Norwegian musician Ihsahn is the genius behind one of my all time favorite bands, Emperor. Ive been meaning to follow his solo work more closely and so I lapped up this new release, which turned out to be just three original songs alongside two covers. Not bad considering it was dirt cheap even for digital music standards! It clings closer to a traditional Black Metal atmosphere with thrusts of aggression, blasting drums and snarling screams to forge its darkly mood. Although a return to roots and departure from his more progressive approach, the music finds itself intermingled among subtle saxophones, trumpets and synths that give the Nordic flair a little textural flavor.
Its a chemistry not to remarkable but competent. The opening track brings forth marching chug riffs aligned with the strikes of horns elevating the tensions on a metallic crusade. Nord pivots to a slower pace. Shimmering hazy guitars birth a scenic vision of a cold Ethereal move nature elevated to a beautiful peak when its clean backing vocals bring in the soothing harmony. The title track hinges on a rather folk vibe. Its tricky, swiftly meandering melody has the groove and jive of something native and cultural. The tune drifts into a darkness that gets chopped and churned as the music searches for a crescendo it doesn't quite reach.
Its covers split the mood. Rock And Roll Is Dead jives out its funk with a Jazz band, the screams and distortion guitars playing second fiddle to the dominant instruments. Its almost gaudy but somehow seems to work. Wrathchild does something a little similar in moments, taking the classic Iron Maiden song and throwing in some saxophone led spice into the mix. Its good but its metallic aspect doesn't give much the original can't. Its been a fun listen, a well executed set of songs with an interesting inclusion of instruments not traditional to metal but not something to rave about.
Favorite Track: Nord