Ihsahn
Eremita


3.5
great

Review

by Kyle Ward STAFF
June 21st, 2012 | 56 replies | 16,870 views


Release Date: 2012 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Soundscapes collide and instruments wail as Ihsahn shows what he is capable of, and what is lingering in the shadows

Perhaps more so than any other artist in his genre, ex-Emperor mastermind Ihsahn has crafted a solo career outside of his main act that is actually worth listening to. Granted, he has experienced his fair share of hiccups such as his sophomore effort angL which focused far too much on the negative aspects of Ihsahn’s musical talents and not enough on his seemingly unending vision, but for the most part his venture into his own musical personality has been a great success. His music is firmly entrenched in the realm of progressive black metal, and progressive it is. It is nice to see that Eremita capitalizes on the mass of musical information undoubtedly churning in Vegard Sverre Tveitan’s head, because when Ihsahn lets his creativity take control, great things happen. With a black metal genius such as him at the helm, it is no wonder that Emperor was so innovative for their time, and why his self-titled solo act continues to burn with a searing flame where others who took the cold, arduous journey of solo work fizzle out and die.

With performances by big-name musicians ranging from Jeff Loomis to Devin Townsend to Jörgen Munkeby of Shining (Norway’s Shining, that is) fame, one can imagine the veritable slew of sounds clashing together on Eremita. While that may be an ill omen for folks of lesser compositional ability, Ihsahn works wonders with making the efforts seem absolutely fluid and natural. The fact that Einar Solberg provides guest cleans on “Arrival” is something that doesn’t stand out as odd when listening to the track – and that is exactly how guest appearances should be. Granted, there are times when it is Ihahn – not the guests – who make things awkward, such as the rather ridiculous chorus of “The Paranoid” or the sometimes silly lyrics, but at other times Eremita shines like a star on the verge of a beautiful but deadly supernova. Heidi Tveitan – Ihsahn’s wife – breaks the mold with fantastic female cleans to close out the album on “Departure”, while Devin Townsend sounds out on “Introspection” – a song featuring a placid and haunting bridge alongside Townsend’s vocals that came entirely out of nowhere. There are no two songs that sound quite alike on Eremita, and that is what makes the album so wonderful to listen to.

While the array of performances from artists of various genres gives the album its distinct and exotic flavor, Ihsahn himself seems to bit showing a bit of age. While his performance of the core instrumentation is spot-on, his vocals are quickly taking a nosedive, a fact that becomes quite apparent as soon as he opens his mouth. While Ihsahn has never really been the best black metal vocalist out there, his screams are becoming wearisome and hollow, taking away from the impact of the album’s very diverse and colorful atmosphere. Thankfully, the incorporation of influences from jazz, avant-garde, and progressive all help to mask the sheer rigidity and rather tiresome monotony of the black metal moments, which often lack the vibrancy of the album’s other offerings. Munkeby’s saxophone puts on a glorious display that simply works given the erratic nature of the album’s pacing and sound, while Tobias Ørnes Andersen’s drumming is a treat to listen to as he slams away a startling array of percussion styles with ease and fluidity – see “The Grave” for a dizzying display of both simultaneously.

The arrangements soar at times, with “The Eagle and the Snake” approaching epic levels of atmospheric building during the middle of its almost 9-minute running time, featuring everything from wild guitar solos to cooky saxophone playing to eerie clean vocals. The same goes for more or less the entire album, where absurdity and oddity rules supreme, but in a way that is quite appealing to a wide array of listeners. The album could be called Ihsahn’s most diverse to date, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it is the best of his solo career thus far. Black metal – the genre that made him who he is today and what still seems to be a strong driving force of his musical endeavors – seems to be giving Ihsahn a bit of trouble. The album isn’t as heavy as it ought to be partly because Ihsahn’s screams are so tame and because the riffing backing it isn’t fully committed to sticking to any one course of action. It may even be right to say that Eremita isn’t exploring its depths as much as it could. The album could be downright marvelous if it cuts out a bit of the eccentricities while still retaining its unpredictable nature, instead opting to develop its obvious multitude of influences with more care – but that is a task that is quite difficult to achieve, even for talents like Ihsahn.

