Ihsahn – The Adversary

ihsahn_052206_adversaryHaving laid Peccatum to rest, Ihsahn has focused all his energy into creating a solo album that would encompass all the eras of his extreme metal history, into one vibrant, musically challenging and intense album. Where this will take the artist remains a mystery. Will looking back and writing from a nostalgic frame of mind find Ihsahn once again inspired to continue onward with this project? I for one am hopeful that he indeed carries on, for “The Adversary” is a very diverse album filled with colorful compositions and moments of ugly passion to offer a very inspired and memorable balance. First noteworthy point is how much Ihsahn’s vocals have improved on all fronts. From a crisp King Diamond influenced falsetto, to classically trained pitch singing, to his signature and venomous black metal scream, it’s all on display here and effortlessly accents whatever musical mood pours out of this album. Clean guitar lines straddle the fence between “Prometheus” era Emperor and this dark gothic take on classical and traditional metal that reveals some amazing guitar work (both in solos and bizarre melodies) and unique moments where this atmospheric, almost weeping moments of music divulge the sacrifice and passion the artist behind this material has put into his work. The layers on “The Adversary” seem infinite as guitar parts pile up into this discernable wall of impressive sound and virtuoso drum work (courtesy of Borknagar’s gifted Asgeir Mickelson), only for Ihsahn to also appreciate the power in simplicity as on the amazingly exciting track “Citizen” where a stripped down thrashy verse acts as the hook for the whole song and uncomplicated synth lines creep in to empower the overall atmosphere of this excellent track. Dynamics… This album is full of them, and even though Ihsahn’s music sounds like no other, the one fault of this album is that his use of dynamics tends to become somewhat predictable. If a song starts out aggressive, you can almost predict where the break off point will be where the intensity of the guitars is stripped away to fall into more traditional piano/string compositions and the aforementioned pitch singing before jumping back into the fray. Even though this is “The Adversary’s” main albatross, I still find this album to be very well written in spite of its flaws and have reached for this album time and again to discover something new and instantly likeable. If you thought that Emperor’s swansong, “Prometheus” was an amazing album, then “The Adversary” should blow away all of your expectations with its full/warm and engaging production, not to mention the endlessly interesting music found on display. This definitely ranks up there in the top 10 as best albums of 2006. -Marty

~ by martyworm on January 3, 2009.

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