Ihsahn has established himself as the cutting edge of extreme metal creativity for more than three decades, and this seasoned maverick shows no sign of slowing down with his self-titled double album “Ihsahn.” Featuring one album with his renowned black metal finesse, and a complimentary album built upon horror-cinema inspired orchestrals, “Ihsahn” is a magnanimous endeavor set to take 2024 by storm. Not only does it showcase the evolution and innovation that Ihsahn is still capable of, it also ambitiously collects the talents that were once nurtured in Emperor‘s early days and subsequently bloomed across Ihsahn‘s solo career.
Fans have spent more than five years waiting for this release: Ihsahn‘s last full-length studio album, “Amr,” was released in 2018. There have been three EPs since – the contrasting set of EPs, “Telemark” and “Pharos,” as well as the instructional “Fascination Street Sessions” – but nothing quite as expansive as what awaits listeners in “Ihsahn.” This delightful treat has already shown itself to be well-worth the wait. There are rich stories waiting in its depths, and there are two full albums worth of content to both explore and enjoy. For those familiar with Ihsahn‘s work, the metal album will have familiar themes and musical signatures that have made him a household name in the extreme metal scene since the 90’s. And for newcomers and longtime fans alike, the orchestral side promises an adventure through sonic heights like never before. These elements are enhanced by the other talents that contributed to the making of “Ihsahn,” including Jens Bogren‘s familiar touch on the metal version, while Joel Dollie brought fresh perspective in mixing the orchestral version of the album.
“Ihsahn” is so much more than just another black metal album. It is a rich conceptual journey with intention in every note, craftsmanship in every verse, and careful symbolism buried within every piece of accompanying art or media. From the haunting music videos that play out with the abstractions of a nightmare, to the delicately minimalist album art featuring branching antlers in monochrome, there is a deliberation that makes “Ihsahn” a seemingly boundless work of art. In an age of limited attention spans and the ever-increasing demand for short-form content, Ihsahn is demanding listeners to slow down and absorb an intricate and many-layered opus with full intent.
Sonic Perspectives contributor Samantha Buckman spoke with Ihsahn about the creation of “Ihsahn,” what makes this self-titled album stand apart from the rest of this metal maverick’s carefully curated discography, and some hints of the symbolism and easter eggs that await listeners within its depths.
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