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Ihsahn - Arktis CD (album) cover

ARKTIS

Ihsahn

 

Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

3.88 | 69 ratings

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UMUR
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars "Arktis." is the 6th full-length studio album by Norwegian progressive extreme metal artist Ihsahn. The album was released through Candlelight Records in March 2016. Itīs the successor to "Das Seelenbrechen" from 2013. Ihsahn is of course known for his time with groundbreaking Norwegian black metal act Emperor, but his solo career is by now also quite prolific. On "Arktis." Ihsahn handles vocals, bass, guitars, and keyboards, while the drums are played by session drummer Tobias Ørnes Andersen (Shining). Andersenīs bandmate from Shining, Jørgen Munkeby, also makes a guest appearance on saxophone on the track "Crooked Red Line". Matt Heafy (Trivium) and Einar Solberg (Leprous) make a couple of guest vocal appearances. This is still predominantly a solo effort by Ihsahn though, but thatīs how itīs been since day one of his solo career.

The material on "Arktis." can overall be described as progressive extreme metal, but itīs always hard to give an adequate description of Ihsahnīs music, because he is so eclectic. The music features loads of progressive rock influences, but also thrash, death, black, and traditional heavy metal influences, as well as some nods toward avant garde and electronic music. It may sound like it could be a messy style mishmash, but Ihsahn is a more skilled composer and performer than most, and he is able to combine his many influences into a well sounding whole.

The material on the 10 track, 48:07 minutes long album are diverse in style and if you think you know what youīre in for after listening to the two opening tracks "Disassembled" and "Mass Darkness", youīre in for a surprise. Ihsahn continues to twist and turn conventions throughout the album, but no track seems out of place or disrupts the flow of the album, and thatīs regardless of tracks like "Until I Too Dissolve", "Crooked Red Line", and "Celestial Violence", sticking out quite a bit. The latter is a brilliant and incredibly beautiful epic track, which closes the album, while the saxophone on "Crooked Red Line" makes that track stand out. "Until I Too Dissolve" stands out too as it features a a strong traditional heavy metal riff, which brings Van Halen to mind.

"Arktis." is very well produced. The sound production is clear, powerful, and detailed. Itīs a production which brings out the best in the layered and and intricate musical compositions. The musicianship is as always on an incredibly high level. Ihsahn is not only a strong vocalist who can sing both extreme metal vocals and clean vocals with conviction and passion, but also a skilled instrumentalist, who handles all instruments with seamless ease. The guest musicians also bring a lot to the album, to further enhance the listening experience.

Upon conclusion "Arktis." is another high quality release by Ihsahn, where he once more shows the world his musical genius. Fans of progressive extreme metal featuring strong melodic choruses, epic atmospheres, a restrained experimental approach (in other words not overtly avant garde in nature, although still occasionally experimental) and a generally adventurous and diverse approach to songwriting should find a lot to enjoy here. I always recommend fans of Opeth to listen to Ihsahn if they donīt already known him, but in truth Opeth is only a reference because they have a similar progressive songwriting approach and a similar extreme metal meets strong melodic sensibilities way of creating music, because Ihsahnīs music is generally quite an unique listen. A 4 - 4.5 star (85%) rating is deserved.

UMUR | 4/5 |

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