Ihsahn
After


3.5
great

Review

by J. Ponton EMERITUS
January 23rd, 2010 | 216 replies


Release Date: 2010 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Ihsahn progresses on the final entry in the trilogy of releases, but After isn't quite able to hit the mark.

Vegard Sverre Tveitan is a renowned figure in the underground metal scene. Having been a pivotal member of Emperor and aiding in family project Peccatum, one would expect the Norwegian composer to excel at anything he put his signature on. Well, for the most part, in comparison to his past projects, Ihsahn hasn’t exactly been able to hold the same level of quality throughout the project’s existence since 2005. The composer’s voice has noticeably aged since his days in Emperor, and the combination of genres that Vegard tried to combine throughout the course of angL and The Adversary wasn’t quite as smooth in practice as the performer had probably intended it to be.

After is the next offering from the Norwegian composer and is the last album in a trilogy of releases that started with 2006's The Adversary. From the onset, one will notice a difference in the tone and range of Vegard’s voice in comparison to his performance on 2008’s angL. It is as if he has bulked up his shriek in practice or production to where it is not as grating on the ears. Whereas Vegard’s output on past solo offerings could be compared to one scratching their nails on a chalkboard, the composer sounds more refined and complete-sounding in his howling, while still being able keep a black metal feel for the album. Clean vocals also appear throughout After once again, and they too have received a touch-up in quality.

Experiments with interludes and other genre influences caused listeners to compare Ihsahn’s prior albums to bands such as Opeth or even Mirrorthrone. If anything, After is a progression into even more experimental waters. Saxophones dot much of the album--I kid you not--and some ambiance and atmospheric touches fill in things as well. While the sax inclusion was a little off-putting at first, it actually turns to work in practice. As examples, a beautiful saxophone solo follows a build-up in the ten-minute “Undercurrent”, and the instrument’s inclusion on the driving riffs of second track “A Grave Inversed” adds to the urgency of the track in a very positive, distinct way; what could have destroyed this album by being a comical inclusion actually causes Ihsahn to gain some distinction in the black metal genre.

Tempo changes follow from track to track on After as well. Whether it’s the driving feel of the aforementioned “A Grave Inversed”, or the slowed-down musings that immediately follow on the title track, the Norwegian artist’s third solo offering is certainly a diverse listen throughout much of its playing time. Some tracks effortlessly flow from one to another--see the acoustic strings that conclude the title track and transition into the more energetic “Frozen Lakes On Mars”, or the ambiance that eases into the saxophone part that starts grand finale “On the shores”--while others just seem to hit a bump in the road--e.g., ”Austere” meanders for too long after the build-up in “Undercurrent”. However, “Heavens Black Sea” picks up where the "Austere" faulted and benefits from an excellent guitar solo that is supplemented with Vegard’s clean vocals midway through the song. “On The Shores” encompasses the general feel of After; extreme tempo changes, saxophone solos, and black metal riffs complete and summarize the album with a reflective and almost complete feel.

Is After a progression for Ihsahn? In many ways it is: the album contains a stronger production than past offerings; Vegard’s vocals have improved; and the saxophone does a good job of aiding in the third offering’s area of distinction. That being said, in some places After feels disjointed and incomplete. It seems Vegard is just now beginning to build on a new idea but can’t seem to finish it; as such, the album feels like a segue to something he may be trying to create in the future. It's like the Norwegian composer is edging closer to what he wants his ideal sound to be with After, but he’s just not there yet. Is the album up to par with Emperor’s classic black metal offerings or Peccatum’s Lost In Reverie? No, it's pretty obvious that it's not, but After is a strong release that does show improvement and distinction for the Norwegian composer. Given the progression on this album, Ihsahn's next release will probably do some really wonderful things.



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user ratings (308)
Chart.
4
excellent
other reviews of this album
Dembek (4.5)
In Summary, while this album can be slow at times, it really pushes the boundaries of black metal, "...


Comments:Add a Comment 
Ponton
Emeritus
January 23rd 2010


5793 Comments


Album stream:

http://www.terrorizer.com/radio

Nagrarok
January 23rd 2010


8245 Comments


Poooooos. How do you FIND all these new releases?

