True living legends are few and far between, but Ihsahn has long since earned the right to be regarded as one of metal’s all-time greats. As frontman and chief songwriter with legendary Norwegian black metal pioneers Emperor, he swiftly cemented a formidable reputation as one of the underground’s most idiosyncratic creative forces.
Reincarnated as a solo artist for 2006’s The Adversary, Ihsahn has spent the last 12 years forging a second path through artistry’s darkest shadows ; one that is making more and deeper connections than any of his past endeavours. With a sound that still retains strong links to his black metal roots while embracing everything from skewed art rock and avant-garde jazz to experimental electronica and dark ambient, each successive album has presented a brand new manifestation of the Norwegian’s unique craft : from the muscular and haughty riff sculptures of Angl and After’s haunting, saxophone-driven mirage to the tech-metal explorations of Eremita and on to the wild, avant-metal splurge of Das Seelenbrechen, Ihsahn’s catalogue speaks of a restless creative spirit with ideas to burn.
In keeping with that spirit, 2018 brings the arrival of Ihsahn’s seventh solo album, Ámr, another immersive and frequently disorientating eruption of refined and absorbing progressive extreme metal.
As with all of his solo albums to date, Ámr possesses its own unique atmosphere; a palpable sense of tension and unease that infuses even the album’s most melodic moments with heightened drama and otherworldly menace. But despite its often claustrophobic feel, this is very much an album of beautifully crafted and shrewdly arranged songs. Although as dark and intense as anything he has conjured before, both the depth of sonic texture and the clarity of his overarching vision are more impressive than ever.