UK And European Tour
Fri 09 Nov 2018
Darkest Hour and Unearth will tour Europe together under the Death To False Metalcore tour in spring.
< Prev   Next >