Ponton
Emeritus
January 23rd 2010


5793 Comments


Thank you. I just search release calendars and look for streams.

jingledeath
January 23rd 2010


7104 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

first two tracks are excellent but then it just gets kinda boring for me

Ponton
Emeritus
January 23rd 2010


5793 Comments


Yes, once the title track comes around, it slows down a lot. Undercurrent is pretty awesome though.

Shattered_Future
January 23rd 2010


1540 Comments


I listened to the first 2 tracks of this so far, and they're both good. Not great, but good.

ZeroTolerance
January 23rd 2010


435 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

I'm pretty sure I read somewhere that this is the last album Ihsahn's planning to release as a solo artist.

Ponton
Emeritus
January 23rd 2010


5793 Comments


I read that it is the final album in a trilogy he planned to do, but I haven't read that it is his final indefinitely.

ZeroTolerance
January 23rd 2010


435 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

True, we'll see I suppose. I hope it's not his last.

Ponton
Emeritus
January 23rd 2010


5793 Comments


Thank you for reminding me about that though; I needed to mention that in the review so I put it in.

ZeroTolerance
January 23rd 2010


435 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

By the way, really good review. Summed up my thoughts exactly.

Romulus
January 23rd 2010


8434 Comments


You are all over these new releases. You'd have my vote for contributor, especially with a few more months under your belt. Not that we can vote or anything, that'd be pretty sweet.

Ponton
Emeritus
January 23rd 2010


5793 Comments


Thank you, I appreciate it. I don't know--I get the feeling the mods are irritated with me or something.

Willie
Moderator
January 23rd 2010


15969 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

This is a good review, but I've thought that all his solo work has been lacking something... probably someone like Samoth to give the music a bit of a kick in the ass.

Digging: Necropoli - I

Romulus
January 23rd 2010


8434 Comments


I doubt it, my guess is you just need a bit more time. I think we joined around the same time if I remember right. By the time it gets to a year you're gonna have a shitload of reviews and a pretty good shot. Then again I know absolutely nothing about this, I'm just making assumptions.

Willie
Moderator
January 23rd 2010


15969 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

^^^ what you're saying is true (and I'm not just making assumptions).

Ponton
Emeritus
January 23rd 2010


5793 Comments


This is a good review, but I've thought that all his solo work has been lacking something... probably someone like Samoth to give the music a bit of a kick in the ass.


Thank you, sir. You may like this more than his past stuff. I wasn't too much of a fan of his past albums, but I thought this one was better.

Thank you, ryan. You may be right on that. I guess I need time.

what you're saying is true (and I'm not just making assumptions).


Really? Any idea when the next promotions are? In that case, I'll continue and try to improve as I go along.


Metalstyles
Staff Reviewer
January 23rd 2010


8357 Comments


nice review Jared, but there are some small mistakes

After is the next offering from the Norwegian composer and is the last album in a trilogy of releases that first started with 2006's The Adversary.
leave out "first"
It is as if he has bulked up his shriek in practice or production to where it is not as grating on the ears; whereas Vegard’s output on past solo offerings could be compared to one scratching their nails on a chalkboard, the composer sounds more refined and complete-sounding in his howling, while still being able keep a black metal feel for the album.
this is an awful long sentence. I'd just put a full stop to where you have a semicolon.
In many ways it is: the album contains a stronger production than past offerings; Vegard’s vocals have improved; and the saxophone
lose the second semicolon and replace it with a comma.
It's like the Norwegian composer is edging closer to what he wants be his ideal sound to be with After, but he’s just not there yet.
is there and extra be? Or am I just missing something?

Anyway, this is all minor stuff, and of course I'll pos, but imo this isn't your best work. I think that the overly long, drawn-out sentences disturb me a bit. The use of semicolons is correct, but many sentences just run for too long.

Ponton
Emeritus
January 23rd 2010


5793 Comments


Props for the constructive input, Styles.

lose the second semicolon and replace it with a comma.


There is more than one semicolon there because it is a list with individual clauses. I think it's correct the way it is.

The other mistakes need to be corrected, though. Thanks again, man.


Metalstyles
Staff Reviewer
January 23rd 2010


8357 Comments


in that case, lose the "and" because as it is now, the saxophone part reads like it is a section of the preceding clause (if that makes sense to you)



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