Ihsahn – After (2010)

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

Cheers!

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.

Opeth – Watershed [2008]

 

The most recent of the albums by Opeth, Watershed seems to be like an intermediate album. The objective behind this could also have been to get people out of the bubble of Damnations and Blackwater Park. Either way it is an album worth Opeth.

They have only grown since their last album “Ghost Reveries”. The music is distinctive of Opeth, progressive with hints of death metal. The album starts with Coil featuring a female vocalist, Natalie Lorichs (surprising touch, I thought). A smooth acoustic beginning to an album which has the potency its predecessors possessed.  55 minutes of bliss and malignant elation is what this album would promise you.

The tracks following this prelude have a classic Opeth feel to it, melodic and creative compositions featuring Akerfeldt’s cleans vocals which coalesce into guttural lyrics and heavy riffs and double basses. Even though I keep repeating about how the music is typical of Opeth, the tracks are as refreshing as any other on any album of theirs. (Even now Hessian Peel is playing my headsets and the keys have been used creatively) Tracks like Porcelain Heart and Burden bought a new yet familiar sensation to the album. The bass line to both songs were very impressive and the vocals as always impeccable. The album ends with Hex Omega, an apt end which shows exactly how versatile this band can be.

There’s no point in praising this album, for it offers almost everything that a true Opeth fan would have hoped for. Coming to the berating, negation about this album is that it isn’t the revolution the other albums I fore mentioned were. It hasn’t created the hype that damnations or Blackwater did, nor are any of its tracks as legendary as Benighted or Harvest, although I’d say that Heir Apparent has awesome switches between progressive elements and the death/thrash ones, not to forget the neat riffage. So basically the crux of the matter is that, the pro of the album – it being exactly what you’d expect out of Opeth, is actually its con too. This band is meant to lead and create new ways and it has, I wouldn’t go as far as to say failed, but certainly has disappointed fans. That’s why I hinted my theory of it being an intermediate or something like a trailer to what is coming up, for Mikael Akerfeldt has announced of a release of a yet unnamed album in the year 2011.

Let’s hope so. Till then enjoy the video! Porcelain Heart…

Rating – 7/10.