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Maybe I shouldn’t write a review on Ihsahns first soloalbum. I have to admit it, I’m highly biased. In my opinion there is a reason why Emperor are called Emperor, and therefore in my world of music Ihsahn can do no wrong. Wether it is Emperor, Peccatum, Thou Shalt Suffer or a job on somebody elses album (e.g. Ulver, Arcturus, Darkthrone,Wongraven), I happen to love everything.
“The Adversary” takes us on a journey, or rather a roundtrip, through Ihsahns musical life and influences, covering genres like Black Metal, Heavy Metal, Rock ‘n’ Roll, Progressive Metal and classical music. Diversity is the keyword to this album, illustrating all of Ihsahns talents in songwriting, poetry, singing and musicianship.
All instruments, except the drums, which are played by Asgeir Mickelson from Borknagar, are handled by Ihsahn. So excellent guitarwork, bass, keyboards and programming had to be expected.
But it’s in the singing where his abilities show the most. He can simply pull off everything from his characteristic raspy, harsh Black Metal growls and high shrieks to the clean vocals and the King Diamond-style falsetto.
Productionwise this album doesn’t go too far, staying rather basic and a little bit raw with a good, pleasant mix.
“The Adversary” holds a song for every taste and mood, the connecting element between them being the orchestra and the piano arrangements, that are giving the album a classical, symphonic approach. But there are also those passages of structured chaos that finally lead into one of Ihsahns unmistakable harmonies.
“Invocation” starts where Emperor finished, “Called by the fire” is more rooted in classical heavy metal and rock, whereas songs like the ferocious “Citizen” or “Will you love me now” are influenced by Black Metal. In contrast to that, there is the sombre, almost quiet “Homecoming” (featuring Ihsahns long-term friend Garm from Ulver as vocalist) and the epic “The pain is still mine”, which at times recalls a musical or even an opera.
The highlight of the album though is “Astera Ton Proinon”. A slow, solemn, symphonic masterpiece about all the Fallen Angels like Lucifer or Prometheus. This song just blows me away. It makes me want to drop to my knees and weep out my lonely and desperate heart.
“The Adversary” is an album that is appealing in it’s masterly skill and diversity, staying interesting and captivating even after months. The charm of it being Ihsahn himself, his world of sound, imagination and feeling.
To say it in his own words: “The music is a continuation of my work within the metal genre. [...] Powerful, epic, extreme and straight from the heart.”