Ihsahn
angL


2.5
average

Review

by Tyler Munro EMERITUS
May 28th, 2008 | 74 replies


Release Date: 2008 | Tracklist

Review Summary: angL is way too safe to be interesting.

This is going to sound weird so bear with me for a minute. When Emperor ceased to be and Ihsahn announced he was going solo, the famed frontman was put in the very same situation as the not-so-metal Justin Timberlake. I know, I know, it’s like comparing apples and ora…cabbage, but my point is that at some point, he’d probably have to survive off more than his name alone. His solo debut, The Adversary, was to him what Justified was to Justin Timberlake; good, not great, but certainly brimming with potential. But that’s where comparisons end. Surely we can’t expect Ihsahn to get sexy on his follow-up. What we can expect, apparently, is more of the same.

From the moment I read that Ihsahn’s sophomore solo release was to be titled angL, I struggled to keep a straight face. Call me shallow, but I just couldn’t expect an album with such an atrocious title–akin to some sort of bizarre post-modern nightclub circa 1998–to be anything but loleriffic. I gave it a few listens, and it was certainly not as funny as I’d expected. But after I gave it a few more, I kind of wished it was. While The Adversary was a continuation of Emperor's curtain-closing Prometheus: The Discipline of Fire and Demise with an added infusion of King Diamond goodness, angL might as well be a compilation of Adversary b-sides. Where The Adversary was dynamic, angL is emotionless. angL feels as though it doesn’t exist because Ihsahn has anything interesting to say; it exists because the fans expect it to. And while it’s surely adequate, adequate is hardly something someone with a track record as respected as Ihsahn should aspire to.

Before I imply that angL is a disjointed, unlistenable mess, it should be known that fans of The Adversary will certainly enjoy what the album has to offer, at least on the surface. This is because, as noted, the songs on angL sound almost exactly like the songs off of The Adversary, but this time around it somehow feels different. If possible, it almost feels like Ihsahn has gone solo again, which is to imply that he broke off another chunk of his sound and ran with it. What he ran with was the swooping, symphonically shaded "progressive" black metal The Adversary thrived off of. What he forgot was that extra effort, that effort listeners could feel on his earlier work. angL is a flat, stagnated continuation of The Adversary, and evidently I can’t say this enough.

Perhaps the biggest issue with angL is that the album is centered entirely on Ihsahn’s vocals. This seems obvious; Ihsahn made his name front-and-centre stage behind the mic. Here’s the problem: Ihsahn’s vocals kind of suck. Once known for his borderline shriek, Ishahn’s harsh vocals have withered and decayed into an overly strained remnant of what they once were. Seemingly stuck in a perpetual state of "about to cough", Ihsahn’s half-scream-half-shout will make your throat hurt vicariously. His screams are still instantly recognizable, but this time around they’re recognized as a startling reminder of how far off course he’s drifted. Much like the music it accompanies, Ihsahn’s rasp feels forced. While his clean vocals have seemingly improved over time, they can’t come close to making up for the disappointment you’ll feel when he makes his entrance 20 seconds into "Misanthrope". No amount of post-production can salvage his performance and believe me, from the sounds of it, they certainly tried their best.

Picking apart each song on angL simply isn’t worth the effort. The album very rarely threatens to be interesting and other than the nearly flawless "Unhealer", a track that features Mikael Akerfedlt at the top of his vocal game, there are no real standouts. The songs do very little to distinguish themselves, in fact "Misanthrope" and "Scarab" might as well be the same song re-written. Simply put, angL is adequate, but at this point I expect more from Ihsahn.



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user ratings (199)
Chart.
3.6
great
other reviews of this album
TrojanWhore (4)
A wonderful sophomore effort from the black metal genius. Experience a hugely innovative and experim...


Comments:Add a Comment 
Tyler
Emeritus
May 28th 2008


7926 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Wrote this really fast, probably faster than I should have. I'm sure the quality reflects that, but judging by the quality of this album, I was certainly no less motivated than the man himself.

Anyways, review is written on an overall basis, since the other one covers everything in detail and, to be honest, this album wasnt worth the effort. Plus it's four in the morning. This Message Edited On 05.28.08

theyneedyou
May 28th 2008


229 Comments


Except this album is really good.

Tyler
Emeritus
May 28th 2008


7926 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

I'm glad you like it. I think it's painfully average.

rasputin
May 28th 2008


14550 Comments


Review is still good, it relies I think a bit too much on the reader having already listened to The Adversary, but like you said, the other review goes into more detail.

