The newest venture by ex-Emperor front man, Ihsahn has done an excellent job, yet again. angL was refreshing change when it came and After is no different, in the sense of refreshing changes. It is the final chapter in the trilogy planned by Ihsahn.
53 minutes are enough to get one’s head all revved up. The album consists of 8 amazingly progressive tracks. I had not experimented with this band much earlier and now it saddens me that this is the end. Now having discovered bands like Solefald and Arcturus has just opened a whole new area of metal that I hadn’t explored.
Getting back to the album, the first thing one would notice is the saxophone. Yes, a saxophone. And does it gel well with the entire atmosphere created or what? Amazing work done by Munkeby with this instrument. For those who aren’t aware, Ihsahn is basically a self-named solo project of Ihsahn’s. He does the vocals (clean + guttural = wow), the keys and the guitar.
The thing I like about bands in this genre is the limitlessness to the scope of how a riff should go, or what scale to follow, or whether to maintain a particular beat at particular places (although some here might argue that I might’ve shifted to Math Metal here, still). And this album made me happy. The vocals were bang on perfect, not once did I cringe on listening to clean vocals (this has happened very rarely, like with Opeth/Novembre/Katatonia), because many bands get it wrong with when to do a clean and when not. Time and place for everything, an Ihsahn seems to know it :D. Drums I liked a lot, beats were riff appropriate, not ranting off on a tangent like it does many times. But I like to credit Ihsahn for his composition more. It’s an amazingly well-crafted album.
My favourite from this album include the title track After, Undercurrent and Austere. The other tracks miss out on the top spot by half points. There’s a bit of jazz in the last track and the way its incorporated in noteworthy.
The acoustic guitars have been used to create a smooth calm backing while the riff suddenly transforms into the blackest of black as do the vocals. The drums in sync. with the entire change, all done in a suavely.
“Heaven’s Black Sea” is another track where the saxophone creates this sensation of impending doom-esque event.
The album ends with “On the Shores”, and the saxophone does justice to it. Makes you think, if you get my drift. The kind of track that is prerequisite on road trips or during work.
The lyrics make absolutely no sense to me, so I won’t comment. Like I said before or maybe not, this album sounds very similar. Had this been a gapless album, something conceptual it would’ve been epic.
I read a comment which made me laugh yet I couldn’t agree more, especially when I’m high on Ihsahn: “Black Metal is a Disgrace to Ihsahn”
An easy 7.5/10
The video below is Scarab by Ihsahn from their previous album angL. You’ve got to be kidding me if you don’t like it.