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The Adversary - Ihsahn
Judging from Emperor's final release, "Prometheus" and Ihsahns other side-project Peccatum, Ihsahn has come under a lot of fire from Emperor fans and perhaps unrightfully so.
He had never intended this to be an Emperor album, and should not be reviewed as such, but it does contain some similarities to his last album with Emperor, especially in the track "Invocation" which is a multi-faceted composition following a "heavy-even heavier-soft-heavy again" style.
The album places a strong emphasis on keyboards for atmosphere and is backed up by guitars which can be aggressive or sparse depending of the context of the song, which can change multiple times within the song itself.
Overall, the music here has taken more influence from bands such as Opeth and Dream Theater and really shows Ihsahn's melodic side as opposed to his probably better known black metal side. The black metal is still there, so for those who crave some head banging here and there, the record delivers, but this record definitely won't satisfy black metal purists, but for those who have an open mind and a taste for tightly composed progressive music; this record will repay many listens.
Also included here is a guest appearance from Ulver vocalist Garm on the song "Homecoming, but while it might be of interest to fans of Ulver, I can't say I'd be able to tell the difference between his vocals and Ihsahn's.
The final cut of this album “The Pain is Still Mine” is a progressive piece that runs through many stages, with Ihsahn’s singing sounding almost operatic above the strings sound of his keyboard and is definitely the most experimental on the album, which in itself is an achievement considering the songs coming before it.
To finish with the album is a very strong release from one of the leading figures in black metal. Today, metal is desperately in need of a man with a vision, and Ihsahn is here to provide us with a fresh statement and a fresh sound in an increasingly stagnant and commercialized genre.