Ihsahn, even with all of his experience, still has yet to really make a masterpiece outside of his work with Emperor. Eremita has the makings of something excellent, especially given the quality of the guest performances and the sheer creative vision that Tveitan holds within himself. However, the biggest barrier to Ihsahn’s music is Ihsahn himself. The man seems awash with ideas that sometimes don’t exactly pan out as planned, and while those moments are clearly overshadowed by what he gets right, they still remain. That doesn’t stop Eremita from being a truly great album, but it does keep you thinking after the album ended about what Ihsahn could do to improve the record. For the time being, though, Ihsahn remains a venerable figure within the metal scene, showing with each passing album that he has no intentions of slowing down or taking a break. There is so much that he wants to do with his music, and it seems that even after his work with Emperor, Peccatum, Zyklon-B, and his self-titled act, among others, he still has something new to reveal. That, really, is the sign of a truly great musician.



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user ratings (168)
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3.7
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CaptainDooRight (3.5)
Ihsahn’s 4th studio LP release proves why he is still considered one of modern day’s best Black/...


Comments:Add a Comment 
Crysis
Staff Reviewer
June 20th 2012



16372 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

A few days late, but wanted to get this in while I had a bit of inspiration (and a bit of a kick in the ass to get this done).

Liked this more than I was expecting.

Digging: Darkspace - Dark Space III I

AngelofDeath
Staff Reviewer
June 20th 2012



16137 Comments


Still haven't gotten around to checking the stream of this, but this has me a bit more keen on it.

Crysis
Staff Reviewer
June 20th 2012



16372 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Have you heard his other stuff? If you like that then you'll certainly enjoy this. Even if you you hadn't heard them, I still think you'd dig this.

AngelofDeath
Staff Reviewer
June 20th 2012



16137 Comments


I enjoy After and Adversary a bit, but I always feel like he's just short of hitting his mark with some of the ideas and concepts he employs.

Crysis
Staff Reviewer
June 20th 2012



16372 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Agreed, as I said in the review he has yet to make a truly outstanding album, but this is probably his best work yet.

conesmoke
June 21st 2012



5205 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Angl is an awesome album, it really gets no luv from the sputters.

Ihsahn is the man. Dev does well on introspection

Gmork89
June 21st 2012



5510 Comments


Great review dude


really wanna hear this


still love the avatar

CaptainDooRight
June 21st 2012



29071 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Excellent review bro, very good read.

Digging: Kangding Ray - Solens Arc

conesmoke
June 21st 2012



5205 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

and yes, wonderful review.

MyWife
June 21st 2012



367 Comments


guy is married lolll

Yazz_Flute
June 21st 2012



18778 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

This is solid, but it didn't grab my attention as much as After did.

Digging: Eskaton - 4 Visions

snewso
June 21st 2012



107 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

after was pretty awesome, i'll be listening to this alot in the near future.

DonniSharK
June 21st 2012



466 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Thought this album was supbar compared to the rest of his material. The clean singing in particular bordered on downright awful.

MoosechriS
June 21st 2012



5007 Comments


Cool review, gonna have to pick this up at some point. I really like after so i've been waitin for this one.

Kole
June 21st 2012



171 Comments


Not as good as his past albums, yet.. His stuff tended to grow on me.

Tyrael
June 21st 2012



20866 Comments


Aw Kyle

I expected a lot more Devin Townsend bashing in this review

Digging: Darkspace - Dark Space III I

Wizard
June 21st 2012



19375 Comments


I totally agree with his vocals Kyle, they only really fit his Emperor stuff. I want to hear this, I liked his last album quite a bit. Wonderfully written review.

Digging: Mistigo Varggoth Darkestra - The Key to the Gates of the Apocalypse

Irving
Staff Reviewer
June 21st 2012



7256 Comments


*noob alert* Kyle, would this...be a good place to start listening to progressive black metal? Or should I blood myself elsewhere first?

Digging: U2 - Songs of Innocence

Crysis
Staff Reviewer
June 21st 2012



16372 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

This actually is a very accessible album, which is surprising given the vast array of sounds present here. So yeah, give this a try or go with newer Enslaved if you want to hear some prog black metal.

I expected a lot more Devin Townsend bashing in this review


rofl, I was waiting for someone to say this. His part in the album is actually pretty small and it is all well-executed so I have little to complain about. Townsend still sucks, though ;)

The clean singing in particular bordered on downright awful.

I totally agree with his vocals Kyle, they only really fit his Emperor stuff.


I would say the vocals - both clean and harsh - are the worst part about the album. The guest spots are all pretty great, but Ihsahn's own vox need a lot of work.

Tyrael
June 21st 2012



20866 Comments


Good to see you're finally realising how amazing Enslaved actually are Kyle ;]

Surprised you didn't rec him Paracletus though haha



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