Tyler
Emeritus
May 28th 2008


7926 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Well I [lazily] make the assumption that anyone with any interest in this will have at least some elementary knowledge of what they're getting themselves into. I agree, though, I definitely compare it too much. But I only did it because it feels like such a second rate knockoff of The Adversary. I'll beef it up when I wake up, but I mostly refuse to mention song-specifics because then I'd have to listen to it again. This Message Edited On 05.28.08

AngelPhoenix
May 28th 2008


2764 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I haven't heard the Adversary, so if you say this is just a re-do then I'll have to take your word for it, in which case, I can see why one might be disappointed.
On it's own however, I found it quite enjoyable, though I must agree, the vocals kind of suck.

rasputin
May 28th 2008


14550 Comments


Yeah, good point. What I basically got from the review is that The Adversary was a continuation of Emperor but not as good, and AngL is a stagnant continuation of the Adversary.
I'll probably listen to The Adversary first before I even consider listening to this.

Tyler
Emeritus
May 28th 2008


7926 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

'll probably listen to The Adversary first before I even consider listening to this.

You really should. Listen to Prometheus, then Adversary, then this.

rasputin
May 28th 2008


14550 Comments


Listen to Prometheus, then Adversary, then this.

Cheers Coke

Willie
Moderator
May 28th 2008


16061 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Rasputin, Just keep in mind that each album is a step down in quality if you listen to them in that order (although, my opinion on this album is still based off one half-assed listen).

Altmer
May 28th 2008


5652 Comments


you need to fix some typos in the review cocaine and the third paragraph kind of repeats what the second says with the emotional thing.

it's a great review of course, but I've seen you do better though. just thought I would point this out. and not to think that you won't have picked up on the typo's and stuff already or that you won't go back to fix 'em.

TrojanWhore
May 28th 2008


752 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

As always, great review. I just don't agree with your opinion on the album. And I for one thought the vocals were fine.

Wizard
May 28th 2008


19556 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

It doesn’t exist because Ihsahn has anything interest to say;

Is there a problem with this sentence or is it just me?

Surely we can’t expect Ihsahn to get sexy on his follow-up.

Hahahaha

Excellent review Coke. I haven't heard this yet and now I have mixed feelings about the album.

Digging: Nero Di Marte - Derivae

Det_Nosnip
May 28th 2008


374 Comments


Yeah...I've had this album for like 2 weeks and still haven't listened to it all the way through because it's pretty forgettable.

Kudos to comparing Ihsahn to JT and actually making it work! :lol:

Thor
May 28th 2008


10201 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

123.

I do feel like this sounds a lot like The Adversary, but a little bit better actually. And whoever plays drums on this album rocks.

I'll beef it up when I wake up, but I mostly refuse to mention song-specifics because then I'd have to listen to it again.

That's dedicated journalism right there. That kinda strikes me as saying "I wrote this review but I don't know enough the songs in particular to actually write about them."

tbh I'm not really impressed with this review, save for the first paragraph which was amusing. This Message Edited On 05.28.08

Tyler
Emeritus
May 28th 2008


7926 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

That's dedicated journalism right there. That kinda strikes me as saying "I wrote this review but I don't know enough the songs in particular to actually write about them."

It has nothing to do with journalism. It has to do with this album being completely non-varied. The songs aren't worth looking at individually because they're pretty much all identical. Personally I'd prefer if you didn't question my effort and integrity. This is one of those albums that actually would have been better off if it was terrible. He played it safe and the album is completely useless as a result. That's why I didn't go into specifics. There is no reason to.
Is the summary really necessary? It's so assholish.

It was 4am, I'll fix it.
Is there a problem with this sentence or is it just me?

I still think it makes sense but I could clarify it. I'm basically saying it doesn't exist because Ihsahn has anything interesting to say but rather because fans expect a follow up. It's not so much an assumption as it is an observation though.

Tarantino's Tarantulas
May 28th 2008


819 Comments


[QUOTE=Cociane]akin to some sort of bizarre post-modern nightclub circa 1998[/QUOTE]Clause of the decade

Thor
May 28th 2008


10201 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Personally I'd prefer if you didn't question my effort and integrity.

I don't think I really need to question your effort...you already said yourself you didn't put much effort into the review.
Wrote this really fast, probably faster than I should have. I'm sure the quality reflects that, but judging by the quality of this album, I was certainly no less motivated than the man himself.
This Message Edited On 05.28.08This Message Edited On 05.28.08

AngelPhoenix
May 28th 2008


2764 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

ba-zing

SHOOTME
May 28th 2008


2393 Comments


Personally, I thought Trojan's review was better. However, this is still good.



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