After cementing his status as a bona fide legend as frontman and lead composer for black metal pioneers Emperor, Norwegian singer and songwriter Ihsahn returns with his seventh solo album, Ámr. In what can only described as his most ambitious album to date, Ihsahn manages to deliver an effort that is certain to appeal not only to his long-time fans, but one that is sure to expose him to an entirely new audience who will be immediately captivated.
It’s the journey that makes Ámr special. Clocking in at just over 44 minutes, Ihshan manages to take the listener on a roller coaster ride…in complete and utter darkness. The listener is taken on an extreme expedition, one in which they simply do not know what to expect next. The magic of the album is how seamlessly each composition flows: From metal to jazz, atmospheric rock to doom, each song appears to be meticulously crafted to convey the deep, dark emotion that Ihsahn has been known for over two decades. Black Metal. Pop. Progressive Rock. Ambient. It’s all on display and often, miraculously, within the same song.
While certainly a departure from some of his earlier efforts, Ámr picks up where 2016’s Arktis leaves off. In what can only be described as a happy accident, Ámr is Ihsahn’s most accessible release to date. Synthesizers are used throughout the disk to create a sound reminiscent of a horror movie soundtrack. Ever present are Ihsahn’s multi-layered vocals, however, Ámr features more clean vocals than any of his prior solo efforts. Long-time drummer Tobias Ornes Anderson once again handles the percussion and Opeth’s Fredrick Akesson delivers a beautiful guitar solo on “Arcana Imperii”, the album’s impressive second track. Other standout tracks include “Samr” (which can only be described as an intense, melancholic ballad), “In Rites of Passage” (a progressive metal masterpiece), and my personal favorite, “Twin Black Angels”, which is about as close to a radio friendly track as you will ever find coming from Ihsahn.
Ámr is a unquestionably an album of the year candidate that is sure to withstand the test of time. There may be other kings and queens, but Ihsahn proves once again there is only one emperor.
“You came for consolation, you won’t find it here”
Label: Candlelight/Spinefarm (2018)
1. Lend Me The Eyes of Millennia
2. Arcana Imperii
4. One Less Enemy
5. Where You Are Lost And I Belong
6. In Rites of Passage
7. Marble Soul
8. Twin Black Angels
10. Alone (Poem by Edgar Allan Poe) (Bonus Track)