Reviews Ihsahn Das Seelenbrechen

Ihsahn

Das Seelenbrechen

Ihsahn is one of the most immediately recognisable artists that Norway has produced and his work in legends Emperor and now as a solo act has seen him move from the early stages of black metal to a much more progressive sound. Ihsahn’s solo efforts have always been extremely interesting and with Das Seelenbrechen he has created a textured landscape of sound that swings from symphonic euphoria, to avant-garde improvisation to a ballad and the record covers a lot of unusual ground. Evidently, Ishahn wanted to step away from the sounds that were heard on the wonderful Emerita and this time around we get a lot in terms of progressive attitude and experimentation. Opener “Hiber” is a throbbing work and Tobias Ørnes Andersen of Leprous (Leprous are also Ihsahn's live band) adds a flair to the drums that both baffles and engages – his beats never seeming too obvious and changing tempo often and adding to the curious movements of the music itself. 

Ihsahn’s vocal is still as ravaged as ever and his voice is something that immediately connects and this time around we hear a different approach, one which takes in gentle clean portions and this softer sound first makes an appearance on “Regen.” The track begins with calm movements of keyboard and simple structures before bursting into life and becoming something akin to what Emperor may have sounded like if they had continued. Slow, steady beats drive the song towards to a symphonic bombast and choral vocal lines that hark back to Ihsahn’s roots but updates it for the contemporary audience. It’s an early highlight and one that then marks a distinct departure from what we usually hear from this musician. 

There’s a lot of experimentation in this record, new ways of creating sounds and atmospheres and after the gorgeous and deeply moving ballad-esque “Pulse” (possibly one of the best songs Ihsahn has ever produced due to its complete openness and honesty), Das Seelenbrechen moves into extremely peculiar territory. “Tacit 2” is a bizarre and difficult composition that deals in odd drum lines and it leads into its counterpart “Tacit” with a steady thrum of confidence in its own oddity. “Tacit” brings a more common structure to the fore and the use of huge sections of brass lifts the song into new realms of rapture and gives the album a defiant sense of the unusual. 

Das Seelenbrechen is a genuinely “other” record. It doesn’t fit neatly into any kind of category and runs the gamut of sounds between black metal, avant-garde, prog and electronic beats. It’s a record that challenges and provokes and the expansive sounds are legion. The album shows that Ihsahn is a very forward-thinking musician, and one that ultimately, has so much more to give.

8.5 / 10Cheryl
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8.5 / 10

8.5 / 10

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