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Ihsahn – The Adversary
When hearing about the fact that Ihsahn was recording a solo album, I have to admit I was quite excited and interested to see what he would come up. Ihsahn, The Adversary is a return to his extreme metal roots with a lot of experimenting still intact that he delved into with later period Emperor and Peccatum.
The Album starts off strong with the song “ Invocation”, has a sort of return to Emperor feel to it, like the material off of IX Equilibrium and Prometheus. The real interesting part is how towards the middle of the song it gets softer and has some great clean vocals; Ihsahn seems to be getting better and better with his singing voice. His singing voice is showcased a lot on this album, perhaps more so then any other previous recording effort. There is a lot of harmony and layered vocal parts throughout all the singing parts, which are very well done, and at times very King Diamondish. Speaking of King Diamond, this is most showcased with the second song “Called by The Fire”. Much of the song sounds like an ode to Diamond vocally, which is obvious with his high falsetto parts. “Called by The Fire” is very catchy, the chorus really grabs hold of you and calls for a sing along.
I would say that all the songs have their own uniqueness and individual quality, songs like the slower “Homecoming” with clean singing throughout the whole song as well as some interesting progressive guitar parts. The whole album has some really interesting progressions and guitar riffing, some unique sounding chords and scales being used throughout. The Adversary also features some great black metal parts as well, with straight blast beats and sixteen note riffing. Although overall this album isn’t quite as extreme or as aggressive as Emperor’s later material, it’s almost like an in between of Ihsahn’s Emperor days and Peccatum.
Production wise, it's not the greatest, Their is little rawness to the whole album, but overall well done. I think my only grip is with the extreme vocals, they sound too dry for my liking, the clean vocals on the other hand are superbly done though. The overall mix is good, as you can hear all the instruments well, besides maybe the bass.
This album is probably not for everyone, it took me a couple listens all the way through for it to grow on me. Although I would recommend that people should at least check it out as the stuff Ihsahn is doing is extremely unique and interesting. Overall, “The Adversary” is an extremely worthy outing by Ihsahn and I have a feeling that when the dust settles it will remain one of my favorite albums of the year.