Ive tuned in for a handful of Norwegian musician Ihsahn's albums over the years. His records have always managed to allude a vision or completeness within me, despite really enjoying the music at hand. That's why Ive not written about Ihsahn before, other than his work composing most the songs for the legendary Emperor. I believe this is testament to his genius, the ability to write with depth, cultivating the powers of subtlety that's channeled into a slick stream of digestible music, evading understanding as its contained evolution and progressive direction gets the most from simple song structures. On closer inspection the composition of neatly aligned instruments and inspired musicianship reveals a unison creating the magic which swiftly moves forth into the next phase.
I am speaking in general about Ihsahn's music as a solo artist. This record may not be his best work, little of it lingers in the mind but when in motion its a sleek composition of lean guitars and string sections diced between bursts of rampant Metal that's scaled back to a sensible energy where blast beats and shredding gets the point across without excessive force. His voice is charming and he has a wonderful range that occasionally becomes the focal point but not so much when screaming in dissonance.
Amr has an unusual pacing about it, between its swings from frantic metallica riffage to soothing, calm passages of soft instrumentation its songs often suck the tempo away with minimal drums that come between those intense bursts of Metal. It never settles in one places and among a mixed bag of songs we find its two tones both hitting and missing. The opening track Lend Me The Eyes Of Millennia creates an air of impending explosiveness with its jaunting, paranoid synths coming to fruition in a furious explosion of anger. Samr champions the polar opposite with a soothing group of instruments led by a pulsing baseline, finding its climax with an epic, emotional guitar solo and rise of string and pianos to quite the finale.
In other songs it is equally missing the mark on both front's and makes it hard to feel the record come through as a whole. A string of good songs can really set the tone however Amr never quite finds its stride despite displaying something fantastic songwriting in places. Its production is fantastic though, I'm continually impressed by the aggressive and extreme riffs that have been engineered in a way to retain that ferocity yet keep a very crisp and audible sound without being overpowering of other instruments. It alone though can't save the record from being a mixed bag of treats.
Favorite Tracks: Lend Me The Eyes Of Millennia, Samr, Wake