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One horrible vocalist and average music - 61%

SnipeBob, December 30th, 2003

A strange disc this is. I bought this because I enjoyed Emperor – Prometheus and wanted to try one of Ihsahn’s side projects. Well, its weird, and that’s probably the best description for it, but its avant-garde so this is expected. Right away, the problem I have with this album is the vocals. Ihsahn sounds great; he uses his black metal shriek and his operatic vocals here. Ihriel, the second vocalist, is the problem. To be fair, there are several spots where she sounds fine, namely the start of the opening track and in A Game Divine? Her vibrato is god awful. Some people in the metal scene do opera vocals great (see Tarja of Nightwish), but others like Ihriel should stop before they start. When she holds notes, for example, it sounds very grating on the ears. It makes me want to say “Get the hook already!” when she does one of her wails. She doesn’t sound too bad singing the chorus to Murder, but then she screws it up by going into a ridiculous ‘singing’ section. Ihsahn was some weak moments here as well. The ‘chorus’ to No Title For a Cause has a really lame line where he squeaks out “One truth or many, if any.” It makes me cringe every time I hear it.

Besides the vocals, the music is somewhat decent. Keyboards are used a lot, and the intro to One Play, No Script is alright, as is the chorus to A Game Divine? The guitar solo in Murder is probably the highlight of the album. Maybe I am approaching this from the wrong point of view. Maybe I have to appreciate the weird shit in the first place to like this. It still feels like it’s trying to be weird for the sake of weirdness by throwing odd musical sections at the listener. Perhaps if you happen to enjoy weird music, you may be able to look past Ihriel’s vocals and enjoy this. What Ihsahn should have done for this side project of his is to team up with Tarja from Nightwish. At least her voice sounds pleasing to the ear.

Highs: The keyboards are ok

Lows: Ihriel needs to learn how to sing in a fashion that is pleasing to the ears.

Final Comment – Try to ignore Ihriel if you can, unless you are into random shrieking.