There are few mainstays in the world of extreme metal who have been as consistent in their quantity and quality of releases, yet as varied in style, as Norwegian vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Ishahn. Though Ihsahn may be best known for his role in founding Emperor and for the legacy he built as a cornerstone to the 90’s Norwegian black metal scene, he also boasts an extensive discography as a solo artist. Beginning in 2006 with debut album “The Adversary,” Ihsahn has expanded his prowess to the far reaches of extremity in concept and execution, culminating in a complementary set of EPs released in 2020. Passing from extreme progressive metal through the avant-garde while never abandoning his black metal roots, Ihsahn’s work as a solo artist has proven his limitless inventiveness and musical dexterity beyond a shadow of a doubt. A true Renaissance man in his instrumental skills, Ihsahn contributes vocals, guitars, bass, and keys to his solo albums, but has worked with a number of other notable artists over the past fifteen years both within and outside his solo project. This score includes his brother-in-law Einar Solberg of Leprous, his wife Ihriel, and Jørgen Munkeby (Shining) among many others.
In 2019, it was announced that rather than following the consistent pattern of releasing a full-length album every two years, Ihsahn would take 2020 as an opportunity to release two contrasting, yet complimentary EPs. With each EP meant to explore the more extreme ends of his music, both “Telemark” and “Pharos” provide even deeper insights into the driving forces of Ihsahn’s creative spirit, with the latter offering him perhaps the greatest opportunity in his catalogue to explore new sonic directions. Totalling ten songs across both EPs, each featuring two cover songs and three original works, Ihsahn has left fans a treasure trove of styles to experience over the course of the collection. With surprises including extensive use of clean vocals and swelling choruses throughout “Pharos,” the EP sees yet another collaboration with Einar Solberg (Leprous) for the cover of A-ha’s “Manhattan Skyline.” Ihsahn has previously cited the Norwegian pop band as one of his many inspirations, and “Pharos” sees the track awash in the light of an artist whose passion for his craft knows no bounds. The other three covers across the EPs are treated with just as much expressive care, transforming them while retaining much of their original spirit. The original tracks are complimentary to his cover choices, building effortlessly on one another for yet another dimension to an already diverse discography.
Ihsahn spoke with Sonic Perspectives contributor Samantha Buckman about the creative process that went into the making of the EPs, where he found inspiration for these latest works, and just some of the many meanings behind the imagery of “Pharos.” Listen to the full audio interview below, and remember that for more interviews and other daily content, make sure to follow Sonic Perspectives on Facebook, Flipboard and Twitter and subscribe to our YouTube channel to be notified about new content we publish on a daily basis.